295. Letter From Foreign Secretary Lloyd to Secretary of State Dulles 1

Dear Foster: Since my return to London I have been discussing with Harold the future of Jordan, and I have also heard that there has been discussion about this between the Embassy and your people.

To my mind the main point is this. The West cannot be expected to carry Jordan indefinitely, and the time may come when it will suit us best that the burden should be taken over by her neighbors or by some international organisation. But this must take some time and unless something urgent is done Jordan may well disintegrate in the immediate future. I believe that if this were to happen it would be disastrous from the point of view of U.S./U.K. prestige. It will stultify all the efforts you and we have put forward if the moment our troops leave the Middle East Jordan collapses and the country is taken over by the U.A.R. If this occurs, we will be regarded as having suffered a major diplomatic and actual defeat. It will be a great blow to our prestige in the Middle East and no one there would rely on either of us again. It might even be unwelcome to the U.A.R. itself which would be presented with a burden too difficult for it to carry (I got very much this impression from my talk with Fawzi in New York). Finally there will be a serious risk of war breaking out, since the Israelis would clearly not stand by and see the whole of Jordan taken over by Nasser.

I doubt if there is any possibility of Jordan carrying on if the King and Samir throw in their hands. It is clear from the messages they have been sending you that they are not prepared to carry on unless they get some firm assurances. Though the regime may not be a [Page 524] perfect one in many ways, I see no possibility of replacing it by anything better in the immediate future, and I therefore think we ought to consider what we can do to help.

What seems to me necessary to keep Jordan going is:

immediate easements of specific difficulties, e.g. cessation of propaganda, facilitation of oil supplies, reopening air communications, etc.;
help in raising of new units;
a promise of assistance to the country’s finances for the time being.

As to (a), I have asked our Ambassador in Amman to put certain points to Hammarskjold when he arrives2 so that he can discuss them in the area.

As to (b), we are informing your people that we are prepared to offer one million dollars and to discuss how equipment shall be provided.

As to (c), we are very anxious to know your intentions. We assume that you have already to some extent budgeted for support for Jordan over a certain period, but we understand that you have not been prepared so far to let them know for more than a month in advance how much you are prepared to do. I quite see the reason for this in the present precarious situation, but I think that unless we can allow them to see a little further ahead than this they will not consider it worth while to carry on. I think it is really essential to give the King and Government some kind of assurance that their budget will be taken care of for at least a year from now. Your people probably know better than mine what the amount involved is, but I fear it is not likely to be less that $50 million. You know of course how difficult our own financial situation is, but if the above estimate turns out to be approximately correct I am prepared to recommend to my colleagues that we should produce $5 million towards this (in addition to the million dollars already promised for equipment of the extra brigade), if you can meet the rest.

My feeling is that we ought to make an early offer of this kind to the Jordanians, in order to keep Jordan afloat while a United Nations operation there is put into effect. We must hope that as part of this there will be set up some form of Middle East Development Organisation on to which we can eventually unload the responsibility for supporting Jordan; indeed I think the Jordanians themselves would prefer this to indefinite support by Western aid. But unless we can bridge the [Page 525] gap in this way the whole situation may collapse before Hammarskjold can build anything up, and perhaps even before our troops can get out. It looks as if we ought to be able to tell the Jordanians something about this at the very latest before they go to the meeting of the Political Committee of the Arab League on September 6, and clearly it will be much better for them to be informed about it during Hammarskjold’s forthcoming visit to Amman. I hope that you can take an early decision in this sense.

Yours ever,

Selwyn 3
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Secret. The text of this message was conveyed to the Department on August 25 under cover of a note from Hood to Herter, who was Acting Secretary while Dulles was on holiday. Hood noted that Lloyd’s message was in response to a request for London’s views on the recent telegrams from Amman to Washington which Berry and Rockwell had discussed with him on August 23; see Document 293.
  2. Secretary-General Hammarskjöld arrived in Amman on August 26 for 3 days of talks with Hussein and Rifai, in pursuance of the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on August 21. (Public Papers of the Secretaries-General of the United Nations. Vol. IV: Dag Hammarskjöld, 1958–1960, p. 200)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.