111. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan0

116. [3 lines of source text not declassified] Group now appears to have that degree control as result rally to it of all major commands in Syria. Hussein’s character would lead us believe he would not lightly be deterred from use of military force if required to support Syrians.

Nasser appears to have placed himself in serious dilemma by refusal compromise. As result Syrians now appear be determined on independence. Three choices available to Nasser: 1) let Syria go 2) seek compromise 3) endeavor regain Syria by military force. We unsure what course Nasser will choose. Whatever course he follows will have serious consequence for him. If he chooses use of force, chain reaction might ignite area in that Hussein might feel obliged move and Israel might seek exploit situation. We are of view that if Nasser is to use force he must do [Page 263]so rapidly. Therefore if there is to be serious situation it may come quickly.

We believe we cannot usefully endeavor to influence Nasser’s decision and wish to exert our efforts in direction limiting conflict, if any, to civil war.

For Amman: Ambassador should see King soonest with or without concerting with UK colleague1 and state generally following: USG understands his concern with developments in Syria and his desire support those elements friendly to Jordan. Must be pointed out however that if Egyptian forces employed in Syria and Jordanian forces move into Syria to oppose them King is likely to contribute to a catastrophe that will engulf area, have unforeseeable outcome for Jordan itself and have wider consequences than simple intra-Arab conflict of interests. USG as strong supporter of independence, integrity and economic viability of Jordan cannot refrain from using strongest terms to dissuade Hussein from intervening in Syria under any circumstances. Hussein knows of our desire continue strong political economic and political support and must understand consequences his action would entail.

FYI. We do not wish make any threat cut off aid. However, Israeli exploitation of Arab difficulties cannot be discounted. Amman should inform Tel Aviv and Department soonest whenever Jordanian troops known to have been ordered into Syria.

For Tel Aviv: If it becomes apparent that Egyptians intend move forces into Syria, and/or should Jordan move to support Syrian insurgents, Ambassador should see Ben-Gurion soonest with or without concerting with UK colleague and convey our strong belief that every effort must be made limit conflict. We count on Israel contribute to prevention of potential catastrophe by extreme circumspection in taking internal military precautions and by refraining from provocative public statements. It is in clear interest of Israel to cooperate with USG in preventing enlargement of conflict.

For Ankara: Ambassador authorized make any approach to Turkish Government he deems necessary or advisable in light our objective and Turkish posture. In any discussion with Turks Ambassador authorized make use of first part this message in broad terms.

For London: Embassy authorized inform FonOff in general terms of our concern, action we propose take in Amman and contingency instructions to Tel Aviv and Ankara. We tend doubt Iraq in position to or has capability of intervening in Syria at present.

[1 paragraph (1–1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

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Department not yet convinced that Nasser will see military action against Syrians as best of alternatives open to him in present circumstances. However, this telegram constitutes guide for action should developments lead to military moves by any Arab forces.

Bowles
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/9–2861. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Strong, cleared by Miner and Talbot in substance, and approved by Strong who signed for Bowles. Also sent to Ankara, Tel Aviv, and London and repeated to Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Jidda, Paris, Rome, Damascus, Jerusalem, and USUN.
  2. Ambassador J.P.E.C. Henniker-Major.