168. Minutes of a Combined Senior Review Group and Washington Special Actions Group Meeting1


  • Jordan


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • U. Alexis Johnson
  • Talcott Seelye
  • Defense
  • David Packard
  • G. Warren Nutter
  • James H. Noyes
  • CIA
  • Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman
  • David H. Blee
  • JCS
  • Gen. William Westmoreland
  • Lt. Gen. John Vogt
  • NSC Staff
  • Col. Richard Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed to:

1. transfer responsibility for consideration of longer-term economic assistance to the Under Secretaries Committee;2

2. send a survey team to Amman3 to discuss with the King the organization of his military forces, and reexamine the two military assistance packages (the $40 million and $23 million) in the light of these discussions;

3. instruct Ambassador Brown4 to discuss with the King certain financial questions particularly with regard to payment for additional military assistance;

4. ask Brown for his estimate5 of King’s ability to preserve a peace settlement;

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5. ask Brown to estimate the longevity of the King in connection with the arms package and the impact of the package on the preservation of a moderate government.

Mr. Kissinger: I thought we might have a rundown on Jordan—where we go from here on. (to Gen. Cushman) Could you give us a report on the situation?

Gen. Cushman: The King and the Army appear to be ahead, at least for the short term. They have made a dent in the Fedayeen capability to take over the Government, but not necessarily in their capability for terrorist or guerrilla activities. The Arab Commission6 has had considerable success in getting the Fedayeen out of the cities.

Mr. Kissinger: Is that a result of the Commission’s talking or the weakness of the Fedayeen?

Gen. Cushman: Both.

Mr. Kissinger: If it is not a result of Fedayeen weakness, why would they move out?

Mr. Seelye: Partly the effect of the Arab meeting. Fatah is committed to the cease-fire because of the Nasser mediation.7

Gen. Cushman: They are still operating under the Nasser influence. Also, Arafat gained recognition by the Arab countries as the head of the Fedayeen movement. The more radical Fedayeen, of course, will not like this. However, in the short term, the King is in a better position than he was before the troubles. There is some question of the loyalty of the Palestinians, given the reports of high casualties, but we think they will probably cool down.

Mr. Johnson: We are getting good stories from Amman that the casualties were not as high as originally thought.

Mr. Kissinger: Do we have an estimate?

Mr. Seelye: About 4500 all together, with 500–1000 killed.

Mr. Kissinger: How many of these were guerrillas?

Mr. Seelye: We don’t know; some civilians got caught in between.

Mr. Kissinger: The artillery can’t be very good since they were reported to be firing directly into the refugee camps.

Gen. Cushman: But they were all dug in.

Mr. Kissinger: They were expecting it?

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Mr. Seelye: Yes. Many of them had evacuated in expectation of trouble.

Gen. Cushman: There is no complacency, but the King is in a better position than when he started.

Mr. Johnson: We agree.

Mr. Kissinger: Is there any estimate that the cease-fire might break down in the medium-term future?

Mr. Seelye: Yes, I think there is a good possibility that it will break down once the peace team leaves in two or three weeks. It is particularly likely if the Fedayeen are not withdrawn from all cities. They are still in two or three of the northern cities.

Mr. Kissinger: What do they do with them—put them in camps?

Mr. Seelye: Yes, the Jordanians plan to deploy them to the west in camps.

Mr. Johnson: They would be sandwiched between Jordanian units.

Mr. Kissinger: How will they react to this as an indefinite future?

Mr. Seelye: They won’t like it.

Gen. Cushman: It is hard to say whether the Fedayeen will turn their attention to Israel or will continue to fight the Jordanian Army. The more radical elements may continue to fight the Army.

Mr. Kissinger: Will they be permitted to turn to Israel?

Gen. Cushman: That is part of the agreement.

Mr. Packard: The key question is whether there are any viable solutions to the Palestinian question.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree absolutely—this is the key question. The President has issued a NSSM calling for a strategy paper.8

Mr. Saunders: The IG is meeting on this paper this afternoon.9

Mr. Seelye: The King is now talking in these terms.

Mr. Kissinger: The problem of the Palestinian identity, and how to use it, must be addressed.

Mr. Packard: A lot of work has been done on it, but it has not been brought into focus.

Mr. Johnson: We are doing that in this paper.

Mr. Kissinger: Is it our estimate that the King is in a position to make an agreement which he can enforce?

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Mr. Seelye: We have passed the buck to Ambassador Brown on that and have asked for his estimate.

Gen. Cushman: We believe that for the next month or so the King could defeat the Fedayeen if they resorted to force to stop the cease-fire.

Mr. Kissinger: What if they simply violate the cease-fire? Will the King be able to force his will on the Fedayeen if, by doing so, he will be protecting Israel?

Gen. Cushman: Yes, over the next month or two. Many Palestinians are fed up with the Fedayeen and will not support them if they break the cease-fire.

Mr. Kissinger: I doubt if even Joe Sisco can get an agreement in a month.

Mr. Seelye: I think the King might well continue on the path of negotiations if the “silent majority” of Palestinians continue to support him. We had a definite indication earlier that the majority of the Palestinians wanted a peace settlement. It depends on how many of the Palestinians still favor a settlement.

Gen. Cushman: If the cease-fire holds for a month or two, there is a question of the degree to which the Fedayeen could rebuild their strength through help from Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Kissinger: But aren’t they being moved away from Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Seelye: Supposedly.

Mr. Kissinger: I saw a cable on the trip that indicated the U.S. and the British were assessing the situation differently.

Mr. Seelye: The British have changed their original position. They are now talking in terms of the King’s survival, even about the possibility of providing military assistance, which they have never done before.

Mr. Johnson: (to Mr. Kissinger) I think that is the result of your visit.10

Mr. Kissinger: It was partly the conversations with Home, but was also the fact that he was greatly impressed by Hussein at Nasser’s funeral.

Gen. Cushman: Nasser, of course, was on the side of the King in a peace settlement. The absence of Nasser now creates another unknown factor.

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Mr. Kissinger: We have also the operational issues with regard to military assistance, relief, and longer-term economic assistance. What is the military assistance situation?

Mr. Packard: We have authorized 20 airlift sorties of ammunition from their priority list. We have two flights a day going into Dawson Field.11 We have two problems when we consider the next step: what the Jordanians really need, and how it will be paid for. We can work out the rest of equipment, but the financing is another question. We are asking for $30 million in the supplemental. We can sell for cash for 120 days and then overlook non-payment for awhile, but not indefinitely. Someone should talk to the King and find out what he can do in this regard.

Mr. Kissinger: We have two separate packages: the $40 million artillery package plus an additional $23 million for post-crisis assistance.

Mr. Packard: $3 million worth of the $40 million package has already been shipped. The $22.8 million is a new request.

Mr. Kissinger: Is this essentially the contingency package we put together during the crisis week?12

Mr. Saunders: It goes beyond that. The contingency package is closer to the 20 airlift sorties of ammunition.

Mr. Packard: The King wants more mobility. He wants tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Gen. Westmoreland: The $23 million package includes $8 million in ammunition, howitzers, trucks, 44 APC’s, 26 tanks, and half a million in small arms, and $1 million in small arms ammunition. We have no problems in supply. The more fundamental question is whether this package provides for the type of force the King needs in the present circumstances. In the $40 million package, he had asked for 100 automated AA weapons and 248 artillery pieces. This is far more artillery than he needs under present circumstances.

Mr. Packard: I think that we should discuss this with the King before we make final deliveries on the $40 million package in view of the change in circumstances.

Mr. Johnson: I agree.

Mr. Saunders: Only $3 million of the $40 million package has been shipped.

Mr. Kissinger: Who put together the $23 million package?

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Mr. Seelye: The Jordanians requested it in several batches through the Defense Attaché.

Gen. Westmoreland: There is a ship at sea now with 12 8-inch howitzers and 155 tubes on board. We had planned to send 155 SPC’s by water in November. Very little of the $40 million package is enroute.

Mr. Kissinger: Are you suggesting that we go ahead with the $23 million package and reexamine the $40 million package?

Gen. Westmoreland: No, we should look at both.

Mr. Kissinger: Would this be acceptable to the King?

Gen. Westmoreland: The King has asked for a survey team to look into his needs. He is having second thoughts about the $40 million package.

Mr. Seelye: He was worried about Israeli air raids when he asked for the $40 million package. Now he wants equipment to make him more effective against the Fedayeen and against Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Johnson: The King is taking a new look at the kind of force he needs. Sending the survey team would be a logical next step. We also have to talk to him on finances. The King could help out, given his strong reserves position. If he could supply $11 million by January 1, this would carry us until we can, hopefully, get a supplemental. This should be feasible for the King. We have the draft telegrams instructing Brown to offer the survey team and to talk to the King on financing.

Mr. Packard: We could continue the ammunition shipments which would give him some replenishment.

Mr. Kissinger: Is the survey team necessary? Couldn’t we analyze the problem here and put together a package just as well?

Gen. Westmoreland: I don’t think that would be psychologically sound or practical. The Jordanian Army has good officers. They would take exception to our telling them what they need without consultation.

Mr. Kissinger: While we are getting the answer from Ambassador Brown on the King’s ability to enforce peace, let’s also get his estimate on the longevity of the King in connection with the arms package. We don’t want to find ourselves arming the Fedayeen if they should take over the Jordanian Army. While we are quite receptive to the King’s request, our receptivity must be affected by an estimate of his longevity. I understand, of course, that his longevity will be affected by size and type of our assistance package.

Mr. Seelye: If the King goes, it does not necessarily mean the Palestinians will take over.

Mr. Kissinger: When I referred to the King I meant the moderate government structure.

On the relief operation, are we all agreed with the relief phase should end toward the end of October? Otherwise, relief seems to be in good shape.

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All agreed.

Mr. Kissinger: What about long-term economic assistance? (to Mr. Johnson) I would propose we shift some of these operational items to the Under Secretaries Committee.

Mr. Johnson: The King’s long-term economic needs depend heavily on the degree to which the Libyan and Kuwaiti subsidies13 are restored.

Mr. Seelye: The Libyans probably will not restore their $25 million subsidy, but we hope the Kuwaiti will restore their $40 million subsidy. The Saudi Arabian subsidy is still okay.

Mr. Kissinger: If the Kuwaiti are forthcoming, will there be a $25 million gap or have new gaps developed?

Mr. Seelye: The existing subsidies are based on a normal situation. The reconstruction period will bring new needs. We are thinking about the IBRD and using some PL–480 funds.

Mr. Kissinger: We need a coherent program.

Mr. Seelye: We are working on it.

Mr. Kissinger: This is not a crisis situation and I think we should shift responsibility to the Under Secretaries Committee. (to Mr. Saunders and Col. Kennedy) Let’s get a piece of paper which transfers long-term economic assistance to the Under Secretaries Committee. We will get the estimate from Brown about the impact of the operation on the ability of a moderate Jordanian government to preserve the peace; also an estimate of the impact of the arms package on a moderate government. We should also send the telegrams on the survey team and on the financial discussions with the King.

Mr. Johnson: We will get them out right away.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–114, Washington Special Actions Group, WASG Minutes (Originals) 1969 and 1970. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. NSC working group of Cabinet Under Secretaries that produced studies for and made recommendations to the National Security Council.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 191.
  4. In telegram 167542 to Amman, October 10. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 616, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. VI)
  5. Not found.
  6. The inter-Arab body that oversaw adherence to the provisions of the Cairo Agreement that ended the conflict between Jordan and the fedayeen at the end of September.
  7. A summit meeting of Arab leaders in Cairo, hosted by Nasser, negotiated the September 27 cease-fire that ended the Jordan crisis. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, Document 303, footnote 2, and Document 330.
  8. Document 164. For an analytical summary of the paper, see Document 170. For an analytical summary of the paper that deals entirely with the Palestinian question, see Document 176. For the Review Group meeting that considered the Palestinian question, see Document 177.
  9. No record of this meeting has been found.
  10. Nixon and Kissinger met with Prime Minister Edward Heath at Chequers in England on October 3. The record of their conversation is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972, Document 329.
  11. An airport in northern Jordan, 20 miles from King Hussein’s palace.
  12. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, Document 303.
  13. Libya, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia established a fund in 1967 after the Arab-Israeli war to assist in the economic recovery of the United Arab Republic and Jordan. Kuwait and Libya suspended their annual subsidies to that fund in protest of the Jordanian Army’s treatment of the fedayeen during the crisis in September.