275. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Situation in Jordan

Military Situation

After repulsing two earlier Syrian tank attacks and reportedly inflicting heavy losses on a Syrian armored brigade, the Jordanians have been attacked by two Syrian armored brigades along a broad front in northern Jordan. According to information provided by the Israelis on the progress of the battle after more than five hours of fighting (11:00 a.m. EDT), both sides have suffered casualties. The Syrians reportedly have artillery and about 150 tanks in the area, some 70 of which are actually in Jordan. The Jordanians consider the situation serious due to the Syrian numerical advantage. Some Jordanian aircraft were used in the fighting but have ceased operations because of darkness. An Iraqi armored brigade has reportedly begun moving from Syria into Jordan, but appears to be avoiding involvement in the fighting.

Actions Taken

On three occasions today King Hussein has asked our Ambassador for U.S. assistance.2 In response to his request we have thus far:

  • —made a public statement of concern over the Syrian actions (Tab A).3
  • —Given the Soviet Chargé a strong démarche (Tab B).4
  • —Taken further steps to determine whether we can safely provide medical assistance to Amman.
  • —Called for an updating of contingency plans in light of the new situation.
  • —Called a WSAG meeting for 7:00 p.m. this evening to review the situation.5
  • —Authorized the increased alert of our Army Brigade in Europe.
  • —Directed Defense to prepare, on a contingency basis, a plan for a punitive retaliatory air strike against the Fedayeen should they harm U.S. hostages.
  • —Stepped-up efforts to enhance the acquisition of intelligence from the Israeli armed forces on the military situation in Jordan.
  • —Asked our Ambassador in Amman to reassure King Hussein without making any commitments.6

I will be sending you a more detailed assessment of the situation around 6:00 p.m. this evening.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 615, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. V. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. The time is handwritten at the top of the first page.
  2. As reported in telegram 4959 from Amman, September 20, 1030Z; telegram 4969 from Amman, September 20, 1534Z; and telegram 4970 from Amman, September 20, 1639Z. The King specifically asked for aerial reconnaissance in telegram 4969 and for general assistance in telegrams 4959 and 4970. (All are ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 JORDAN)
  3. The attached statement by Secretary Rogers condemned the Syrian intervention and warned of a widening conflict if Syrian forces did not withdraw immediately. It is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, October 12, 1970, p. 412.
  4. The note verbale handed to the Soviet Chargé is attached but not printed. See footnote 2, Document 276.
  5. See Document 281.
  6. Document 276.
  7. See Document 280.