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


  • The Situation in Jordan—0200 GMT, September 29, 1970

The tenuous cease-fire is still holding up in both Amman and in northern Jordan. Virtually no observers expect that this situation will continue for very long. There is little new to report on the six remaining hostages although we do have a fairly good report that they are safe. Our relief effort is continuing although some bottlenecks have been encountered in Amman and a temporary halt in the supply of foodstuffs may be necessary.

It is difficult to determine at this point what will be the effect of Nasser’s death2 on the Jordan crisis other than to say that it may bring a few days of relative quiet. It is worth noting, however, that Nasser played a generally moderating role, although he tried to straddle the fence between Hussein and the fedayeen.

The Cease-Fire

The cease-fire remains generally effective in Amman. There were some reports of limited clashes Monday3 morning but nothing serious. There are so far no indications, however, that either the army or the fedayeen are withdrawing yet from the city. There are reports that things are beginning to return to normal, although it will be some time before utilities and sanitation services are restored. Ambassador Brown reports that since it is obvious that the embassy area will not be cleared [Page 923] of fedayeen for a long time, he and several embassy officers will soon establish a “branch embassy” in a more secure area.4

Attempts to enforce the cease-fire in northern Jordan appear to be running into more difficulty. Intercepted fedayeen messages indicate an intention to break the cease-fire and considerable bitterness. There are no reports of actual cease-fire violations however, although it is quite possible that there have been some.

Commenting on the Cairo agreement, our embassy in Amman states that the efforts of the special committee headed by Tunisia’s Premier Bahi Ladgham and the observers sent to Amman may give the country a breathing spell, but that it is doubtful if they can keep the fedayeen and the army apart for any length of time.

The embassy thinks that while Ladgam may be acceptable to the government because of Tunisia’s moderate stand, the fedayeen may denounce the chairman and the committee if they think it is favoring the government. The fact that the Syrians and Iraqis have also not supported the agreement could also encourage the fedayeen to resist the committee’s decisions. Finally, the embassy seriously doubts that the fedayeen will ever leave Amman of their own free will or that the army can agree to continued fedayeen presence in Irbid since this amounts to a political defeat.5

The Hostages

The remaining six hostages are still in fedayeen hands, probably in Irbid, and negotiations for their release are continuing. A responsible Red Cross official reports that they are safe and there have been several reports that they may be released soon.

Relief Program

The following is the current status of our relief efforts:

  • —The Defense Department has announced in a press briefing that American relief aircraft have been using the Sinai–Aqaba route to Amman. Our embassy in Amman has stressed that, to placate the military in Jordan, King Hussein wants American relief planes to come in from Saudi Arabia.6 We have sought and received Saudi permission for these overflights and although we may only use Saudi air space minimally the relief flights will be publicly billed as coming from Saudi Arabia. [Page 924] State is also asking through the Italian embassy in Damascus for Syrian overflight rights.
  • —Some difficulty has arisen with respect to moving from Amman airport the general purpose mobile hospital and the food and medical supplies that were brought into Amman airport on Monday, the 28th. Because of these difficulties and uncertainty as to the extent of further needs, Amman Embassy has recommended a 24-hour pause in further relief flights from Turkey.
  • —Ambassador Brown thinks that the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital will be extremely useful and that it has been ordered from its base in Germany and is due in Amman at dawn on the 29th.
  • —A civilian aircraft has been chartered to fly from Beirut to Amman on the 29th with relief supplies (about 10 tons of food).
  • —Other major sources of relief supplies for Jordan have been the International Red Cross relief flights from Beirut (four per day) and shipments of food overland from Israel. A British medical unit is scheduled to arrive in Amman on September 29 and 30.

Military Aid

The Jordanians have sent us a long military aid shopping list. Defense estimates that to deliver all that the Jordanians have requested would cost at least $10 million and that supplementary legislation would therefore be necessary after the election. Ambassador Brown is urging prompt delivery of the most urgently required items in order to maintain Jordanian morale and as a follow-on to your personal message to King Hussein.7 A sum for Jordan is tentatively included in the plans for the supplemental budget request.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 615, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, Vol. V. Top Secret. Printed from an uninitialed copy.
  2. Gamal Abdel Nasser died of a heart attack on September 28.
  3. September 28.
  4. In telegram 5340 from Amman, September 28, 1615Z. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 JORDAN)
  5. Reported in telegram 5334 from Amman; see footnote 4, Document 330.
  6. In telegram 5348 from Amman, September 28, 1715Z. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 10 JORDAN)
  7. In telegram 5357 from Amman, September 28, 1810Z. (Ibid., DEF 12–5 JORDAN) For President Nixon’s message to King Hussein, see footnote 6, Document 313.