The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that document the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The subseries presents a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of both Presidents. This volume documents U.S. policy toward the Middle East region including the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula from 1969 to 1972, as well as U.S. actions during the Jordan crisis of September 1970.

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Although part of a larger integrated series, this volume is meant to stand on its own. Readers who want a more complete context for U.S relations with the Middle East during this time period should consult other volumes in the 1969–1976 subseries of the Foreign Relations series. Volume XXIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1969–1972, covers events in Jordan both before and after September 1970, as well as the Arab-Israeli crisis. Oil and energy issues are addressed in volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974. U.S. bilateral relations with Iran are documented in volume E–4, Documents on Iran and Iraq, 1969–1972.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXIV

The editors of this volume sought to present documentation that explains and illuminates the major foreign policy decisions of the President on the Middle East region, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan, and represents the counsel of his key foreign policy advisers. The volume focuses on U.S. regional policy in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. It also has chapters on U.S. bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the smaller Persian Gulf states, and on the Jordan crisis of September 1970. The documents used in the Middle East regional part of the volume include memoranda, records of discussions, cables, and papers that set forth policy issues and options and show decisions or actions taken. The Jordan crisis section of the volume uses similar documentation and also relies heavily on transcripts of crucial telephone conversations.

Middle East Region. President Nixon relied upon his two principal foreign policy advisers, Secretary of State William Rogers and Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, for major foreign policy initiatives toward the region. Other high-level officials, such as Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, provided additional counsel. Because the editors’ primary focus was on the policy process—recommendations, discussions, and then final decisions—the focus of the volume is largely on events in Washington; however, it also covers events and developments in the Middle East region and the Indian Ocean as they affected the policy process.

The themes of this section are framed by the Nixon administration’s efforts to replace the political and military structure left by the former British Empire with a newer structure that met America’s cold war needs. As the United States worked with the British to restructure the region militarily and politically, this required diplomatic contact with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the various sheikdoms that eventually made up the United Arab Emirates, as well as Qatar and Bahrain. Other themes emerged after Britain’s political and military departure from the region, including the Nixon administration’s efforts to articulate a [Page V] grand strategy toward the Middle East region through arms sales and military modernization for its regional allies, enlarging the U.S. naval presence in the Indian Ocean through negotiations with the British over Diego Garcia, and preventing Ceyelonese and Soviet efforts to demilitarize the Indian Ocean. Additional themes include competition between Kissinger and Rogers for dominance in policymaking and the reluctance of Nixon and Kissinger to be involved in regional issues, unless the Shah of Iran or King Faisal of Saudi Arabia demanded their personal attention.

The Jordan Crisis. This chapter documents the September 1970 crisis in Jordan. This crisis confronted the Nixon administration with the possibility that the monarchy of King Hussein, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, would not survive. Although conflict existed between King Hussein and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during the months preceding and following September 1970, this chapter focuses on the key 4-week period that defined the most intense phase of the conflict. It opens with the hijacking of four commercial airliners by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. These hijackings led to intense fighting between the PLO and the Jordanian Arab Army, and the chapter emphasizes Nixon and Kissinger’s close involvement in the day-to-day developments and the final resolution of the crisis.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The original document is reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents in the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after [Page VI] declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed by headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original document are so identified by footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and review volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to [Page VII] ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2005 and was completed in 2007, resulted in the decision to withhold no documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 6 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 27 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide an accurate and comprehensive— given limitations of space—account of the Nixon administration’s policy toward the Middle East region from 1969 to 1972 and the 1970 Jordan crisis.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The [Page VIII] editors also wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. Special thanks are due to Scott Koch, formerly of the History Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who was extremely helpful in arranging full access to the files of that agency. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s telephone conversations. Copies of the Kissinger telephone conversations are now available at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger. The editors would like also to thank Sandra Meagher at the Department of Defense.

Linda Qaimmaqami prepared the chapters on the Middle East region. Adam Howard prepared the chapter on Jordan, 1970. They collected and selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Dean Weatherhead coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Keri Lewis and Aaron W. Marrs did the copy and technical editing. Breffni Whelan prepared the index.

Bureau of Public Affairs

December 2008

Marc J. Susser
The Historian