136. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

5380. Subj: Message From King to Secretary. Ref: State 199500.2

1. Delivered Secretary’s message to King at 1100 local, after he had finally had seven hours of sleep.

2. He immediately drafted reply which is quoted below. This is a personal draft and unedited except for some spelling corrections. It is good representation of his stream-of-consciousness style. Zaid Rifai read letter and made no change in it other than to substitute words “as to the status quo ante” for words “on the present lines”. This comes towards end of message.

3. King asked it be sent immediately. He and Zaid then talked of the necessity of a prompt, simple call for a cease-fire. They said that if the U.S. wanted to talk about the status quo ante it would be better to say status quo ante bellum 1967.

4. Following is King’s message: “I do believe very firmly that all efforts should be made to bring to an end as rapidly as possible this madness that has caused and is causing with every hour more dear losses of life, and more misery and suffering. I know, sir, of the United States efforts and your good self towards this end.

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“I believe, on the one hand, that what has come to be is a direct result of Israel’s lack of contribution, since June 1967, towards the establishment of an honorable, just, and durable peace; Israel’s military arrogance, expansionist demands, condescending attitude and over-confidence. They sadly seemed throughout to lack the courage or ability to believe in a real peace, which can only exist and last when two sides feel that it came to exist on honorable bases, causing them to build on it and safeguard it, as opposed to living within a fortress and with a fortress mentality in isolation from all around them and the will to try out another course. The only course worthy of consideration is that of peace. Israel has stated her belief in insulating her security otherwise by depending on outposts and positions on the ground and the reaction was inevitable and, regardless of the outcome, unless Israel’s attitude basically changes in the future, inevitably reactions and responses will come again and again with more chaos, anarchy, suffering, loss of life, instability and misery.

“On the other hand, both Presidents Sadat and Assad have taken on their own, without any prior notification of plan or timing, the responsibility for this military action which in itself shows that a lesson was learned from the Israelis in terms of timing and the use of the element of surprise. They were under tremendous pressures, I have no doubt, to do something and I repeatedly warned of that but, on their shoulders, I feel, lies the heaviest of responsibilities now for the entire future of this area, as a result of their decision and chosen course. Forces are locked in mortal combat and neither side can afford to lose. Behind the scene, are many an interested party to turn this area into a real hell and reap the rewards. The Soviets have assured us of their support and indicated a favorable view to all and total Arab involvement as rapidly as possible, and there are many in the area who wish, either defensively, such as the Saudis and their desire to send their brigade to share in the ‘honor’ of fighting with those who have obviously that sense of honor—Syria. Iraq wishes us to send them our tank transporters to help them move via Jordan to Syria, which we refused in both cases since we need our own transporters and since there is a direct route into Syria from Iraq (incidentally there are 200 Iraqi tanks in Syria or on their way, with an initial two fighter squadrons and possibly four by now). There are eager elements that wish to thrive and will do so on ruin and disaster.

“And there are enormous pressures on us, for Palestine is more closely connected with our very existence than with any other Arab party involved. Until now we have taken such action, despite these pressures and Israeli aerial continued violations and provocations, as to maintain calm and self control. Militarily, this is sound at this stage and we have sufficient sound military arguments to maintain this [Page 405]stance due to the situation to our north and in Sinai, but for how long can we exercise this self-control if fighting continues together with provocations and pressures?3

“Lastly there are your interests and ours at stake. I am saddened by the fact that the Soviets are identified with the Arab effort, whereas the United States is identified with Israel. A cease-fire, sir, must come as soon as possible to save so much which is at stake. A cease-fire without conditions as to the status quo ante and then a serious effort to bring this conflict to a final end. Whether this could come soon or whether it would be accepted by the fighting parties and others, I would not know, but it would certainly improve the image of the United States enormously to advocate such a course and do all possible to acheive it.

“With all my best wishes and regards, respects to the President and appreciation for your genuine sentiments, courtesy, and kindness. Hussein”.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret; Flash; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 199500 to Amman, October 9, 0529Z, Kissinger sent Hussein some “further thoughts.” Kissinger commended Hussein for avoiding involvement in the fighting, assured the King that the United States was making every effort to end the conflict, and agreed that the Security Council meeting should “lay the groundwork for getting meaningful negotiations going on a fundamental settlement.” (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 1542 from USDAO/Tel Aviv, October 9, the Defense Attaché reported that following an IDF briefing, Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Zeira had delivered a “well-rehearsed tirade” stating that if Hussein caused any waves, “Israel would dedicate the IDF to the task of completely destroying Jordan, its air force, army and infrastructure.” (Ibid., Box 1173, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, 1973 Middle East War, File 4, October 9, 1973 [2 of 2]) In telegram 7882 from Tel Aviv, October 9, Keating expressed his concern and advised informing Hussein of the IDF threat. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) In telegram 5373 from Amman, October 9, Brown reported that he had mentioned Zeira’s threat to the King, who took it seriously. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973)