[Page 426]

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

5404. Subject: Jordan’s Future.

1. In long noon-time talk, which preceded discussion in Amman’s 5398 (Notal),2 King said he is in real trouble. No matter how the war goes he will be the goat and probably the pariah of the Arab world. If he is to keep out of the war, he must know and be able to convince his people that he has taken the right course. He needs solid reassurances from the U.S., not vague ones. He expects us to obtain a cease-fire and prompt progress towards (a) implementation of 242 and (b) return of Arab Jerusalem to the Arabs. He also needs to know that he will get the military equipment and financial assistance he will require if the Arab states cut him off.

3. [sic] I told him to look at the alternatives. The Israeli generals are in a bitter, nasty mood. Any military action by Jordan will not be merely a tank battle in the Valley wherein, if extremely lucky, Jordan will pick up a few square miles of West Bank territory. It will be the total destruction of Jordan’s undefended infrastructure: its port, refinery, power stations, irrigation projects.3 The Israelis will look on him as a Mussolini who stabbed them in back and the retribution will be unbearable.

4. Hassan entered in this to support me strongly, saying Jordan could not even dare contemplate military action against the West Bank. [Page 427]But he too said Jordan had to know where it was going and what the U.S. saw as the outcome.4

5. Comment: The King is getting in deeper and deeper. Get me a prompt message, urging him again to hold off. If he gets in even a little, we are on the downward patch. His army can do a lot of damage even if the Israelis leave little left of the country behind it.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret; Flash; Exdis. Repeated Immediate to Jerusalem, Jidda, London, Tel Aviv, and USUN.
  2. In telegram 5398 from Amman, October 10, Brown reported that the King had just told him that he was about to authorize dispatch of a Jordanian armored brigade to Syria, saying that this was the least he could do under the circumstances. The Ambassador commented that he had not repeated this “devastating” news elsewhere because he hoped that the United States might be able to deter, or at least defer the decision. (Ibid., Box 1174, Harold H. Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, 1973 Middle East War, File 5, October 10, 1973) The CIA White House Support Staff’s report on this cable to the Director of the White House Situation Room noted that Hussein was desperately looking for some way out of his present dilemma short of becoming directly involved in the fighting. The King apparently still hoped that the Israelis would not attack Jordan in reprisal, but he had ordered a general mobilization of the Jordanian army just in case. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 7938 from Tel Aviv, October 10, Keating reported that Allon had emphasized in a conversation earlier in the day that Israel would crush Jordan if Hussein was foolish enough to intervene in the war. Allon noted that Hussein had lost a good deal of his Kingdom the last time he had relieved the Syrians and that there would be little to reign over if he made the same mistake again. Keating reported that he had pointed out to Allon that it was in their mutual interests that Hussein not only not intervene, but that he survive the current hostilities. (Ibid., Box 610, Country Files, Middle East, Israel, Vol. 12, Mar.–Oct. 1973)
  4. An October 10 memorandum to Kissinger conveyed information from Crown Prince Hassan, who said he had suggested to Hussein that the Jordanians inform the Israelis of the deployment if it occurred, and that they provide the Israelis with exact coordinates, underscoring to the Israelis that Jordan had no intention of having the Jordanian unit come into contact with Israeli forces. (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 137, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan/Rifai, January 3, 1973)
  5. Telegram 200671 to Amman, October 10, expressed appreciation for what the Ambassador was doing to get Hussein to hold off sending Jordanian troops to Syria and instructed him to continue to make every effort to calm the King down while the U.S. Government looked urgently at what immediate steps it could take to relieve the pressures on him. (Ibid., Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973)