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158. Memorandum to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Jordanian Effort to Coordinate with the Israelis the Movement into Syria of a Jordanian Armored Brigade

On 11 October 1973 Jordanian Prime Minister Zayd Rifa’i advised [less than 1 line not declassified] that King Husayn was in the process of sending a five-page message to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir explaining his reasons for moving one Jordanian armored brigade into the northern front. The King’s message will ask the Israelis to refrain from attacking this unit if at all possible.2 [2 lines not declassified]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 137, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan/Rifai, January 3, 1973. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. In his message to Meir, the King stated that Jordan was in an impossible position. He refused to commit his armed forces to a senseless war against Israel, but, on the other hand, if Jordan did not participate in some form, it would be castigated in the Arab world. Thus, “with a heavy heart,” he had found a third alternative, which was to send a relatively small force into Syria to an area adjacent to Jordan’s frontiers with Syria. This would not affect the outcome of the fighting there and would give Jordan the political cover it needed for remaining outside of the present conflict. Hussein emphasized that, most importantly, it would prevent Jordan and Israel from going to war against each other. (Ibid.) In an 8:10 p.m. telephone conversation with Dinitz on October 11, Kissinger told the Ambassador that Hussein, who was under enormous pressure, wanted to move a brigade into Syria “out of harms way.” He said the Jordanians did not care what the Israelis did, but wanted to make sure that Israeli forces did not attack them. Dinitz asked if this was an infantry brigade, to which Kissinger replied that it was an armored brigade. Dinitz asked if they would fight or just stand there, and the Secretary responded that they would just stand there. The Ambassador said he would have to pass this on to his government. (Ibid., Kissinger Telephone Conversations, Transcripts (Telcons), Chronological File, Box 22) Printed in Kissinger, Crisis, pp. 190–192.