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

5486. Subject: Jordanian Intervention. Ref: State 203591.2

1. Cannot deliver reftel to King. He has already gone to the front. Have just spoken to Hassan on phone. He says some of forces are already in Syria. He will be back in touch with me soon.

2. Before reftel came I was with King together with the British Ambassador. Events have progressed considerably. Ambassador gave message to King from Kidron, representing still unofficial views of Israelis. Message states, in substance, (1) Tell us where your troops will be (2) Give us the best assurances possible that you will not open fire. Implication is that if two questions answered favorably Israelis will avoid fight with Jordanian forces.

3. We spent considerable time negotiating exactly what the answers would be. In midst of talk message came that Idi Amin would be [Page 494]arriving in Amman any minute. King immediately left for front with Bin Shaker, leaving Rifai and Hassan to deal with Amin.

4. Basically, what British Ambassador will reply to UK Embassy Tel Aviv for transmission to the Israelis is that Jordanian line will start from Jordanian border east of Wadi Ruggad northward towards Sheikh Miskin, with northern anchor not yet defined but probably definable by dawn. As to question of firing, that remains moot. After King left, leaving answer to this still up in air but implying that Jordanians would be in defensive position. Hassan and Rifai argued in long and confused fashion as to who would fire, at what, and under what circumstances. In order to come to read reftel, I left British Ambassador to sort out exactly what he would reply. The questions were put to the British and not to us. He will do his best to put best possible light on Jordanian reply.

5. What is the confusion? It is simple. Hassan wants to avoid bloodshed but have Jordanian presence on the front now that King has so decided. Rifai told me privately on doorstep that what is required is that there be Jordanian martyrs.

6. What does the King think? He seems to share both viewpoints. Tonight he is Bayard on the white horse.

7. Comment. What we do? Nothing. The British are the go-between on this one so far as I know. Maybe the US also in the act but I am not. It looks like reftel is OBE as the Jordanians are in Syria and will not retreat. What we are now trying to avoid is a Jordanian-Israeli confrontation that will add new dimensions to this bloody business.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret; Flash; Nodis. Received at 5:02 p.m.
  2. In telegram 203591 to Amman, October 13, 1726Z, the Department transmitted a message from the Secretary that reads: “You should immediately inform the King we have just received assurances from Israelis that, if he does not move Jordanian military forces into Syria, Israel will take no military action against Jordan.” (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 5487 from Amman, October 13, 2330Z, Brown reported that he had given the Secretary’s message to Crown Prince Hassan and subsequently had a long talk with him, during which Hassan attempted to define on the map exactly where the Jordanian forces would be in the morning. The Ambassador noted that both Hassan and the King’s uncle, Sherif Nasr, were frankly and openly opposed to the Syrian venture. (Ibid.)