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

384. Department pass Cairo, Beirut, Tel Aviv.

1. Summary. Palace is still hopeful it can accomplish something dramatic with Syria and Cairo before King’s trip to Washington. What King would like to be able to do is to say he is speaking for Assad and Sadat as well as himself. He thinks this would add urgency to his statements that a ME solution must be found this year and that USG must take over leadership in getting it nailed down.

2. King hopes his exchange of views with Sadat and Assad will lead to restoration of diplomatic relations. He would like to follow this up with quick flight to Cairo just before—or perhaps on way—to Washington, thus seizing headlines and making dramatic entrance.

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3. It may be that King could pull this off. Both Assad and Sadat could see advantages in having the Arab friend of US carrying message that conditions are desperate and complete ME settlement is vital now. What is doubtful is that they will give King much more of a mandate than that. Subsequent to Washington meeting, they may well back away from anything King accomplishes. Two things seem sure in Middle East: No Arab nation will let any other speak for it; each is ready at any time to denounce the other.

4. Timing is also important. It is most doubtful anything will happen before Arab Defense Council which meets in Cairo starting Saturday.2 What Qaddafi and Sadat agreed to—if anything—is unknown. Also unknown is what Assad and Sadat have been saying to each other about Hussein’s initiatives.

5. All this gives impression of over-hasty patchwork. It is all being done in greatest secrecy here in Amman. Prime Minister knows only what he reads in An-Nahar. Foreign Minister has been pushed out of picture to his great unhappiness. Long-range implications have not been considered. What is being aimed at is two-fold: (1) political protection for Jordan should war of attrition break out and Jordan not join; and (2) a dramatic cover for King’s trip which will give it international coverage and éclat.

6. Comment: I have been taking line here with King, Rifai, and others in palace that there is some value in covering Jordan’s flanks diplomatically. Time is short, however, and Jordan should be sure it knows for whom it is speaking. What the common understandings are, and what public support its actions will be given before it gets itself so far out on a limb which others can saw off with a word.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret; Nodis.
  2. January 27.