61. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Messages from King Hussein

King Hussein has sent you two messages [Tab A]2 regarding the possible resumption of hostilities with Israel. The messages are summarized below and a reply to King Hussein is recommended.

On Syrian Military Intentions and Capabilities:

—Orders have been issued to all Syrian forces to concentrate on night training. A top secret military operations plan has been drawn up that would involve a night-time offensive by three divisions to clear away initial Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights. The following day an armored division would try to recapture the rest of the heights. Iraq may provide two divisions as strategic reserves.

—Large quantities of Soviet military equipment have arrived in Syria in recent months, including SAMs, tanks, aircraft and advanced radars. [Comment: CIA has been able to confirm most, but not all, of the equipment reported by Hussein to have reached Syria.]

On Egyptian Preparations:

—Iraqi and Libyan aircraft have been transferred to Egypt.

—The Egyptians and Syrians are pressuring Jordan to join the Unified Arab Command.

—The Egyptians may initiate some action against the Israelis soon, although the Syrians may strike first, followed by Egyptian action along the Suez Canal.

Observations on Iraq:

—He again alluded to his judgment of a Soviet role in Iraq. The King warns of possible Soviet preparations to bring about a change of government in Syria in order to bring Damascus into line with [Page 185]Baghdad. [An earlier fuller message on this subject is at Tab B3 for reference.]

—The incident between Iraq and Kuwait was a probe to test the reactions of Kuwait’s friends.

—Iraq is actively promoting subversion in the Gulf.

Jordan’s Position:

—Jordan has no intention of turning over its armed forces to the Unified Arab Command.

—In a condition of war, Jordan will maintain strict control and non-involvement by Jordanian troops unless Jordanian territory is violated.

—Jordan has not taken any action on the Arab-Israeli issue on the political level, pending your advice. Jordan feels the need to take some steps, but does not want to place obstacles in your path.

—The King asks for your maximum help regarding Jordan’s military and other requirements; he asks for your views on what political course Jordan should follow; and he urges that Soviet policies in the event of war in the Middle East be examined.

A message to King Hussein at this stage should probably avoid any detailed political suggestions. The following proposed draft thanks the King for calling to your attention certain military information, but does not go into any detail on diplomatic initiatives:

“Your Majesty:

“I greatly appreciate your calling to my personal attention information concerning the possible resumption of hostilities in the Middle East and your own views of the pressures leading toward a resumption. You may be assured that we are watching the situation very carefully. Your assurances of Jordan’s intentions to defend its own interests and to work for our common objectives of peace and stability are most gratifying.

“The crisis in Lebanon has been of concern to us as it has been to you. We have taken some steps to help the Lebanese deal with threats to their sovereignty and appreciate what you have done. Other actions are under consideration here should Lebanon need further assistance. I can tell you now that we are determined to preserve the independence of Lebanon.4

“On the broader front, you will be reassured to know that we are conducting a thorough and quick review of all aspects of the US posi[Page 186]tion across the area, taking into account the positions of our friends and of the USSR.

“I will be in touch with you separately on the question of diplomatic initiatives. Please be assured that we are working with great seriousness on these matters. This has taken longer than we anticipated.

“Sincerely, Henry A. Kissinger

Recommendation: That you approve sending the above message [less than 1 line not declassified] to King Hussein.5


Revise as indicated

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 757, Presidential Correspondence, 1969–1974, Jordan King Hussein Corres. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. A handwritten notation on the first page reads: “Done. Retype cable.” Brackets are in the original.
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. Attached, but not printed.
  4. Kissinger added this sentence by hand.
  5. There is no indication of approval or disapproval on the memorandum, but the revised message from Kissinger to Hussein was sent on May 26. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1295, Harold H. Saunders Files, Jordan, 1/1/73–8/31/73)