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68. Editorial Note

In a June 2, 1973, message to Jordanian King Hussein, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger stated that the U.S. Government had been trying to meet Jordan’s request for additional funds, but that developments in Southeast Asia had placed great pressures on the limited funds available and it appeared to be impossible to advance funds to Jordan as hoped. The United States would, however, plan to provide Jordan with $25 million in July immediately after the beginning of the new fiscal year with subsequent payments of $10 million in September and November. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973)

King Hussein responded to Kissinger’s message on June 4:

“On receiving a message you sent me a short while ago . . . , following one which I had sent you regarding the rapidly deteriorating situation in this area and the large question mark it raises to the real Soviet objectives in the Middle East [see Document 61], I took comfort from your reference to the urgent study you had underway and in particular the emphasis you placed on the current situation of your friends in the area. I can assure you now that the situation grows steadily worse and that the eruption on a military basis appears to be most imminent. In this situation your friends in Jordan seem to face a dismal prospect. Financially, I have asked the Prime Minister, Mr. Zayd al-Rifa’i, to send you his comments on your latest message. As to your reference to your continued hope that some of our neighbors may help us in the months ahead, I can now categorically inform you that the price we are requested to pay for their generosity is to hand over, soonest and in advance of any such help, the command of our armed forces to the Egyptian commander of the two neighbors of Israel, Egypt and Syria. It would be ironic if Washington wishes us to do so. Furthermore, on the military level we are more than disturbed and disheartened to note the tremendous Syrian and Iraqi build-up of the most modern Soviet weaponry on the one hand, the United States’ countering moves to supply the Saudis, Kuwaitis, and others with equally modern weapons, all of which inevitably will lead on the other hand to the U.S. supplying Israel with more weapons.

“Where does all this leave Jordan in its critical position facing Syria and Iraq, or Israel, if it is Washington’s desire that Egypt control its forces, a Jordan which is committed to combatting extremist elements all over the Arabian Peninsula and which in terms of its human resources has had up to now the most efficient, loyal, and professional armed forces? I do not know. We are living on hope in the fulfillment of the promises of our friends.

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“As for deliveries, we have received to date fifty out of eighty-eight M–60’s. Syria alone already operates more than three hundred T–62 tanks. We are still operating Hawker Hunters, and only God knows when and how many F–5’s we may receive, while Phantoms and Bloc-built aircraft are in abundance everywhere. Most of our armor is outgunned and outranged. Our artillery support is inadequate. Our anti-aircraft capability is almost nil. Our airbases are exposed. Our radar is inadequate. Our infantry has been promised the TOW anti-tank missiles, deliveries to commence in the unknown future. Our air transport capability is one C–130.

“I am sorry to take up your precious time in stating some of the grim facts we face. Yet, I am compelled to do so to illustrate the kind of impossible situation I am forced to take with a smile and the kind of demands I have to make on my people and armed forces in terms of their morale, hope, and faith in our friends. The string is stretched to almost the breaking point. This is all I can state.

“With my best regards, respects to the President, and the best personal good wishes to him and to your good self. Husayn I” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 168, Geopolitical File, Jordan, Chronological File, 4 June 73–5 Nov. 73)

On June 4, Jordanian Prime Minister Rifai wrote Kissinger that his message regarding budgetary assistance to Jordan had come as “a big shock and complete surprise” since Jordan had been counting on receiving at least some U.S. assistance before July 1. As a result, the government would have to attempt to borrow funds from local commercial banks to cover June expenses. He pointed out that the total amount of projected U.S. aid from July to November would be only $45 million—$20 million less than President Nixon and Kissinger had agreed upon with King Hussein. Rifai warned that Jordan’s budget at the end of the year would suffer a deficit of $110 million if U.S. aid were reduced and that if the $16 million military debt Jordan owed to the United States were added, the total deficit would total almost half of Jordan’s 1974 budget—an unbearable situation. (Ibid.)