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


  • Aid for Jordan

Your message of June 2 to King Hussein informing him that we could not advance funds before July 1 led to two sharp replies, one from Prime Minister Zayd Rifai and one from the King [See Tab A].2 Basically, however, Jordan was in a position to get through June until our July help could be provided.

Related to the broader issue of aid for Jordan, Secretary Rogers has sent a memorandum [under memo at Tab B]3 to the President recommending that he send a message to King Hussein advising him of the limits of our economic support in the hope of encouraging greater budget discipline in Jordan.

This memo deals with (1) your replies to Prime Minister Rifai and to King Hussein and (2) whether the President should become involved at this point as Secretary Rogers recommends.

[Page 233]

Reply to Zayd Rifai

Rifai, with his manner of overdramatizing, found your message a surprise and shock. He admitted, however, that Jordan could get through the month of June by engaging in a bit of domestic borrowing. His more urgent—but unfounded—concern was that the US had reneged on commitments made to King Hussein last February.4 He claimed that the $45 million in Supporting Assistance that we plan to provide between July and November is $20 million less than promised, but this is not true.

The US aid offer remains exactly as you described it to Hussein in February. All your recent message did was to say that the next payment would come in July rather than June. As you recall, we agreed to give Jordan $55 million in CY 1973, which includes a $10 million payment made in the first half of CY 1973. Thus the $45 million we promised between July and November is the remainder of that $55 million commitment. In addition, you told Hussein that we would hold $10 million in reserve on a contingency basis, pending the results of Jordan’s efforts to get support from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.5 This $10 million could either be provided in December 1973 or early in 1974. In either case it would be applied to the 1973 budget deficit. If we provide it in 1973, however, Jordan will receive only $10 million more in the first half of 1974, and Congress seems unlikely to agree to a supplemental appropriation. Thus, we would prefer, if possible, to hold this $10 million until early 1974. There is an element of choice here, however, and if you feel the time has come to release the extra $10 million for payment in December 1973, you could so notify Rifai. State would also have to be told. The main reason for not doing so now is that it is still in our interest and Jordan’s to maximize aid from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Also, the tone of these particular messages is unusually shrill, and as a matter of principle it would seem better not to change our position in response—especially when he has misrepresented our commitments.

Recommendation: I propose that you send a brief, straight-forward reply to Prime Minister Rifai, as follows:

“Dear Prime Minister Rifai,

“I would like to reassure you that the commitment made to King Hussein concerning the amount of aid for Jordan has not changed. Unfortunately, we were not able to advance funds before July 1 as we had hoped to do, but the total figure for Jordan in 1973 will not be affected. The July installment is now being prepared. Ambassador Brown can [Page 234]clear up any misunderstandings that may remain on accounting procedures. As you know, our funds for aid are always subject to Congressional approval, but we continue to have the firm intention to maintain our program in Jordan.

“It is encouraging to hear of your efforts to bring Jordan’s budget deficits under control. Even those friends like ourselves who are helping Jordan significantly have been deeply concerned over Jordan’s increasing dependence on outside assistance and its consequent vulnerability. It is gratifying to see underway an effort to reverse that trend.

“Warm regards, Henry A. Kissinger.”

Approve [1 line not declassified]6

Revise to include extra $10 million in December 1973

Reply to King Hussein’s Message

King Hussein repeats his earlier expressed concern about the deterioration of the Middle East situation.7 Military conflict, he says, is imminent. Turning to financial problems, the King categorically says that Jordan cannot find more financial aid in the Arab world unless it agrees to turn over its armed forces to an Egyptian commander by joining the Unified Arab Command. He feels left out when he sees large quantities of military equipment going to countries on all sides of him, while his requests encounter “delays.” He paints a sorry picture of Jordan’s military forces. In conclusion, he states that the “string is stretched almost to the breaking point.” Although he does not say so in this message, he remains interested in knowing what diplomatic progress there has been on a peace settlement and what US strategy is.

This message came at a time when Hussein felt under pressure from Egypt and Syria to commit Jordan to military action against Israel if hostilities resumed. He also had just appointed Zayd Rifai Prime Minister, in part to try to get a firmer grip on Jordan’s financial problems. It coincided with reports about our military sales to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—both nations from which Jordan would like more financial help.

As you know, we have pushed the limits of our own present aid resources, and we have had a military team in Jordan to plan the next round of arms shipments. The Jordanians naturally find it difficult to understand why Jordan gets much less aid than Israel. On the other hand, the Jordanians have been guilty of considerable fiscal irresponsi[Page 235]bility. Our posture can be one of continuing support without wanting to see Jordan become any more heavily dependent on outside aid.

Recommendation: That you send the following reply to King Hussein:

“Your Majesty:

“I have very much appreciated having Your Majesty’s assessments of Jordan’s situation. I hope that the pressures for Jordan’s association with any resumption of military action have somewhat lessened. As you know, the United States has no interest in seeing Jordan place its troops under a foreign commander. The military team that recently visited Jordan is now preparing its recommendations for further US military supply shipments to Jordan, and we look forward to discussing our views with your officers as soon as the report is ready.

“The pace of diplomacy on a peace settlement has been slower than I thought it might be when we talked in February, and it seems likely to be at least a little while longer before we shall know what kind of negotiating process may be possible between Egypt and Israel. I recognize that it is of primary concern to Your Majesty to know in what context Jordan will be working. The main issue at this point seems to be whether Egypt is prepared to make a decision to engage in a negotiation. I shall inform you when there seems to be something of interest to report.

“I have written separately to Prime Minister Rifai on the question of aid. In short, our overall position for calendar year 1973 remains exactly as I described it to Your Majesty in February, and the July disbursement is now being prepared. As Your Majesty knows, we have made a significant contribution and will continue to do so this year. We have two concerns: first, that Jordan have what it needs within the limits of its friends’ ability to help; second, that the trend of Jordan’s increasing dependence on outside aid gradually be reversed. In this latter connection, it is encouraging to know that the Prime Minister is working vigorously to tighten the grip on mounting government budget deficits. Knowing our own problem of appropriations, I would not want Jordan to be dependent on sharply increasing external assistance.

“We continue to have Jordan’s interests very much at heart.

“Warm regards. Henry A. Kissinger.”

Approve [less than 1 line not declassified]8

As revised

[Page 236]

Secretary Rogers’ Recommendation of Presidential Letter

Secretary Rogers points out in his memorandum to the President [under the memo at Tab B] that Jordan’s spending is accelerating rapidly and that budget discipline appears to have broken down. This is true, although since the Secretary’s memo was written the King has appointed Zayd Rifai Prime Minister with instructions to get a grip on the budget deficits. [Action on this memo was held by agreement with State until our own FY 1974 Supporting Assistance picture clarified.]

Some of the spending is for marginal items and projects. Given the trend of rising Jordanian demands and declining US aid levels, we are headed for problems. Our choices, as outlined by Secretary Rogers, are to do nothing now in the hope that Jordan’s Arab neighbors will provide more help; to seek more funds from Congress; or to advise the Jordanians that there are limits on US aid. The Secretary recommends the last course and provides a draft message from the President to King Hussein.

If you judge that a message from the President is appropriate at this time, a memo from you to the President is attached. However, I would suggest that such a message not be sent at this time. I have included the point in your two messages because it is a serious concern. It just seems to me that the context is not right now for this kind of admonition. If the President were writing a more general letter, this subject could be included, but it seems a bit abrupt to send a letter on this subject alone.

Recommendation: That you not forward the memorandum at Tab B to the President and that, instead, State be informed as follows: The President does not wish to send such a message by itself at this time but would be prepared to reconsider if the approach could be made in a broader context.


Send memo at Tab B to President

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January–October 1973. Secret. Sent for action. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Attached, but not printed. See Document 68.
  3. Attached, but not printed.
  4. See Document 30.
  5. See Documents 39 and 44.
  6. Kissinger initialed his approval.
  7. See Document 61.
  8. Kissinger indicated his approval with a checkmark.
  9. Kissinger initialed his approval.