89. Paper by Harold H. Saunders and William B. Quandt of the National Security Council Staff1

PRESIDENT’S FRIDAY BRIEFING

For HAK

New Jordanian Foreign Policy: Since the restoration of Egyptian-Jordanian relations last week, King Hussein has been actively pressing new foreign policy initiatives. His objectives are, at a minimum, to restore relations also with Syria, to regain the Kuwaiti annual subsidy of $40 million and to strengthen his claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinians in any future peace settlement.2

King Hussein sees Jordan as internally secure and less threatened externally than has been true in recent years. Consequently he is willing to take measures that will further ease internal pressures and will enhance his standing in other Arab countries and among the Palestinians. His offer of amnesty to all political prisoners, including some [Page 269]prominent fedayeen leaders, was a first step in this direction. Now he says he intends to offer to open a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasir Arafat.3 He recognizes that the PLO has a political role to play in the area, but continues to be adamant in refusing to permit the fedayeen to return to Jordan.

Ambassador Brown reports some dissatisfaction with the King’s new policies in important sectors of Jordanian society, but he assumes the top military men have all been reassured. The King is gambling that he can maneuver successfully among the many cross-currents of inter-Arabpolitics, and thus far he has done remarkedly well in view of his isolated position only a few months ago.

Amman 5040 191345ZSep 734

Quandt/Saunders5
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1296, Harold H. Saunders Files, Jordan, 9/1/73–12/31/73. Secret; Nodis. Submitted for inclusion in the President’s September 21 briefing.
  2. In telegram 4922 from Amman, September 15, the Embassy reported that Hussein had come out the “winner” at the September 10–11 meeting of Sadat, Hussein, and Assad in Cairo. Jordanian–Egyptian relations were normalized, and Assad would try to normalize Jordanian–Syrian relations. On the military side, it was agreed that there would be talks, but no unified command and no stationing of Egyptian or Syrian troops in Jordan. The King had refused any deal on the fedayeen, which had been the most contentious issue. (Ibid., Box 618, Country Files, Middle East, Jordan, IX, January 73–October 73)
  3. On September 28, Brown reported that Hussein had read to him his letter to Assad and Sadat, which stressed Jordan’s responsibilities to the Palestinians, most of whom lived in Jordan, and its dedication to their cause. The letter emphasized, however, that Jordan could not accept fedayeen actions within its territory like those that had threatened Jordan’s political structure and stability in the past. The King said that the three nations had to work together on the next step, which was opening a dialogue with the PLO, and stated that the PLO should be expanded to include Palestinian voices outside of Jordan. (Telegram 5190, September 28; ibid.)
  4. In telegram 5040 from Amman, September 19, Brown reported that the King had been talking about the need to widen Jordan’s horizons by trying new initiatives in foreign policy. As Hussein saw it, Jordan was now in a solid political situation and could thus afford to make gestures that would further ease internal pressures and have a shock effect in neighboring countries, such as his abrupt announcement of amnesty for political prisoners and detainees and his hope of offering a dialogue to the PLO. The Ambassador noted that the King was incorrect in assuming that everyone was praising his amnesty policy and that the possibility of a Government of Jordan–PLO dialogue, when it came out, would increase that uneasiness. (Ibid.)
  5. The original bears these typed signatures.