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September 1957

The Situation in Jordan

This document was made possible with support from Youmna and Tony Asseily


The situation in Jordan


The visit by Mr Henderson, the envoy of the American State Department, has had dangerous repercussions, chief among which is an increase in tension between Jordan, Egypt, and Syria.


According to a high-ranking official in Syria, the American envoy agreed with Syria's neighbours to make Jordan the main centre for the fight against communism and strengthen anti-communist elements in Syria. He said that the situation in Lebanon was not conducive to making it a centre for this fight due to the danger of internal instability and sedition on account of the opposition's strength in the country.


The Egyptian-Syrian axis has decided to put pressure on the Jordanian Government and foment trouble inside Jordan. It activated its contacts with Jordanian personalities who had sought refuge in Syria and Egypt and urged them to prepare plots against the Jordanian Government. It also started smuggling weapons into Jordan from Egypt, via the Sinai Desert and via Syria's common border with Jordan. Assistance and rewards to the elements that are fomenting trouble and instability in Jordan have started coming in to encourage them to do what is necessary.


Communist elements took over the responsibility of organising a campaign against the Eisenhower Doctrine in Jordan, which they say is a means of reoccupying Jordan and forcing it to sign a peace treaty with Israel.


Those in charge of fomenting trouble in Jordan have carried out destructive operations in Jordan, by throwing bombs at the American Information Bureau and bombing a number of bridges in various parts of the country.


A Jordanian person, who recently arrived from Jordan, said that the Government has put in place stern terror measures everywhere and that surveillance has been imposed over all citizens, employees, students, teachers, and members of the National Guard. He also said that rumours circulating all over Jordan say that a terrorist movement is planning to assassinate the country’s rulers.


He also said that King Hussein himself was afraid for his life and worried about his fate due to infiltration by the opposition among the Jordanian tribes whose members form the rank and file of the Jordanian Army; the tribes are the only popular force protecting the monarchy.


Contacts are underway between Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Syria and Jordan, with the Syrian Brotherhood leaders trying to convince their counterparts in Jordan not to fight elements in the country that are opposed to the Eisenhower Doctrine. Similar contracts are underway with Hizb al-Tahreer al-Islami. These moves are led by the Egyptian abu al-Makarem, an officer who sought refuge in Damascus and son-in-law of Mufti al-Haj Amin al-Husseini.


Al-Haj Amin al-Husseini will play a major role in Jordan through his followers who were trained in destructive, terrorist, and assassination operations. He will arrive in Damascus on 20 September 1957 and start contacting his followers spread across Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to plan terrorist acts against the Jordanian Government, King Hussein, and his entourage. Informers confirm that large sums of money have been placed at the disposal of Mufti al-Haj Amin al-Husseini.


Al-Haj Amin will start his activities by bringing together all his supporters in order for him to appear as Palestine's supreme leader. He believes that Western countries will soon impose a solution to the Palestinian problem to remove the obstacle preventing the resumption of friendly relations between the West and the Arabs.


Today, al-Husseini will pursue a new political plan instead of his old one; he was known for his enmity towards communism as long as he still hoped to achieve victory with help from the enemies of communism, the axis countries, and the religious movement in the Arab countries. Today, however, he is forced to ally himself with Egypt and Syria, and fall on the side of various leftist forces in order to win the battle against the Jordanian monarchy, his only rival in Palestine.


The opposition will shortly launch their activities in Jordan and that means that instability and terrorist incidents are expected to start taking place soon. People arriving from Jordan insist that a hidden crisis is brewing between King Hussein and his interim Prime Minister, Samit al-Rifai, due to the King's fear of al-Rifai's extreme position against Egypt and Syria and his drastic measures against Jordanian personalities and elements opposed to his policies. The King is afraid of becoming the target of negative reactions to these policies, and of the ongoing explosions and acts of violence. For this reason, he would like to reshuffle the cabinet and introduce moderate individuals to it like Mr Said al-Mufti, a former Prime Minister who had stood in opposition to his Foreign Minister Hazaa’ al-Majali, and rejected Jordan's accession to the Baghdad Pact. Mr Samir al-Rifai, however, is opposed to any such reshuffle.

An American visit to plan a fight against communism in Jordan has dangerous ramifications, including increased tension between Arab states.


Document Information


Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 11, File 65/11, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily