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Richard Nixon Administration: Foreign Relations of the United States Volume XXIV: Middle East Region, Arabian Peninsula & Jordan


The editors of this volume sought to present documentation that explains and illuminates the major foreign policy decisions of the President on the Middle East region, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan, and represents the counsel of his key foreign policy advisers. The volume focuses on U.S. regional policy in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. It also has chapters on U.S. bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the smaller Persian Gulf states, and on the Jordan crisis of September 1970. The documents used in the Middle East regional part of the volume include memoranda, records of discussions, cables, and papers that set forth policy issues and options and show decisions or actions taken. The Jordan crisis section of the volume uses similar documentation and also relies heavily on transcripts of crucial telephone conversations.

Middle East Region.

President Nixon relied upon his two principal foreign policy advisers, Secretary of State William Rogers and Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, for major foreign policy initiatives toward the region. Other high-level officials, such as Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, provided additional counsel. Because the editors' primary focus was on the policy process—recommendations, discussions, and then final decisions—the focus of the volume is largely on events in Washington; however, it also covers events and developments in the Middle East region and the Indian Ocean as they affected the policy process.

The themes of this section are framed by the Nixon administration's efforts to replace the political and military structure left by the former British Empire with a newer structure that met America's cold war needs. As the United States worked with the British to restructure the region militarily and politically, this required diplomatic contact with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the various sheikdoms that eventually made up the United Arab Emirates, as well as Qatar and Bahrain. Other themes emerged after Britain's political and military departure from the region, including the Nixon administration's efforts to articulate a grand strategy toward the Middle East region through arms sales and military modernization for its regional allies, enlarging the U.S. naval presence in the Indian Ocean through negotiations with the British over Diego Garcia, and preventing Ceyelonese and Soviet efforts to demilitarize the Indian Ocean. Additional themes include competition between Kissinger and Rogers for dominance in policymaking and the reluctance of Nixon and Kissinger to be involved in regional issues, unless the Shah of Iran or King Faisal of Saudi Arabia demanded their personal attention.

The Jordan Crisis.

This chapter documents the September 1970 crisis in Jordan. This crisis confronted the Nixon administration with the possibility that the monarchy of King Hussein, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, would not survive. Although conflict existed between King Hussein and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) during the months preceding and following September 1970, this chapter focuses on the key 4-week period that defined the most intense phase of the conflict. It opens with the hijacking of four commercial airliners by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. These hijackings led to intense fighting between the PLO and the Jordanian Arab Army, and the chapter emphasizes Nixon and Kissinger's close involvement in the day-to-day developments and the final resolution of the crisis.

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Sources: U.S. Department of State