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Tuesday, 30 April 1957

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - During the last 24 hours, Sir, there has been no very spectacular news about Jordan. Expressed simply, the position there is that, during the last ten days, the young King Hussein has made a desperate effort to maintain the integrity and independence of his country. The situation is subject to a number of divisions in the Middle East. In the first place, the integrity of Jordan has been assaulted as a result of the activities of Egypt and of Syria, which countries have motivated elements inside Jordan, connected with which there is a good deal of communism and which have threatened both the integrity and the continued existence of Jordan as such. There are many other factors in the situation. There has been the dynastic feud over the years between the Saudi royal family and the Hashemite dynasty in the Middle East, that being the dynasty to which belong the royal families of Iraq and Jordan. That, fortunately, appears to be on the wane, because definite support has been given to the solid elements in Jordan, and to King Hussein, by SaudiArabia and Iraq. That fact, I think, bodes well for the future.

There is no doubt that communism or Communist affiliations have entered into this situation to a very great degree. There has been a long-term contract between Jordan and Great Britain, which was broken during last year. That breach was accompanied by the cessation of the financial support that Great Britain had been giving to Jordan from the end of the war onwards. However, it is difficult to say how the present state of affairs in the Middle East will work out. At the moment King Hussein has, I think, definitely won the early rounds of the struggle. His task - his self-imposed task - is that of trying to maintain the independence of his country, and he has been supported in that great aim by the Governments of Great Britain and the United States. I do not think more than that can be said at present. The situation contains elements of very definite danger for the future, if things were to go wrong, because the number of countries that are antagonistic to each other, either individually or in groups, is quite considerable. Then there is the situation in respect of Israel, which, of course, has provided a problem so far as the Arab states are concerned. However, I think one can hope - or I should hope that one could hope - that Israel would exercise every possible restraint in this present situation; and there is every sign that it is Israel's national policy to do so. There is no specific information about the situation over the last 48 hours, other than that all people of goodwill hope and pray that the very young king on whose shoulders has fallen this tremendous burden of maintaining the independence of his country - a burden that he must bear almost alone - will meet with success in his great task.

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