Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 19, 1984, Page 6

Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S. Middle East Relations

February 29:

The Pentagon informed Congress that it planned to sell Saudi Arabia 1,200 Stinger antiaircraft missiles costing an estimated $141 million. If the sale is not blocked by Congress—whose power to do so is in doubt since the Supreme Court ruled last year that it does not have the authority to veto arms sales—Saudi Arabia will become the first Arab nation to receive the U.S. weapons.

March 1:

The Pentagon notified Congress of its plans to sell Jordan 1,613 Stinger missiles at a total cost of approximately $133 million. The proposed sale which includes spare parts and support equipment is separate from the Administration's plan, not yet submitted to Congress, to spend an additional sum of about $200 million equipping two Jordanian brigades with transport planes, trucks, ammunition and other supplies for possible use in regional emergencies.

March 5:

In the wake of reports that Iraq had used chemical weapons in its war against Iran, State Department spokesman John Hughes said: "The United States has concluded that the available evidence indicates that Iraq has used lethal chemical weapons" and that the U.S. "strongly condemns" this. He went on to criticize Iran, by saying the Administration believed its "intransigent refusal to deviate from its avowed objective of eliminating the legitimate government of neighboring Iraq to be inconsistent with the accepted norms of behavior among nations."

March 5:

State Department spokesman John Hughes said the U.S. "regrets" the Lebanese cabinet's decision made earlier in the day to formally abrogate the May 17 agreement with Israel, which provided for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon. "That proposed agreement," Mr. Hughes said, "still represents the only agreed formula for ensuring both Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and Israel's legitimate security interests in a manner consistent with Lebanese sovereignty." He added that the U.S. "does not intend to abandon the people or the legitimate government of Lebanon," and that decisions regarding additional military and economic aid would be made "as the situation unfolds."

March 5:

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's office said in a statement that Lebanon's abrogation of the May 17 agreement amounted to "a death sentence for Lebanese independence and sovereignty." The statement added that because "Lebanon is incapable of fulfilling her international obligations and of preventing south Lebanon once again from being turned into a terrorist base, Israel itself will determine the best ways to ensure its security."

March 12:

State Department spokesman John Hughes denied charges by Ethiopia that the U.S. was "airlifting" new weapons to Sudan to help it thwart rebel attacks in the southern part of the country. Mr. Hughes said the U.S. and Sudan "are reviewing the ongoing military assistance program," but that "no decision has been taken yet as to the type of military equipment nor the mode of delivery."

March 15:

Responding to King Hussein's publicly announced refusal to negotiate for Mideast peace on the basis of President Reagan's Sept. 1, 1982, initiative which, the King said, had been "destroyed," along with U.S. "credibility" State Department spokesman John Hughes said: "There is not a very attractive alternative to negotiation. The only alternative to negotiations in the Middle East is sliding back down that slippery road toward war." Mr. Hughes added: "I don't want to analyze Jordanian motivations, but (if) you're asking me is it a fact that a great deal of Soviet weaponry has been moved into Syria, and must Jordan be concerned by that, I presume the answer would be yes." King Hussein made his remarks in an interview with The New York Times on March 14. (See excerpts below.)


Reagan and Hussein differ over Sept. 1, 1982 "Reagan Plan"

Following are excerpts from a speech by President Reagan on March 13 to the United Jewish Appeal:

I am convinced that the initiative I presented on Sept. 1, 1982, remains the best option for all the parties ... It is time for the Arab world to negotiate directly with Israel and to recognize Israel's right to exist...

If there is to be any hope for those negotiations, however, we must preserve our credibility as a fair minded broker seeking a comprehensive solution. Only the United States can advance this process. We must not undermine our role...

We must help to protect moderate Arabs who seek peace from the radical pressures that have done such harm in Lebanon ... One such friend, whom we continue to urge to negotiate with Israel, is King Hussein of Jordan.

Today, Jordan is crucial to the peace process. For that very reason, Jordan, like Israel, is confronted by Syria and faces military threats and terrorist attacks. Since the security of Jordan is crucial to the security of the entire region, it is in America's strategic interest and I believe it is in Israel's strategic interest for us to help meet Jordan's legitimate needs for defense against the growing power of Syria and Iran... 

Following are excerpts from a New York Times interview with Jordan's King Hussein on March 14:

The President's initiative of Sept. 1 was destroyed, as was U.S. credibility, by Israel's rejection of it. This was followed by Israel's settlement activity, which was intensified and which was a direct answer to the President's initiative...

The U.S. looks at us and speaks of direct negotiations being the only way out, while we don't know what the U.S. position is.

We see things in the following way: Israel is on our land. It is there by virtue of American military and economic aid that translates into aid for Israeli settlements. Israel is there by virtue of American moral and political support to the point where the United States is succumbing to Israeli dictates.

It's obvious that this being the case, there is no way by which anyone should imagine it would be possible for Arabs to sit and talk with Israel as long as things are as they are ... We were ready to try to work with the Reagan plan ... But I can't see anything happening except further deterioration of the situation.

Additional information