LONDON (Mar. 5)
The Jordanian dismissal of Lt. Gen. John B. Glubb as head of the Arab Legion has caused the British Foreign Office, for the first time, to believe that the greatest danger to peace in the Middle East may lie in Arab aggression, it was learned here today even as Prime Minister Anthony Eden told the House of Commons that Britain was studying the effect of this development on the entire Middle East situation.
At the same time, Sir Anthony told the House that all senior British officers serving with the Legion–about 15–were being withdrawn and that the future of some 50 British officers serving in the Legion under contract would be discussed with the Jordan government. He further revealed that “these are matters we are discussing with our allies,” but refused to comment on the wider aspects.
In another development, Sir Anthony called the commanding officers of the British Army and Royal Air Force to an emergency Cabinet meeting devoted to the worsening Middle East situation. Although the Foreign Office appears to be swinging to the view that the withdrawal of British control from the Legion may lead to that force being used as the spearhead of an attack on Israel, there was no indication whether this would lead to any change in the Western policy of withholding arms from Israel.
It became evident here today that members of Sir Anthony’s own Conservative Party were becoming restive under the Eden-Dulles policy. Sir Robert Boothby, Conservative, demanded in the House an immediate joint Anglo-American policy for the Middle East and a decision whether the West will permit Israel to be destroyed by Arabs using Communist arms. Julian Amery, a Conservative “rebel,” criticized the withdrawal of all British officers from the Arab Legion, insisting that this was just what the extreme nationalists in Jordan had wanted.
Richard Crossman, Labor M. P. asked the Prime Minister whether the withdrawal of British officers would not create the “gravest danger of new incidents” along the Israel Jordan border. Sir Anthony replied that “the House must judge” the effect for itself. Asked whether the British Government would withdraw its annual subsidy to Jordan on account of the Arab Legion–it amounted to nine million pounds last year–the Prime Minister said that this was one of a number of problems being studied in relation to the situation. Eden promised Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labor Party, that there would be a debate on the matter later in the week.