381.11 Said, Sid Mohamed Ben

The Chargé at Tangier ( Rand ) to the Secretary of State

No. 144

Sir: I have the honor to refer to Despatch No. 20 of July 24, 1922 and to No. 64 of November 21, 192218 from this Agency and Consulate-General and to the Department’s instructions Nos. 221 of October 10, 1922 and 241 of December 26, 1922, (both under file number 381.11–Said, Sid Mohamed Ben), relative to the granting of an American protection certificate to Mohamed Ben Said of Salee, as Semsar of the “Vacuum Oil Company” in that city. In this connection I have the honor to inform the Department that under date of June 9, 1923, the American Consul at Casablanca reported to this Agency that he had received a Note from the “Cabinet Diplomatique” at Rabat stating that the Maghzen refuses to recognize Mohamed Ben Said as being under American protection.

I have subsequently received from the Residency-General of France at Rabat, a communication under date of June 8, 1923, indicating that this native who had already figured on the American protection lists for 1921 and 1922, had not been recognized as an American protégé by the Maghzen for reasons given in previous correspondence from the French Residency-General to the American Agency at Tangier, correspondence which was duly transmitted to the Department in Despatch No. 20 of July 24, 1922, above mentioned.

In its communication of June 8, 1923, the Residency-General of France at Rabat, makes the following statement:—

“His (Mohamed Ben Said’s) case was particularly considered in the course of conversations which took place at Casablanca last January at the time of Mr. Denning’s stay there, and Mohamed Ben Said was signalized to the latter as an example of that class of natives who, without being ex-German protégés, have nevertheless always distinguished themselves by their opposition to France and to the Maghzen. Mr. Denning was good enough to give Mr. de Sorbier de [Page 601] Pougnadoresse the assurance that the next American protection list would not comprise the name of Mohamed Ben Said, who, distinctly hostile to our policy, obviously sought American protection only to secure impunity for his political activities. I am therefore convinced that it is in consequence of an error that the name of this native is mentioned on the list for 1923, and I have caused instructions to be given to the local authorities to consider him only as a Moroccan, subject to the common law.”

Inasmuch as the substance of a Note, as outlined in the Department’s instruction No. 241 of December 26, 1922, (File No. 381.11–Said, Mohamed Ben), was not addressed to the French Authorities at Rabat, it is presumed that the informal discussions between them and Mr. Denning did actually lead to some understanding in regard to Ben Said’s protection, and the fact that Mr. Denning subsequently issued a Semsar certificate in favor of this native would appear to indicate that he was satisfied that the French objections had been overcome.

It is therefore possible that the excerpt above given from the last communication from the French Residency-General is the result of the latter’s mis-conception of the nature of the understanding reached with Mr. Denning.

It is difficult for me to make an appropriate reply to the communication in question without definite knowledge of Mr. Denning’s construction of his conversation with the Delegate of the Residency-General. The record of Mr. Denning’s conversation with Mr. de Sorbier is found in Despatch No. 88 of January 31, 192319 from this Agency and Consulate-General, and contains no specific reference to the case of Ben Said. Since it is understood that Mr. Denning intends to visit the Department before proceeding to his home, it is respectfully requested that the Department, after availing itself of the information which only Mr. Denning can give, will transmit to this office such instructions as will lead to the removal of the misunderstanding which appears to have arisen.

The importance of this case becomes the greater in view of a number of other cases recently brought to my attention which appear to indicate that the French authorities are deliberately pursuing a policy injurious to the standing of American ressortisscmts in the French Zone.

In conclusion, I would further respectfully request that the Department’s instructions be transmitted to me as early as possible since it is evident that the present equivocal position is susceptible of aggravation by precipitate action on the part of the local authorities in pursuance of their instructions from the Residency-General to treat Mohamed Ben Said as a native, subject to the common law [Page 602] despite the fact that he actually holds an American protection certificate.

I have [etc.]

Elbridge D. Rand
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