The Consul General at Casablanca (Russell) to the Secretary of State
[Received 8 p.m.]
32. Persons under American protection in French Morocco according to treaties and regime of capitulations inform me that French authorities are threatening requisition of their entire olive crops. Such requisition is absolutely contrary to treaty rights as emphasized since beginning of war by Department [of] State. French general at Marrakech in such requisition case states that “The American authorities themselves have insisted that this rule be strictly applied”. I have ascertained that the General is correct inasmuch as order apparently comes from head of Combined Food Committee at Algiers. This matter was never discussed with us or apparently notified to Department State authorities in Morocco. Combined Food Committee apparently does not realize that the status of Morocco is very different from that of Algeria and Tunisia and that above action taken here, without discussion with us and apparently without notification to Department, and thus giving Protectorate authorities certain rights contrary to treaty, gravely embarrasses us in insisting on treaty rights in general.
It is respectfully suggested that matters affecting Morocco should first be discussed by other Government agencies with us so that, if of importance to general war effort and contrary to treaty, they may be referred to Department for permission temporarily to derogate from treaty rights and make them applicable here through normal channels. In view of fait accompli in the present matter instructions are requested whether I should notify protected persons upon whom requisition is levied, and who have complained to Consulate, that U.S. Government approves of action of Protectorate authorities.[Page 508]
I am informed further that the entire olive oil production of French North Africa is being blocked by Allied action reportedly at French instigation so that it can be shipped to France immediately after liberation. Speaking for Morocco I regret this as this production is badly needed here notably in absence of pre-war imports of French West African peanut oil which are understood to be directed now mainly to Great Britain.
Requisitions here of foodstuffs will complicate the political situation as Nationalist leaders will doubtless use the economic argument of scarcity resulting therefrom with the masses of natives to further their own ends.
Repeated to Tangier as my 17 and to Algiers as my 10, true reading to Rabat.