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

No. 1876

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of the Department’s No. 128, December 21 [1], 1943,22 concerning the interest of our Government in the native situation in French North Africa, and to inform the Department that according to reliable information given me, spokesmen of the Moorish Nationalist movement in French Morocco [Page 525] are expected to make an appeal in late January, 1944, through the Sultan to the French National Committee of Liberation, as well as to Allied representatives, for a greater participation by the native population in the administration of the Protectorate at the close of the war.

The foregoing information was given to me today by Muley el Larbi, Khalifa of the Pasha of Marrakech, who is in close touch with the Sultan and with Moorish Nationalists. Muley el Larbi has just returned from a visit to the Sultan in Rabat where he went to obtain instructions concerning the difficulties between the Sultan of Morocco and the Khalifa of Spanish Morocco regarding the settlement of the estate of the late Sultan Abdul Aziz (see the Legation’s despatch No. 1806 of November 30, 194323). The information was given me on the occasion of my entertainment of Muley el Larbi at a luncheon at which the French Consul in Tangier was also present, but the latter was not a participant in our conversation. I may say by way of parenthesis that I have always made it a point, when inviting Muley el Larbi to the Legation, to invite at the same time a member of the staff of the French Consulate General in Tangier in order that there may be no suggestion given my French colleague of any interference in the internal affairs of the French Protectorate.

My Moorish guest stated that at the time of the Lebanese crisis,24 the French Resident General, M. Gabriel Puaux, sent word to Moorish Nationalist leaders and informed them of the French desire to give consideration to a larger participation by the Moors in the French administration of Morocco. He is stated to have requested them to formulate their desires in this respect in order that they might be transmitted to the French National Committee of Liberation in Algiers.

The Moorish Nationalist leaders are stated to have expressed their intention of examining M. Puaux’s request, but, in reality, according to Muley el Larbi, they were not at all satisfied to have their aspirations considered solely by the French North African authorities. Accordingly, they have proposed to formulate a petition expressive of Moorish Nationalist aspirations which will be delivered personally by one or more of the following: Hadj Omar Ben Abdel Jalil (Nationalist leader, agronomic engineer, residing on a farm at Boulhaut near Casablanca), Abdel Kabir el Fassy (Judge of the Higher Shereefian Tribunal at Rabat), and Si Mohamed el Fassy (Vice President of the Oulemas Councils of the University of Karaouyne, Fez), to Mr. Bird, British Consul General in Rabat, and to Mr. H. Earl [Page 526] Russell, American Consul General in Casablanca, during the latter part of January some days in advance of the presentation of a like petition to the Sultan intended for M. Puaux and the French National Committee of Liberation.

Muley el Larbi did not give any hint as to what the communication to be delivered to Mr. Russell, Mr. Bird, and to the Sultan might contain, but he was explicit in emphasizing the desire of the Moorish Nationalists that the communication should not be considered as one intended solely for the French North African authorities but that it was also directed to the Allies.

It is evident to me from the foregoing that the Moorish Nationalists are bent upon using the American and British authorities to play them off against the French, and I would respectfully suggest that while avoiding giving offense to legitimate Moorish Nationalist aspirations, we refrain from being made cat’s-paws for the circumlocutory intrigues to which the Moors are so addicted. In this connection my British colleague25 informs me that when the Pasha of Marrakech, El Glaoui, visited Tangier he made light, in his conversation with M. Gascoigne, of the importance of the Moorish Nationalists.

If Mr. Russell and Mr. Bird receive the Moorish Nationalist leaders, their reception is likely to give offense to the French Resident General, while on the other hand, the failure to receive them may be made much of by the Moorish Nationalists. Solution of the dilemma is one which will no doubt be dictated on the basis of broad governmental policy with respect to the native problem and our relations with the French North African authorities. It has seemed desirable to bring this information to the attention of the Department in order that prompt consideration may be given to the instructions to be given to this Legation or to Mr. Russell directly as to the policy to be pursued in receiving the delegation of Moorish Nationalist leaders mentioned above, or similar delegations which may ask to be received by us in the future. In this connection I would recall to the Department my despatch No. 1645 of August 25, 1943,26 in which there was set forth the misuse by a Spanish Moroccan Nationalist leader of my alleged reception of him at the Legation. As the Department is aware, we have sedulously refrained in the past from direct contact with the Moorish Nationalist movement, or with local Moorish officials in view of the terms of the French Protectorate Treaty with the Sultan of March 30, 1912,27 Article 5 of which provides, inter alia, that “the [Page 527] Resident Commissioner General shall be the sole intermediary of the Sultan near foreign representatives and in the relations which these representatives maintain with the Moroccan government. In particular he shall have charge of all matters relating to foreigners in the Shereefian Empire.” The French Government has, in the past, contended that our recognition of the French Protectorate in Morocco carried with it the recognition in particular of the above quoted provision of the Protectorate Treaty. It would seem, therefore, that the most careful study should be given to the question raised in this despatch regarding the possible reception by an American diplomatic or consular officer of Moorish Nationalist leaders which would represent a signal departure from our policy in Morocco since the date of our recognition of the Protectorate in 1916 [1917].28

Respectfully yours,

J. Rives Childs
  1. Not printed; it repeated mutatis mutandis the unnumbered instruction sent to the Consul General at Casablanca on the same date, ibid., p. 745.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For correspondence relating to the representations made by the United States to the French Committee of National Liberation concerning the Franco-Lebanese crisis of November 1943, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, pp. 996 ff.
  4. Alvary D. F. Gascoigne, British Consul General at Tangier.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Traité entre la France et le Maroc pour l’établissement d’un régime régulier et l’introduetion des réformes nécessaires, signed at Fez, March 30, 1912, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cvi, p. 1023.
  7. For correspondence relating to United States recognition of the French Protectorate in Morocco, see Foreign Relations, 1916, pp. 800 ff., and ibid., 1917, pp. 1093 ff.