881.00/2737: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul at Rabat (Mayer)46

6. We have conferred with the War Department on the subject of your no. 1, January 12, 3 p.m. and subsequent telegrams regarding the situation created by the demands of the Moroccan nationalists for independence. It is obvious that any agitation likely to hamper the war effort cannot be regarded with favor by this Government and that a political movement designed to alter the character of the French protectorate at this critical juncture of the war would be inopportune to say the least.

While the American people would view with sympathy any steps to improve the standard of civilization among the Moors which might [Page 537] be taken by the Sultan in collaboration with the French,47 an unfavorable reaction would certainly be created in this country if the demands of the nationalists led to disturbances or incidents in what is still a theatre of war operations. It would therefore appear advisable for the Sultan and the nationalist groups to avoid challenging the authority of the French and thereby undermining the security of the zone at this time.

We feel that you have taken the correct attitude in your conversations with Moroccans by suggesting that this is not the moment to argue the question of political independence but that broad changes in the concept of colonial or protectorate administrations may be anticipated after the war. Notwithstanding the support which the people of the United States recently gave to the aspirations of the Lebanon, it cannot be expected that the matter of Morocco’s status would be regarded in the same light because of the military and security considerations affecting our position in North Africa. An open dispute with the French at present could only harm Morocco and work to the advantage of Axis agents and propaganda.

You may make use of the foregoing in any conversation you may have with either French or Moroccan personalities.

Repeat to Tangier, Algiers, Casablanca and Tunis.

  1. Notation on original: “Approved by the President.”
  2. On January 17, 1944, the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Murray) wrote in a letter to Mayer: “… while the Department does not have a precisely defined policy with respect to the Arab problem in French North Africa and while we are careful to bear in mind the desirability of dealing through the French on these matters, we are nevertheless aware of what appears to be a sympathetic interest in the native problem of Morocco in the highest quarters.” (881.00/1–1744)