881.00/7–945: Telegram

No. 671
The Ambassador in Spain (Armour) to the Acting Secretary of State 1

confidential
us urgent

1475. Although I well understand and thoroughly agree that Soviet Govt should not be permitted to obtain impression that western powers are acting in unilateral manner with regard to Tangier, fail to see how invitation to that govt actively to participate in Tangier conversations at this stage can be justified so long as small powers having legitimate interest [as?] parties to Tangier statute are excluded. (Your 1140, July 52) Dept’s statement that it sees “no reason why the small nations should wish to be invited at this time” to participate in conversations I find difficult to understand in light of inescapable interest of such nations in any change in status of a zone in administration of which they were active participants prior to Span occupation, an interest which would moreover be considerably enhanced should it become apparent to them that in their absence conversations would be conducted inter alia by great powers having little or no direct interest in Tangier.

Numbered paragraph 3 of ref teleg would seem to indicate it is Dept’s view Russians should participate as well in proposed interim occupation of Tangier zone. If this is in fact the case 1 feel strongly Dept should be fully aware of possible consequences of such participation on position of Span Govt vis-à-vis Tangier settlement and on our relations with Spain. Although as Dept is well aware 1 hold no brief for present Span regime I consider it unrealistic to overlook fact [Page 1002]that Spain is country with preponderant natural interest in Tangier and that without Span cooperation no solution of Tangier question can be enduring. While Span Govt is willing to terminate its unilateral occupation of Tangier under circumstances which would avoid embarrassment to it, Soviet participation in proposed reoccupation would arouse non-Partisan popular resentment in Spain and preclude possibility of voluntary Span withdrawal, alternative to which might well be serious incident resulting in rapid deterioration of relations between occupying powers (including US) and Spain and strengthening of hand of Falange Extremist elements. In view of increasing tendency on part of our Govt to use Spain as source of supply and base for ATC and other related operations and in view also of importance of Span cooperation in attainment of Safehaven objectives, I assume that neither drastic deterioration of our relations with Spain nor serious internal disorders in this country would be considered to be in our interest.

Although I am hardly in position to pass judgment on Span Govt’s fearful contention that Russia’s entry into Tangier would be opening wedge in campaign to establish Soviet influence in North Africa and western Mediterranean and to replace other foreign spheres of influence in Morocco by means of Communist penetration and unscrupulous use of Moroccan nationalist sentiment, I do consider it entirely probable that as suggested by head of Brit delegation (Paris 4005, July 4 to Dept3) Russians would take advantage of presence in Tangier at least to carry on activities designed to embarrass and weaken Franco regime. Regardless of dismal view we may take of latter such activities would inevitably contribute to world instability at time when stability is at a premium.

I realize importance of our relations with Russia outweighs that of our relations with Spain but I do not see that that justifies our working to bring about a situation which might in the end place both in jeopardy. I appreciate also that Russia’s vast contribution to victory in Europe entitles her to a major voice in reorganization of liberated Europe but feel it might well be pointed out that Tangier, an integral part of Shereefian Empire, is in no sense a prize of war and is not therefore subject to disposition as such. Should Soviet Govt persist in demanding active participation in interim Tangier regime I believe it would be in our ultimate interest to offer to renounce our own right to such participation in return for similar action on part of Russia, thus leaving actual reoccupation of zone to those powers most directly concerned as parties to Tangier statute.

Rptd London 440, Paris 381, Tangier 81.

Armour
  1. The gist of this message was included in telegram No. 15 of July 11 from Grew to Byrnes (file No. 800.00 Summaries/7–1145).
  2. See document No. 667.
  3. Document No. 664.