881.00/7–2745: Telegram

No. 1361
The Chief of the Division of African Affairs (Villard) to the Acting Secretary of State1

secret

215. From Villard.

During a call which I made on the Spanish High Commissioner at Tetuán this morning, General Varela spoke for an hour and a half on Spain’s interest in Tangier. He asserted that his govt had occupied [Page 1418]the international zone in 1940 only because of a German threat, that unless Spain did so German forces would be moved in. The Spanish action had thus preserved Tangier for the Allies. When I pointed out the effect had actually been to create a base for Nazi espionage Varela claimed that the presence of a few individual enemy agents was inevitable in wartime and that he could personally vouch for the fact that no Spanish official in the Ministry of War was ever guilty of complicity in such events.

Moreover, Spain’s control of Tangier, said General Varela[,] had insured a regime of tranquility and was respecte[d] by the Moors, in contrast with the French handling of affairs in the Levant. He spoke sharply of France’s efforts to enhance her position in Tangier, a city whose inhabitants were predominately Spanish, and complained that the Sultan was being constantly built up by the French merely to increase their own prestige.

The High Commissioner expressed great fear that Russia’s principal intention in Tangier was to establish a foothold for the dissemination of Communist propaganda among the Arabs. He urged that serious consideration be given to the results in Morocco. By admitting Russia to the administration of Tangier the Anglo-Saxon powers would bear the responsibility for the repercussions which would certainly follow throughout the Arab world.

General Varela said that Spain relied on Great Britain and the US to bear in mind her natural rights and interests in the forthcoming discussions at Paris wherein Spain was to have no voice. He said that of paramount importance to Spain in Tangier was the police force, which for the sake of order and security should remain in Spanish hands.

Sent Dept as 215, repeated Paris 20, Madrid 89 and London 23.

  1. Sent over the signature of Paul H, Ailing, Diplomatic Agent at Tangier.