881.00/7–1146

The Acting Secretary of State to the Consul at Rabat (Pasquet)

secret

The Acting Secretary of State requests that, starting immediately upon the receipt of this instruction, the Consular Officer in Charge submit a fortnightly airgram on Communist activities in Morocco and on the Communist, or Communist-inspired, press and other forms of propaganda in that area. Similar instructions are being sent to the Consulate General at Tunis, the Consulate General at Casablanca, and the Consulate General at Algiers; and the Embassies at Paris and Moscow and the Legations at Tangier and Cairo are being informed.1 Copies of the Consulate’s airgrams should be sent to all of these offices.

When possible, and for purposes of consistency, the first part of the airgram should be devoted to Communist propaganda, tracing the line which is being followed and emphasizing such changes in the line as may be noted from time to time. The second part should contain a description of activities other than propaganda, showing in particular any trend which the activities may indicate and how they do or do not conform to the propaganda line. Special mention should be made of attempts, successful or otherwise, to recruit Moslems into the Communist or Communist-inspired parties or groups. The airgrams should be headed “Communist Activities—North Africa”.

For the secret background information of the Officer in Charge and for the guidance of the reporting officer in preparing the required airgrams, there is outlined below a brief analysis of the extent, intensity, and possible future direction of Communist activities in North Africa. Any comments which the Officer in Charge wishes to make on this analysis will be appreciated.

In general, it may be stated that the Communists have not as yet undertaken activities on an intensive scale in French North Africa, nor have the Communist parties in that area met with outstanding success in recruiting Moslems. Theoretically, it would seem that such a wide ideological gap exists between Communism and Mohammedanism that no basic community of interests could be established between [Page 52]the two groups which would stand the test of time. In this connection, however, attention is drawn to the fact that there are substantial Moslem communities in the USSR, that these Moslems are permitted to practice their religious rites, and that, as a result of the improved conditions which these Moslems enjoy under Communist domination as compared with their lot during the reign of the Czars, there are no indications of serious unrest among these peoples. Furthermore, it is possible that the Nationalist groups in North Africa might conceivably come to feel that there is something to be gained by a temporary alliance with the Communists, especially if the impression grows on them that they can expect nothing from France, and little more from the Western Powers. Regardless of the apparent logic which might motivate such a policy, the dangers to the Nationalists of attempting such an alliance cannot be over-emphasized as such alliances almost invariably result in advantages for the Communists at the expense of the other party.

Information in the Department’s possession indicates that at the present time the Communists still have hopes of gaining control in France and for that reason do not wish to endanger their future position by an open campaign seeking to stir up discontent or to raise hopes for independence among the natives of French North Africa. If the Communists were to gain control in France, however, it is probable that a full scale program would immediately be launched in North Africa to gain the support of the native inhabitants for Communism by means of granting certain reforms and nominal autonomy, which would be accompanied by intense propaganda to the effect that these reforms came to the Arabs solely as the result of the interest shown in them and the efforts made in their behalf by a Communist France. If such a program were successful, the ultimate strategic results would be the control of North Africa by Moscow.

On the other hand, it is quite conceivable that if the Communists once become convinced that they will be unable to gain control of France by peaceful means in the foreseeable future, they may, for that reason also, begin an intensive campaign of propaganda among the Moslems, the difference being that in this case the “line” would emphasize that the Arabs can expect nothing but oppression and the continued deprivation of all liberty so long as they are under the control of the French and that the Arabs should therefore strive for independence by agitation or by violent means, violence to be employed only as a last resort or under favorable circumstances. The object, of course, would be to weaken a France which would, in Communist eyes at least, have turned to the “western bloc”.

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In view of reports that there exists in North Africa a group of French Army officers who plan a military coup d’etat in the event that Communist activity or control becomes too great in either France or North Africa, continued reports on this group are requested.

It is, of course, quite possible that neither of the above patterns will actually take definite form in the near future, but the Department feels that it is important to watch closely any signs which may indicate a trend in any specific direction, and consequently particular care and thought should be given to the airgrams requested by this instruction. It is hoped that this will not prove too great an additional burden on your staff.

  1. The Legation at Cairo was requested to bring this subject to the attention of its Attaché who acted as an observer in Libya for his guidance in reporting on similar activities in that area (851S.00/7–1146).