The Diplomatic Agent at Tangier (Alling) to the Secretary of State

No. 488

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 421 of October 10, 1946,2 transmitting comments on the Department’s “Moroccan Policy Statement” and to submit herewith some additional remarks concerning the present and future status of Morocco.

The Department is aware, from reports from the Consular offices in Casablanca and Rabat, that Communist activities in the French Protectorate continue and may even be on the increase. In the International Zone Communist activities are limited and although an organization exists it does not appear for the time being to have any great influence or importance. Other services of the Legation are watching the situation closely, however, and any increase in activities will be reported. In the Spanish Zone the Communists, as would be expected, have been dispersed or gone underground. For the time being at any rate they are inactive publicly.

On the other hand, Nationalist activities in all three Zones are on the increase and seem likely to continue that trend. Nationalist endeavors are growing in the International Zone and during the past few months practically all of the prominent leaders have visited Tangier where the increasing freedom of the press gives them a better opportunity to air their views than they have in either the French or Spanish Zones. Also there is reason to believe that some of the Nationalist Leaders are in touch with the Arab League. For example, Sherif Ahmed Ben Sadek, Chief of the Derkawa Sect, with residence in Tangier, left recently for Cairo where he expects to spend two months. As the Department is aware, the Derkawa Sect is spread over a considerable area of North Africa and the Sherif exercises a large influence among his followers. It seems altogether likely that he will [Page 670] take advantage of his presence in Cairo to spread his views on Moroccan self-government among the members of the Arab League.

Here in Morocco there is no doubt that Nationalists have followed with close attention British negotiations in Egypt and India which give those countries practically complete independence. Leaders here cannot avoid making unfavorable comparisons between British policy in the East with what they call the “colonial imperialism” of France in North Africa and Indo-China. Sooner or later the situation in Morocco must be altered. Either the Communists or the Nationalists will gain the upper hand. If the Communists gain control and if later they should, through the fomentation of a civil war in Spain, take over the government of that country, the Straits of Gibraltar theoretically could be effectively sealed by them at almost any time. The Nationalists are quite well aware that they (the Moors) lack education, training and administrative experience to govern Morocco. This may not be their fault, but it is a fact. What many of the leaders would prefer is to have their country placed temporarily under a United Nations Trusteeship with the understanding that Morocco would be given self-government as soon as the inhabitants had been prepared to assume the responsibilities to manage their own affairs. In the meantime Moors could gradually be integrated into the administrative corps of the Shereefian Government.

Naturally any such solution, which seems to me the most logical arrangement in the light of current developments, depends upon an accommodation with France. I realize that our own safety and security depend to a considerable extent on a strong republican France. I question, however, whether France can become strong and remain strong in the face of opposition from Indo-Chinese, Tunisians, Algerians and Moroccans. The day is past, I assume, when the French could face the world with another large-scale bombardment of Damascus (or substitute for that city, Fez, Meknes or Tunis). Would it not, therefore, be in France’s own interest, and consequently ours, as long as France maintains a republican form of government, to come to some arrangement with Morocco and perhaps later with Tunisia and Algeria, by which these peoples would gradually be given a measure of self-government? An old song goes “Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong”. Perhaps fifty million Arabic-speaking peoples stretching from Casablanca to Basra and Dharan also may be right!

In any case I cannot imagine that the situation in North Africa will remain static. I consider it inconceivable that France can continue for any extended period to govern these people unless, of course, France becomes under outright Communist control. In that case North Africa may also go in that direction or, and more likely perhaps, [Page 671] French officials here, both civilian and Army, might break with the Metropole and set up a separate régime. There is nothing from our experience in the last war which would definitely indicate such a movement but I still consider it a possibility. Even in that case, however, I should suppose French leaders here would have to come to some agreement with the local populations.

I regret to say that I have no ideal solution for this problem. If I may be permitted, however, I should like to cast my vote in favor of exploring with the French and other interested Powers a proposal gradually to bring the Tangier Zone under the U.N.O., later all of Morocco, and finally to grant outright self-government first to Morocco and later to Tunisia and perhaps Algeria.

One last thought. In numerous discussions which I have had with military experts, American, British and French, during the past year and a half, all seem to be in agreement that Gibraltar is no longer of any important strategic value. At the same time practically all of these experts feel that highly adequate airfields could be developed in the Spanish Zone of Morocco. In this connection I should mention that in a moment of confidence a few weeks ago my Spanish colleague remarked that his government would be glad to accord airfield facilities in the Spanish Zone to the United Nations. I do not know whether he expressed his government’s views or his own wishes. In any case I suppose that the present Spanish Government would now probably be unwilling to grant such facilities to the United Nations. However, Senor Castillo, who has served as Under-secretary in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is probably in the confidence of his government and his statement may contain the germ of an idea which may at some time be of interest to the United Nations Security Council.

Very respectfully yours,

Paul H. Alling
  1. Not printed.