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

No. 536

Sir: I have the honor to report that a Nationalist French-language weekly sheet (reported to be affiliated with the Istiqlal party) made its appearance in Rabat on March 8, 1947 under the title L’Opinion du Peuple. The paper was devoted largely to news of the Arab League and independent Arab states of the Near East and prominently reported proceedings of the first Congress in Cairo of representatives of North African Arab countries which took place during the second half of February 1947. The term “Moghreb Arabe” was used to embrace Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia whose aggregate populations are estimated at 25 millions.

The paper stated that Abderrahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, assumed the post of Honorary President of the Congress and in a speech opening the meeting expressed the sympathy of the Arab League for the Nationalist aspirations of the North African Arabs. Noteworthy portions of the speech as reported follow in translation:

“.…1 The League, which is the weapon of the Arabs in their struggle for liberty, is not only at the service of independent nations, but it is chiefly at the service of those peoples still under domination and imperialism.… We have made representations to Spain and France, first as objective advisers, then as interested partisans in the cause of North African independence, and the latest decision of the Arab League was embodied in a statement I have just addressed to France, recalling to her the rights of the Moghreb Arabs and advising [Page 675] her not to remain attached, in this age of enlightenment and liberty, to ideas which characterize the Middle Ages. I asked her to reconsider the North African question in the light of new ideas which govern the world.…”

The newspaper report stated that the Congress set for itself the following goals:

To study the Moghreb problem and attempt to arrive at a solution.
Permit all interested parties to express their views as regards their peculiar problems and attempt to put an end to lying propaganda designed to maintain the status quo.

It appears that the principal result of the Congress was the assimilation of the efforts of the several North African independence groups represented at Cairo into a new agency called the “Bureau du Moghreb Arabe”. The parties subscribing to this new office are stated to be:

The Committee of Defense of Morocco in Cairo (Istiqlal party representative)

The Khalifian (Spanish Moroccan) Delegation near the Arab League

The Section of the Party of the Algerian People in Cairo

The Section of the Destourian Party in Cairo.

Respectfully yours,

Paul H. Alling
  1. Omissions as indicated in the source text.