INRNIE files

1

National Intelligence Estimate2

secret
NIE–71–54

Probable Developments in North Africa3

the problem

To estimate probable developments in North Africa.*

conclusions

1.
The chief problem in North Africa is the growing state of tension created by the unresolved conflict between France and the rapidly growing nationalist movement in French possessions, especially in Tunisia and Morocco. While nationalism has nowhere yet developed the strength to present a serious threat to over-all French control, an increasing number of North African nationalists have adopted extremist tactics as the path to independence.
2.
The nature of ties between France and its North African possessions and France’s determination to maintain these ties make extremely difficult any reconciliation between French interests and nationalist desires for complete independence. At the same time, the French recognize the necessity for further reforms, and over the next few years will probably grant a degree of internal autonomy, first in Tunisia and later in Morocco. However, in the short term, the French will not make concessions which will endanger their strategic control of the area or destroy the privileged economic position of the settlers of French descent (colons).
3.
Despite any short-term accommodation between the French and the Tunisian and Moroccan nationalists, we consider it almost certain that opposition to remaining French controls will continue to grow at [Page 154]an increasing rate, although temporary periods of quiescence will occur. Limited and gradual French reform programs are unlikely to reduce tension more than temporarily or to keep pace with increasing nationalist demands. Extremists are likely to gain effective control over the majority of politically active Tunisians and Moroccans within the next few years, except in the unlikely event that moderate nationalists are able through negotiations to make progress clearly leading toward ultimate independence for the two protectorates.
4.
As the strength of the nationalists increases, they will, in the absence of adequate French concessions, almost certainly resort to violence. They will intensify their terrorist guerrilla-type activities, and might eventually organize a large-scale uprising. They would anticipate that a campaign of violence would arouse favorable world opinion and result in political intervention, probably through the UN. However, so long as French military capabilities are not seriously reduced, we believe that the nationalists, because of their insufficient organization and their military weakness, will not be able to oust the French by force.
5.
Nevertheless, increasing native resistance will probably—within the next decade (possibly even within the next three to five years)—create a serious drain on French resources, strain the determination of the French to maintain their dominant position, and impede use of the area as a base by France and by the US. In the long run France will probably either have to grant independence voluntarily or resort to increasingly costly military repression. In the latter case France may eventually be presented with problems insoluble short of complete withdrawal from Tunisia and Morocco.
6.
Increasing nationalist resistance to French control in North Africa might constitute a serious threat to the security of US bases in the area, particularly if the nationalist movements should establish a common front with the Communists. As long as nationalist leaders continue to hope for US support they will try to restrain their followers from attacks on the bases. However, some extremists may not obey their leaders, and, as the situation deteriorates, sporadic demonstrations and raids against the bases will become increasingly likely.
7.
The growth of organized nationalist activity in Algeria will probably lag behind that in adjacent areas. The objectives of many Algerian nationalists are likely to remain moderate in the next few years, with emphasis on removal of discrimination and on greater Moslem participation in government. However, because of the large French population and the fact that Algeria is technically part of metropolitan France, the French almost certainly will not grant any considerable degree of autonomy. French concessions are therefore unlikely to be sufficient to prevent the further growth of the nationalist movement.
8.
We believe that the Communists are unlikely to capture control of the nationalist movements. However, once the main body of nationalists has come to accept the strategy of violent action, the Communist parties—now small, weak, and with little influence—are almost certain to coordinate activities with the nationalists, and may come to be accepted as allies.
9.
The efforts of both sides to secure US support confront the US itself with major policy decisions and the prospect of a serious strain on its relations with many nations in the Free World. If the US appeared to favor the North African nationalists, it would probably succeed in deterring nationalist-Communist collaboration and in assuring the physical security of its present North African bases for a longer time. By doing so, however, the US would invite serious complications in its relations with France and in its utilization of these bases. On the other hand, if the US strongly supported its NATO partner, it would almost certainly lose influence among the Near and Far Eastern states, as well as be subjected to interference at the Moroccan bases. Sharp differences between the Arab states and the Western Powers over North Africa would almost certainly lessen the possibility of Arab cooperation with the West in Middle East defense.
10.
Libya will probably remain oriented toward the West, but its economic weakness, political immaturity, and unresolved Tripolitanian-Cyrenaican differences create problems which may threaten its future stability. Such increased internal instability might impede, but almost certainly would not preclude, use of Libyan bases by the US and the UK.

discussion

I. Strategic Importance of North Africa

11.
North Africa is of major strategic importance chiefly because of its geographic location and its extensive military base network. North Africa provides a base for: (a) control of the Western Mediterranean and its Atlantic approaches; (b) invasion operations within the Mediterranean basin; and (c) air operations against Europe, the European USSR, and the Middle East.
12.
Military. French North Africa, with its population of well over 20,000,000, is important to France in particular as: (a) a reservoir of military manpower; (b) the site of major bases and training areas; and (c) a place to which the French and others could retreat, if necessary, in event of war. Spain utilizes Spanish Morocco as a source of native troops and as a training area.
13.
According to French standards for colonial troops, there are 2,700,000 physically fit natives of military age in French North Africa. There are at present over 95,000 North African natives in the French [Page 156]Army (approximately 14 percent of total French forces). Of these, some 45,000 are in North Africa and about 35,000 are in Indochina. Important French naval bases exist at Casablanca, Mers-el-Kebir, Bizerte, and at Algiers, which is the headquarters of the NATO Western Mediterranean Command. Morocco is the chief basic training area for the French air force. The US has completed three of the four Moroccan strategic air bases provided for in the 1951 agreement with the French. It also has expanded the naval air base at Port Lyautey, which is operated jointly with the French. For at least the next 3 or 4 years the strategic importance of these Moroccan air bases probably will not decrease, even though similar base facilities in Spain are developed for US use.
14.
Libya’s location in the Eastern Mediterranean region gives it considerable military importance. The US and the UK each operate a large air base there. Libya also serves as a British garrison area, the importance of which has increased as a result of the Suez settlement.
15.
Political. North Africa is politically important because it is the scene of a growing conflict between native nationalists and the French. The French believe that their power position depends largely on their ability to retain North Africa. French efforts to retain their position, however, will vitally affect native reactions toward the West and will have major repercussions upon US–French relations. They will also influence Western relations with the Arab-Asian countries, since colonialism in North Africa is a source of great concern to these governments.
16.
Economic. The predominantly agricultural economies of North Africa are relatively poor and underdeveloped, and the area’s resources developed thus far are not of major economic importance except to France. The chief minerals—phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, and zinc—constitute a relatively small portion of Free World supplies but are of importance to France. About 10 percent of French imports (mainly wines, cereals, vegetables, vegetable oils, and minerals) come from North Africa, while about 20 percent of French exports go to that area. France provides about 70 percent of North Africa’s imports and receives about 60 percent of its exports. On the other hand, French North Africa’s postwar budgetary and trade deficits have been a burden on France. The French have developed excellent port facilities and a good transport network.

II. Current Problems in French and Spanish North Africa

17.
The French Position in North Africa. Although the French protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco are nominally sovereign states under their own native rulers, the Bey and the Sultan, in practice France controls and administers each country. Algeria is administered as an integral part of France. French security control of the three [Page 157]regions is maintained by a garrison of some 141,000 troops and 6,500 gendarmérie. At the same time, French ability to control Tunisia and Morocco through pro-French native elements is likely to become weakened: (a) as a result of terrorist activities, native officials are likely to attend to their duties with increasing fear and reluctance; (b) French supported Moslem religious confraternities are likely to lose their fervor and influence as modernism spreads; (c) outlying Berber tribes will be drawn increasingly into the mainstream of nationalist action as more and more of their members migrate to the cities.
18.
The French Government and the roughly 1,400,000 residents in North Africa of French descent (colons) dominate the administration and the economy in all three areas; most technical and supervisory positions are held by the French. A large majority of these colons strongly oppose concessions to local nationalists, advocate severe repression of nationalism, and have shown a growing disposition to undertake vigilante retaliation against terrorism. They have considerable influence on the French Residencies in Tunisia and Morocco and on Paris because of their French citizenship and political and financial connections in the metropole. This group thus constitutes a major impediment to the formation and implementation of a liberal French policy for North Africa.
19.
The Rise of Nationalism in French North Africa. The most serious problem in North Africa is the growing state of tension created by the postwar growth of nationalist sentiment, especially in Tunisia and Morocco. In Algeria nationalist sentiment is less intense. Among the Arab and Berber population, especially the small educated classes, there has been a steady increase in political consciousness and sense of national identity, largely as a result of the continuing impact of Western political, social, and economic concepts and institutions, and the concomitant weakening of belief in the traditions and social institutions of Islam. The nationalists in general look toward ultimate independence, but they are split into moderate and extremist factions which vary in their immediate demands. Moreover, the nationalist movement in Algeria is still internally divided and in some areas of Tunisia and Morocco it has been deprived of effective leadership through arrests. However, the nationalist parties in the protectorates are developing a considerable degree of organization, especially in Tunisia. Because of French suppression of nationalist activities, the leading parties have been forced to operate on a clandestine basis.
20.
Although nationalism has nowhere yet developed the strength to present a serious threat to over-all French control, the inability of moderate nationalists in either Tunisia or Morocco to secure substantial concessions from the French has led to the growth of extremism [Page 158]and to terrorist activities which the French have been unable to repress. The nationalists have been encouraged to press their demands more actively by developments in Iran and Egypt, and by the external sympathy and support they have received. In particular, Arab-Asian efforts to secure them a UN hearing have served as a major stimulus to their cause. Furthermore, France’s defeat and loss of prestige in Indochina have encouraged a growing number of nationalists to regard extremist tactics as the path to independence. And, while some nationalist leaders may believe that the outcome in Vietnam demonstrated the dangers of being swallowed up while collaborating with the Communists, many of their followers probably believe that events in Indochina demonstrated the effectiveness of Communist aid.
21.
Terrorist Activities. Organized terrorist campaigns have developed during the past two years in Tunisia and since mid-1953 in Morocco. The rise of terrorism has largely been due to: (a) the inability of moderate nationalist leaders to win concessions from the French; (b) the reaction in Morocco to the Sultan’s deposition; (c) French arrest of the recognized nationalist leaders, leaving the field clear for more extremist elements; (d) repressive actions which drove the nationalist parties underground; and (e) the utility of violent tactics as a means of attracting international attention. There have been increasing indications that moderate leaders who have rejected violence as their major instrument of political action are losing control over extreme nationalists. Terrorist operations in both protectorates indicate a considerable degree of general guidance and coordination on at least a regional level, but specific actions and tactics do not appear to be coordinated and some actions probably are spontaneous in character.
22.
In Tunisia, the terrorist activities of extremist nationalists in the cities have been supplemented with raids by organized bands. These fellagah§ bands, probably totaling about 1,200 men, are directed by leaders who show evidence of considerable skill and training. Apparently Libya and the Arab League are playing only a minor role at present in supplying and training these terrorists. The fellagah have assumed a measure of importance out of proportion to their numbers because they represent the first nationalist attempt to create organized armed forces to combat French control of North Africa.
23.
In Morocco, the terrorists initially attacked pro-French natives, and turned against French nationals only as their campaign expanded. Similarly, terrorist activities at first were concentrated mainly in the cities, but they spread to rural areas last spring with the burning of crops and properties. No hostility toward the terrorists on the part of the native population has thus far been evident.
24.
Nationalists in both Tunisia and Morocco have also succeeded to a considerable extent in enforcing boycotts against European or modern [Page 159]goods, dress, and methods of farming. This development is in sharp contradiction to the Western-oriented program generally advocated by dominant nationalist groups in North Africa. It is possible that the expansion of such a movement could lead to religious fanaticism and indiscriminate hatred of the West, further exacerbating the problem of North African nationalism.
25.
Tunisia. The native society in Tunisia is politically and culturally the most advanced in North Africa and has been allowed, since World War II, some participation in government by the French. The principal Tunisian nationalist party, the Neo-Destour, has long had substantial support in rural as well as urban areas, and appears to have a large measure of control over nationalist activities. The Bey is a less influential factor in the nationalist problem than the Sultan of Morocco. Thus the nationalist problem in Tunisia, although as acute as that in Morocco, is less complex and lends itself more readily to negotiation.
26.
The Mendes-France government is dealing first with Tunisia. The program offered Tunisia is based upon: (a) the grant of internal autonomy, to be implemented within a determinate period; (b) insistence on the maintenance of France’s control over foreign affairs, defense, and for some time, finance; and (c) guarantees to protect the position of the colons. A new Tunisian Government, including several Neo-Destour ministers, formed as a result of the offering of this program, is to negotiate its implementation with the French.
27.
French Morocco. French difficulties in developing a rapprochement with the nationalists have been greatly increased by the continuing storm of controversy over France’s deposition of the popular, pro-nationalist Sultan Mohammed V in the summer of 1953. His pliable relative, the present Sultan, has not been accepted by most Moroccans. Moreover, the reforms imposed on Morocco by the French after the Sultan’s deposition have been discredited, and there has been a further increase in mutual mistrust between the French and the nationalists. On the other hand, the colons and the Berber chieftain, the Pasha of Marrakech, are demanding that France stand firm with the present Sultan and refuse concessions to the nationalists. Much more numerous than their compatriots in Tunisia, the colons in Morocco also have more extensive economic interests and play a larger role in French political and economic control of the area. The Pasha cannot claim the allegiance of most Berbers, who constitute about half the population. Many of them appear to have been attracted to the predominantly Arab nationalist cause. The Pasha has consistently collaborated with the French and has aided them to marshal considerable numbers of his tribesmen for “spontaneous demonstrations” to give a semblance of native support to French policies.
28.
Support for the Istiqlal, the leading Moroccan nationalist party, [Page 160]until recently consisted of an educated middle-class minority, with a popular base largely in urban laboring groups. The Istiqlal is now gaining support in the countryside. In general, however, the illiterate rural bulk of the population, while it has been aroused by such a dramatic event as the Sultan’s deposition, is not easily brought into organized opposition.
29.
Algeria. In contrast to the situation in the protectorates, Algeria has been relatively tranquil since the large-scale uprising in 1945, and there is no indication of impending violence. Longest under French control, Algeria has the largest population of French descent. The indigenous population is permitted French citizenship, though participation in government is severely limited by various devices “which insure the political predominance of the French residents. The nationalist movement is still largely factionalized: an extremist faction favors violent action to achieve independence, while a moderate group appears to favor gradual evolution within the French Union. A third group, composed of ulema (students of Moslem law and traditions) but with a rather modern outlook, has been increasingly active in trying to unify nationalists under its leadership and may well have growing success. The Algerian nationalists on occasion cooperate with the Communists on tactical issues, but the latter’s frequent attempts to bring about a closer relationship have consistently failed.
30.
Spanish Morocco and Tangier. Close Spanish controls and some 50–60,000 troops maintain order in Spanish Morocco. The nationalist Islah Party has developed some strength but lacks widely based support in a poor region which has had little exposure to Western ideas and technology. As part of its policy of wooing the Arab States and embarrassing France, Spain has made gestures favorable to native nationalism, but has not materially relaxed its control. While Spain may soon introduce reforms which give titular administrative positions to nationalist leaders, there is no indication that it intends to grant any significant degree of self-government. However, it probably will continue its attempts to embarrass the French through an ostensibly lenient attitude toward the natives in Spanish Morocco.
31.
Spain’s demands for restoration of its prewar role in the administration of the International Zone of Tangier have been largely satisfied by the other participating powers. However, Tangier is likely to remain an arena for French and Spanish disagreements. France would like to see stronger measures taken against nationalist activities in Tangier, but Spain will probably seek to use the Zone as a safe haven for non-violent, anti-French, nationalist operations.
32.
Cooperation between the Nationalist Movements. Prior to 1954 the nationalist movements in French North Africa made only limited efforts to coordinate their activities, largely confining themselves to sympathy strikes and “days of mourning” designed to show Moslem [Page 161]solidarity. However, under the sponsorship of the Arab League, a new Committee for the Liberation of North Africa was founded in Cairo early in 1954 to supplant an earlier organization which had been seriously weakened by personal rivalries and disregard of its directives. Political and personal differences and conflicts between moderate and extremist elements are likely to continue, but the long-term likelihood of increasing French repression and the need for coordinated action in the UN probably will produce greater cooperation among the nationalist movements.
33.
Communist Influence. The Communist parties of Algeria, French Morocco, and Tunisia maintain close liaison with, and are directed and partially financed by the French Communist Party. The Communist aim since 1946 has been the formation of a united front with the nationalists, but to date the small North African Communist parties (about 15,000 members in Algeria and 2,000 in each of the protectorates) have had only limited influence on the nationalist movements. With the exception of a limited temporary alliance in Algeria during 1951–52, the known nationalist leaders have consistently refused to accept any political working relationship, largely because: (a) they realized that such ties would alienate many sympathizers in non-Communist areas; (b) the local Communist parties are known to be subject to control by Frenchmen; and (c) nationalist financial support comes chiefly from the anti-Communist native upper middle class.
34.
There is no reliable evidence so far that the North African Communist parties have organized or joined in terrorist activities. The Communists apparently desire to lead a widely-based nationalist movement rather than “adventurist” factions. They are also probably anxious to avoid arousing antagonism in France by supporting terrorism in North Africa at a time when they are advancing the united front theme emphasizing the benefits of negotiations with the USSR, and the USSR is attempting to separate France from the Western Alliance. There is extensive cooperation between the French Communists and the North African workers resident in France who are affiliated with the extremist faction in Algeria. This cooperation probably results in the conversion of many Algerian workers to Communism, but so far it does not appear to have facilitated closer relations between the nationalists and Communists in Algeria itself.
35.
Direct Soviet activity in North Africa remains limited, and the USSR has never claimed its seat in the Committee of Control at Tangier. However, although Radio Moscow is still giving little attention to North Africa, greater Communist interest in the area is indicated by the recent inauguration of a new quasi-clandestine radio station which transmits in Arabic to North Africa via Budapest. This station has given more attention and support to nationalist movements than has the official Soviet radio.
36.
Economic Problems. Large-scale industrial development in North Africa is limited by the shortage of fuel resources and investment capital, by low native purchasing power, and by the low productivity and lack of skill among workers. The growth of secondary industries has been seriously hampered by high production costs and the competition of foreign products on both local and external markets. Roughly a quarter of the arable land is under relatively efficient European cultivation, but native agriculture generally is less than half as productive as European. The population of North Africa is increasing more rapidly than the indigenous food supply. If the present rate of food production is not substantially increased, French North Africa will be faced with a serious reduction in already low levels of consumption.
37.
The French have substantial investments in North Africa which represent an important source of income for a few French banks and corporations and for the colons. The bulk of private investment in North Africa, whether from France or from local sources, is almost entirely French, and only small amounts of foreign capital other than French are entering the area. Both political and economic pressures for more rapid development are steadily mounting. Therefore, the French have been contributing larger amounts of public investment funds in the post war period. The first French government development plan emphasizing large-scale public works projects is being followed by a project—still in the planning stage—directed toward native agriculture and social improvements. The new program, estimated to cost $1.6 billion, represents almost 10 percent of the public investment program of France and its overseas possessions. The benefits of past programs have largely gone to the colons; the lot of most North Africans has not improved materially during the past six years. The new emphasis of the proposed second French plan probably has come too late to enlist the sympathy and cooperation of the native population, whose discontent stems less from poverty than from the economic and social inequalities between the natives and the colons.
38.
Growing insecurity and the accompanying decline in industrial and commercial activity have resulted in a decline in private investment in Tunisia and Morocco. Public expenditures will have to increase considerably if they are to make up for decreased private investment, and to avert the consequences of growing population pressures. Heightened French interest in developing the African territories as a base for French power probably will stimulate further increased expenditure of public funds. But such an increase will depend on the outcome of forthcoming negotiations between the French and the nationalists and probably would not survive a resumption of extremist actions.
[Page 163]

III. Probable Developments in French North Africa

39.
International Pressures. External support is playing a major and growing part in the development of the nationalist movements in North Africa. The chief source of this support has been the Arab-Asian nations, which not only sympathize with national independence movements, but in the case of the Arab states have ties of cultural, racial, and religious kinship as well. The Arab and Asian states will almost certainly increase even further their efforts to obtain favorable UN action on the Tunisian and Moroccan cases. While the small resources of the Arab states will limit their capabilities for material assistance, they will probably help nationalist exiles, provide increasing financial aid, and assist in smuggling arms. Over the long run, the USSR may apply greater pressure in the area through Bloc action in the UN and clandestine support to nationalist activity. The US has not supported North African nationalism in the UN, but both the nationalists and the Moslem countries will increase their efforts to secure some form of US action which can be construed as support for the nationalists.
40.
It will probably become increasingly difficult, particularly if North African disorders continue, for the UN to withstand Arab-Asian pressures for concrete UN recommendations on the protectorates. France probably will not retreat from its basic position that UN consideration of the Tunisian and Moroccan problems is an unwarranted interference in French domestic affairs. France probably will ignore or reject any UN recommendations relating to the protectorates, though it will attempt to forestall such recommendations through real or ostensible reforms on its own.
41.
French Policy. The proximity of North Africa to France, the large and well-entrenched population of French descent, and the extensive French investments in the area have created a unique relationship between metropole and colonial areas and make retention of these possessions a major objective of France. Moreover, the contraction of the French position in Indochina and the increased violence in Tunisia and Morocco over the past year have focused French attention on the importance of holding North Africa. The “Eurafrique” concept of France’s international power position, according to which the resources of France must be concentrated on strengthening its Europe-Africa power complex as the means of matching a resurgent Germany and of retaining a respected voice in the policies of the Western alliance, has become a fixed element of France’s foreign policy. The collapse of French power in the Far East has increased support for this concept in all French political parties except the Communist. The unique ties between France and North Africa and France’s determination to maintain these ties make extremely difficult any reconciliation [Page 164]between French interests and nationalist desires for complete independence.
42.
At the same time French governments have recognized the necessity for further political reforms in North Africa; French policy for the past two years has been based officially on previous pledges to extend “internal autonomy” gradually to the protectorates. In practice, this policy has combined suppression of nationalist activities with limited reform programs imposed on the protectorates. These reform programs have been particularly unacceptable to the nationalists because they provided for participation of the colons in the newly created Tunisian and Moroccan elective bodies under the principle of “co-sovereignty.” The present French government has shown unusual initiative in attempting to satisfy moderate nationalist aspirations. However, it is unlikely that this policy will be continued indefinitely, and future French governments will probably continue to act belatedly in response to external pressures rather than try to reduce the threat of local nationalism by fore-handed reforms.
43.
French policies will vary in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria because of the differing French ties with these areas and their different stages of political development. The program which Mendes-France has proposed for Tunisia envisages a substantial degree of internal autonomy, and he probably would accept such nationalist proposals as: creation of a single, elected all-Tunisian Assembly; the end of certain direct political controls; and “Tunisification” of the civil service. Such a program arouses intense opposition not only among the colons, but among many of the Independent-Peasants and Radicals and some of the ex-Gaullists in the French Assembly. However, Mendes-France, if he stays in office, is likely to secure a compromise settlement which will attract broad Assembly support and remove the more immediate causes of nationalist violence, while holding out the prospect of further negotiations on nationalist demands. Such a compromise probably will bring about at most a temporary respite from nationalist disorders.
44.
France probably will also propose new reforms for Morocco in the near future, though on a more modest scale. There are indications that Mendes-France intends such action prior to the scheduled autumn session of the UN General Assembly. We believe that the French will first have to remove the present unpopular Sultan because the installation of a Sultan satisfactory to the majority of Moroccans is essential before a program of reforms can be negotiated. However, the need to uphold remaining French prestige probably precludes the return of the former Sultan. The enthronement of one of his sons may be the only feasible alternative, provided that the Moroccan populace is convinced that the ex-Sultan favors such action. Furthermore, some of the discredited reforms imposed on Morocco after the last Sultan’s [Page 165]deposition will have to be repealed or revised. If these conditions are fulfilled, and if the French have demonstrated good will in the Tunisian negotiations, we believe that at least a temporary halt in nationalist violence will also be secured in Morocco.
45.
Over the next few years France will probably grant a degree of internal autonomy, first in Tunisia and later in Morocco. However, we believe that future French governments will insist at a minimum on retaining certain key controls over the protectorates, particularly in the fields of foreign affairs and defense, and to some extent public finance and justice. Control of defense forces would also give the French a legal basis for acting in the field of internal security. In addition, France probably will insist on protecting the legal rights and economic interests of the colons through special agreements. France apparently hopes that in the very long term Tunisia and Morocco could be persuaded to become Associated States in the French Union, or some variant of that status. The French do not contemplate granting autonomy to Algeria, but rather completing the integration of Algeria into the metropole. Finally, whatever the extent of French concessions, France probably will not hesitate to use force to control any further nationalist outbreaks.
46.
Probable Further Growth of Nationalism in Tunisia and Morocco. Despite any short term accommodation between the French and the nationalists in Tunisia and Morocco, we consider it almost certain that nationalist opposition to French control will continue to grow at an increasing rate, although periods of quiescence will occur. As the French allow greater native participation in local administration, both nationalist desires and capabilities for self-government will almost certainly increase. Limited and gradual French reform programs are unlikely to reduce tension more than temporarily or to keep pace with increasing nationalist demands.
47.
Moreover, the very success of their recent terrorist tactics will present a constant temptation to the nationalists to revert to violence in order to gain their objectives. Resort to terrorism is likely to increase if moderate nationalist leaders are unable through negotiations to make progress clearly leading toward ultimate independence for Tunisia and Morocco.
48.
If the French should soon grant independence (which we consider highly unlikely), the nationalists would in return almost certainly accept close military and economic ties with France, although they would not join the French Union as presently constituted. However, unless such settlements were made within the next several years, the nationalists would accept such ties only with great reluctance and would probably repudiate them as soon as feasible. If the deterioration in French and nationalist relations continues, even the nationalist leaders who have been relatively moderate probably will in time refuse [Page 166]to seek complete independence by peaceful and gradual means. They would probably join the extremists in further periodic sabotage and terrorism calculated to attract international attention and put pressure on the French. French countermeasures might temporarily put down aggressive nationalist activity but would probably lead to its eventual resumption in even more violent form.
49.
As the strength of the nationalists increases they will, in the absence of adequate French concessions, almost certainly resort to violence. They will intensify their terrorist guerrilla-type activities, and might eventually organize a large-scale uprising. They would anticipate that a campaign of violence would arouse favorable world opinion and result in political intervention, probably through the UN. However, so long as French military capabilities are not seriously reduced, we believe that the nationalists, because of their insufficient organization and their military weakness, will not be able to oust the French by force.
50.
Probable Growth of Nationalism in Algeria. The growth of organized nationalist activity in Algeria will probably lag behind that in adjacent areas. The objectives of many Algerian nationalists are likely to remain moderate in the next few years, with emphasis on removal of discrimination and on greater Moslem participation in government. However, ties with France are so close that the French almost certainly will not grant any considerable degree of autonomy. French concessions are therefore unlikely to be sufficient to prevent the further growth of the nationalist movement. The conflict between the French and the nationalists in Algeria may in the long run prove most difficult to resolve, particularly if Tunisia and Morocco receive a considerable degree of independence.
51.
Communism and Nationalism. The Communists will probably continue their efforts to exploit nationalist desires for independence by attempting to capture the nationalist movements, but we believe they will be unlikely to succeed. While Communist-nationalist collaboration may increase, particularly if France adopts repressive policies and extremists gain control of nationalist parties, such collaboration on the part of the nationalist groups will probably be undertaken to further their own aims and not because of any basic sympathy for Communism. However, once the main body of nationalists has come to accept the strategy of violent action, the Communist parties—now small, weak, and with little influence—are almost certain to coordinate activities with the nationalists, and may come to be accepted as allies. In that event, Communist sabotage capabilities would be increased and opposition to the presence of Western troops and bases in the area would be strengthened.
52.
Effect on French and US Positions. In the light of the above factors we believe that the outlook remains one of growing instability [Page 167]in North Africa, characterized by sporadic crises and disturbances created by the growing nationalist opposition to French control. While we believe that the nationalists cannot oust the French by force alone, increasing native resistance in Tunisia and Morocco will probably—within the next decade—create a serious drain on French financial and manpower resources and strain the determination of the French to maintain their dominant position. This in turn will impede use of the area as a base by France and by the US. Moreover, the reliability of French North African troops might decrease under the stimulus of nationalism, reducing the value of this major military asset. In the long run France will probably either have to grant independence voluntarily or else resort to increasingly costly military repression. In the latter case the time may come when a combination of nationalist insurrections and external pressures will present France with problems insoluble short of complete withdrawal.
53.
Increasing nationalist resistance to French control in North Africa might constitute a serious threat to the security of US bases in the area, particularly if the nationalist movements should establish a common front with the Communists. As long as nationalist leaders continue to hope for US support they will try to restrain their followers from attacks on the bases. However, some extremists may not obey their leaders, and, as the situation deteriorates, sporadic demonstrations and raids against the bases will become increasingly likely.
54.
If France were involved in war, the nationalists would probably take maximum advantage of the situation. Tunisian and Moroccan nationalists would demand a guarantee of complete independence from France. If they should fail in their demands, they would probably resort to violence and undertake sabotage of North Africa’s highly vulnerable communications, though they would probably stage a general revolt only as a last resort.
55.
International Implications of North African Developments. The growing conflict between the French and the nationalists in North Africa will also have important international repercussions. Differences over North African issues are likely to become a source of increasingly serious friction among the non-Communist countries. We believe that North African development will exert a strong influence on Arab and Asian attitudes toward the West both in the cold war and in event of global conflict. Many Latin American countries are also anti-colonial in outlook and might support the North African nationalists.
56.
Differences between the non-Communist powers as a result of North African developments will come to a focus in the UN. Further Arab-Asian efforts to secure UN intervention on North African questions might lead to a split in the Western-oriented UN majority which could be exploited on this and other issues by the Soviet Bloc.
57.
The efforts of both sides to secure US support confront the US itself with major policy decisions and the prospect of a serious strain on its relations with many nations in the Free World. If the US appeared to favor the North African nationalists, it would probably succeed in deterring nationalist-Communist collaboration and in assuring the physical security of its present North African bases for a longer time. By doing so, however, the US would invite serious complications in its relations with France and in its utilization of these bases. On the other hand, if the US strongly supported its NATO partner, it would almost certainly lose influence among the Near and Far Eastern states, as well as be subjected to interference at the Moroccan bases. Sharp differences between the Arab states and the Western Powers over North Africa would almost certainly lessen the possibility of Arab cooperation with the West in Middle East defense. The US might also prejudice its prospects for subsequent influence in any North African state which might ultimately receive its independence.

IV. Prospects for Libyan Stability and Pro-Western Orientation

58.
Prospects for Internal Stability. Libya, independent since December 1951, has thus far been unable to establish firm foundations for political and economic stability. The poverty and economic underdevelopment of the country, the unresolved Tripolitanian-Cyrenaican differences, the weakness of the parliament and the bureaucracy, and the limited support for the ruling dynasty, all make for an unstable future. Most important of these factors is the continued cleavage between the Cyrenaicans, who presently dominate the federal government, and the more advanced and numerous Tripolitanians, who constitute two-thirds of the population. However, the Tripolitanians have not united to form a strong opposition party, and they are not able to challenge the present regime.
59.
Despite his failure thus far to resolve provincial differences and unite his kingdom, King Idris is the strongest political force in Libya. The incapacity of the Libyan Parliament, the political indifference of the people, and the recent resignation of able Prime-Minister Muntasser have all strengthened the King’s hand. The transformation of the Libyan Government from a constitutional to an absolute monarchy will probably continue over the next few years, provided King Idris remains on the throne. Libyan political loyalties, instead of crystallizing around national groupings and issues, probably will follow the traditional Arab pattern of shifting personal and family alliances.
60.
However, the king is 64 years of age, and his designated successor has neither much political support nor ambition. While accepting Idris, many Tripolitanians and some Cyrenaicans only reluctantly pledged allegiance to his dynasty as well. Unless the king survives long enough to consolidate his power, his death might be followed by a [Page 169]period of intrigues during which the kingdom might be dismembered. Such increased internal instability might impede, but almost certainly would not preclude, use of Libyan bases by the US and the UK.
61.
The Libyan economy relies heavily upon agriculture to maintain present bare subsistence standards, and is extremely limited in other resources. Large-scale exploration for oil is about to be undertaken, but the prospects for extensive discoveries remain unknown. Consequently, Libya has to rely almost wholly upon foreign financial aid and technical assistance in order to carry out even a minimum development program. The UK at present provides over ten million dollars annually to Libya, which also receives some technical aid from the UN and the US.
62.
Probable Trends in Libyan External Relations. Strong Western influence in Libya, based mainly upon direct financial assistance, is likely to persist for at least the next several years. This influence would probably continue in the separate provinces even if Libya should be dismembered during that period. On the other hand, UK influence, though still paramount in Libya, has declined appreciably, and the Libyan Government has discharged a large number of its British advisors. British policy at present is to remain aloof from Libyan domestic politics. Should the UK continue that policy, a partial vacuum in Western political and economic influence might develop. However, as a result of its need to station in Libyan bases some troops formerly in the Suez Zone, the UK might increase its interest in Libyan affairs. A UK–Libyan base agreement has been concluded. At the same time, King Idris has expressed a desire for closer relationship with the US, and has indicated that he would prefer the US to assume the role of chief benefactor and “protector”.
63.
The USSR has not yet attempted to open diplomatic relations with Libya. There are virtually no Communists in Libya.
64.
US–Libyan air base negotiations, virtually completed, but not yet approved by Libya’s parliament, will provide Libya $40 million over the 20 year period of the agreement, with $4 million to be paid for the use of the base each year from 1954 through 1960, and one million dollars annually thereafter. In view of exaggerated Libyan expectations, parliamentary disappointment over the size of the US financial contribution may result in delay of ratification, scheduled for the fall of 1954. However, Libyan Government pressure probably will overcome parliamentary opposition.
65.
Because of strong Libyan resentment over French influence in the province of Fezzan and French repression of the Moroccan and Tunisian nationalist movements, there will probably be increasing difficulties with France in the near future. Many Libyan officials have shown open sympathy and tacit encouragement for the Tunisian terrorists. However, France may succeed in its efforts to obtain a base [Page 170]agreement with Libya, provided its financial contribution is sufficiently attractive to overcome anti-French sentiment.
66.
Libya’s inclusion in the Arab League early in 1953 has not resulted in any fundamental change in its pro-Western orientation. Libya uniformly endorses the Arab League’s pronouncements on Israel and on North African nationalism, but plays only a secondary role in the League and has frequently adopted an independent attitude. Libya has not signed the League’s collective security pact. However, growing Libyan political and cultural ties with Egypt constitute an increasing challenge to the Western position. Nevertheless, Libya will remain fearful of Egypt’s greater power. During the past year, Libya has also developed diplomatic and military connections with Turkey, which may come to overshadow its liaison with the Arab League and Egypt if sufficiently attractive inducements are offered. Further growth of Turkish influence would probably help to strengthen Libya’s pro-Western orientation. In the long run, however, Libya is likely to follow the lead of the other Arab states.
  1. Files of National Intelligence Estimates retained by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
  2. According to a note on the cover sheet, this estimate superseded NIE–69, “Probable Developments in North Africa,” Sept. 12, 1952. NIE–69 is not printed, but see the memorandum for the NSC Senior Staff, Sept. 12, 1952, p. 131.
  3. According to a note on the cover sheet, this estimate was “submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence. The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff. Concurred in by the Intelligence Advisory Committee on 31 August 1954. Concurring were the Special Assistant, Intelligence, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff, G–2, Department of the Army; the Director of Naval Intelligence; the Director of Intelligence, USAF; the Deputy Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff. The Atomic Energy Commission, Representative to the IAC, and the Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.”
  4. The term North Africa, as used in this paper, means French North Africa, Spanish Morocco, Tangier, and Libya. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. See appendix for population figures. [Footnote in the source text. The appendix, entitled “Population of North Africa by Ethnic Groups,” is not printed.]
  6. Includes two infantry divisions now being transferred from France. [Footnote in the source text.]
  7. An Arabic term for bandits and outlaws. [Footnote in the source text.]