34. Operations Coordinating Board Report1
PROGRESS REPORT ON UNITED STATES POLICY IN NORTH AFRICA (TUNISIA, MOROCCO AND ALGERIA) (NSC 5436/1)2
(Policy Approved by the President October 16, 1954)
(Period Covered: June 1, 1955 through April 4, 1956)
A. Listing of Major Developments During the Period
In Morocco, after months of serious disorders and violence the Moroccans are well on their way to self-government. Mohammed ben Youssef was returned to the throne on November 16, 1955; a new Moroccan government, including representatives of the leading political groups, was installed in Rabat on December 7, 1955. On March 2 France recognized the independence of Morocco and both [Page 121] countries announced the opening of negotiations to define a new relationship to replace the Protectorate. Throughout this critical and sensitive period, the U.S. encouraged France to offer more self government to the Moroccans, urged the Moroccans to act with moderation, and discussed with Spanish and Arab representatives the desirability of Franco-Moroccan rapprochement. The U.S. sent congratulations to the Sultan on November 18 and to the Moroccan and French governments on March 7.3 These elicited cordial replies from the Sultan, in contrast to the more reserved answers he gave to Soviet congratulations in March. As a result of steps taken by the nationalists and the Sultan, military operations have been almost entirely suspended in the Rif, and terrorism has abated in the cities. There are signs, however, that Moroccan nationalists’ interest in the Algerian cause continues.
On January 26, 1956, State announced publicly that the U.S. intended to relinquish its extra-territorial rights in Morocco, and to request appropriate Congressional action to this end. The announcement was well received by the Moroccans, but some opposition seems to be developing in Congress. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding hearings on this matter on April 17.
- In the UNGA , the U.S. voted for a resolution postponing further consideration of the Moroccan problem as a result of the rapprochement between the French and Moroccan governments. The Tunisian question was dropped from the UNGA agenda because of the signing of the Franco-Tunisian accords in August, 1955. The Algerian question was inscribed in the UN Agenda whereupon the French delegation quit the Assembly. The U.S. subsequently strongly supported a move to delete the Algerian item which was successfully carried.
As to Tunisia, despite the Franco-Tunisian Conventions ratified on August 4, 1955 granting substantial external autonomy to Tunisia, the situation subsequently deteriorated because of Morocco’s more rapid progress toward independence, the Algerian struggle, a deepening economic crisis, and an open rift between pro-Western moderate nationalists and pan-Arab extremists. On February 27 new Franco-Tunisian negotiations began, and on March 20 a new agreement recognized the independence of Tunisia. As in the case of Morocco, this agreement will be followed by further negotiations leading to the establishment of a new relationship to replace that of the Protectorate. The Tunisian election of March 25 for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution, resulted in an overwhelming victory for the moderate nationalists led by Bourguiba.[Page 122]
On March 9, the Consulate General and U.S. Information Agency offices in Tunis were raided by a mob of local Frenchmen and seriously damaged. The French government has presented apologies and offered to pay for any damage.
- In Algeria, the situation deteriorated steadily during the reporting period. Disorders and violence have been increasing, with the danger of reaching widespread proportions. In his investiture speech Mollet proposed: (1) restoration of order; (2) free elections; and (3) negotiation of new Algerian status with Algerian representatives so elected. Mollet subsequently issued a warning to the Algerian rebels to lay down arms or face repression. There has been, however, no abatement of rebel activity and Parliament has now given Mollet full powers to deal with the situation. The French government accordingly decided to increase its military countermeasures to include the redeployment to Algeria of two additional divisions from its NATO commitment in Germany. This decision was given general sanction by the NAC on March 27. In addition France has again requested U.S. assistance in obtaining priority delivery on helicopters they have on order here. We have partially met this request by agreeing to give up priorities on 14 machines, while the larger request for 84 is now under review by the Paris Embassy and US CINCEUR, together with the French.
In an attempt to counter mounting anti-American sentiment in France as a result of French suspicions regarding our policy towards North Africa, Ambassador Dillon gave a speech in Paris on March 204 assuring U.S. support for French “liberal and equitable” solutions in North Africa. This was well received in France.
- U.S. Force level increases for the Moroccan bases continued to be negotiated with the Foreign Office. The U.S. has requested an increase of 2,225 Air Force personnel to cover needs until July 1, 1957, on the basis that this proposal represents immediate pressing requirements within the overall U.S. request presented February, 1955 for an increase of 6,900 (Air Force: 7,400 to 12,206; Navy: 3,500 to 5,000).
- An increase in US. Forces rotational levels has been obtained to the extent of a maximum of 30 F–100 fighter interceptor aircraft; these aircraft are in addition to the 2 U.S. squadrons stationed in Morocco for air defense, and the 2 Strategic Air Command Wings periodically rotated to the Moroccan bases for training purposes.
- Negotiations on Moroccan Status of Forces and Tax Relief Agreements have been suspended by mutual agreement pending the outcome of the French-Moroccan negotiations.
- Additional base and transit rights for Tunisia and Algeria which were requested in July, 1954 have not been pressed for in view of the unsettled conditions in the two areas at this time. However, France is pressing in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for allied approval of infrastructure projects in both areas.
- Base and supporting facilities construction is proceeding satisfactorily. Four air bases and the Naval Air facilities at Lyautey are operational, and the supporting facilities (POL storage and pipeline, water installations, communications, etc.) are nearing completion. In September, 1955, French and U.S. military representatives reached a compromise agreement as to the gradual phase out of the Atlas Construction Co. in accordance with prior agreements.
- The French and U.S. Air Forces have agreed to the incorporation of French personnel in the aircraft control and warning systems (AC&W) and for joint operation of the Moroccan Air Defense Control Center (ADCC).
- At no time during the critical periods of violence have the bases in Morocco been molested.
- In Morocco, the projects outlined in the basic materials loan of $7.5 million made to France in June, 1953, have been completed. These include improvement of the Port of Nemours (Algeria)—$1.43 million; a hydroelectric development and construction of a high tension transmission system—$4.5 million; and modernization of the railroad system—$1.86 million. Sultan ben Youssef and the nationalists have made it clear that an independent Morocco will expect economic and technical assistance. At present, the economic situation is developing unfavorably in Morocco.
- In Tunisia as agreed in October 1954, the technical assistance ($250,000) and development assistance ($1.6 million) programs for the French project of agricultural development of the Mejerdah Valley are progressing satisfactorily. The economic situation of Tunisia continues to deteriorate.
Because of unsettled conditions in the area and the sensitivities of the French authorities regarding U.S. views on colonialism, the U.S. Information Service has concentrated chiefly on cultural activities, and avoided any actions which might be misconstrued adversely by the French or the nationalists. The U.S. Information Service has maintained contact with influential persons in both factions, and through a modest press program it has kept the French and Arab newspapers supplied with official U.S. statements and unofficial [Page 124] commentaries. The Exchange of Persons Program has thus far remained extremely limited pending clarification and improvement of relations between Tunisia and Morocco on the one hand, and France on the other.
B. Summary Statement of Operating Progress in Relation to Major NSC Objectives 5
Validity of the Basic Policy.
- French recognition of Moroccan and Tunisian independence in principle, and the continuing separate negotiations between France and representatives of these two countries toward agreement as to their future relationships with France (“interdependence”), indicate the necessity for a policy review. It is recommended that a review of the policy be initiated in the immediate future so that with the completion of the negotiations referred to above, consideration and formulation of a new basic policy for this area can be accomplished in the minimum amount of time. Specifically, it is considered that the substance of the objectives, outlined in paragraphs 10 through 14, and the courses of action set forth in paragraphs 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 19–c (in part), 19–d and 19–e, 20 and 23 would continue to be valid for any revised policy paper;6 however, it is noted that a policy review might take into account amplification of these paragraphs in view of new, and yet to be determined, relationships between France on the one hand and Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria on the other.
- The following basic factors are suggested as background
for the study-review:
- Politically, all of French North Africa has undergone an extremely accelerated and fundamental change during the last eight months. The Arab nationalists have, in effect, won or are winning a greater degree of independence from France. A new and still undetermined relationship between France and these three Arab areas is in the making, necessitating a re-alignment and re-evaluation of the respective political importance of three major elements: the French Government, the Arab nationalists and the local French population. Correspondingly, the U.S. policy and courses of action vis-à-vis the Arabs and the French will require continuing, changing and carefully planned methods of tactical application, lest the U.S. position in relation to any group be seriously weakened. The fundamental dilemma of supporting the aspirations of Arab nationalism, even in their moderate forms, without increasing French suspicions of our motives, is still unresolved.
- French North Africa is still strategically important to, and an integral part of, the NATO security area.
- The opportunity for communist exploitation exists and the danger has considerably increased as the prospect of Soviet diplomatic relations with Morocco and Tunisia draws nearer.
- The possibility of a pan-Arab, anti-Western movement, especially in Tunisia and Algeria, exists and should be planned for carefully.
- Militarily, irrespective of the U.S. base complex in Spain and the current value of the guided missile, the U.S. bases in North Africa continue to have an undiminished value.
- Mounting anti-Americanism in France resulting from our attitude toward North Africa has to be taken into account.
- Base Rights and Related Agreements. U.S. rights in North Africa have been maintained. It may be possible to obtain in the near future an augmentation of the personnel ceilings in Morocco, our most pressing requirement. The resolution of other matters, such as the SOF and Tax Relief Agreements, must await the outcome of the French-Moroccan negotiations. While France is still unwilling to allow the U.S. peacetime rights for facilities in Algeria and Tunisia, it is probably to our best interest not to push this objective in view of the unsettled conditions in both areas and the current evolution of the political relations between France and the two countries. As to the Moroccan bases, their future status, as well as pending agreements may become an issue with the Moroccan government. That government may ultimately demand that the base agreements be renegotiated with them and that SOF and tax relief be concluded directly with them. Should it develop that the Moroccans have primary authority over these matters, the U.S. could take the position that the existing base agreements are valid and should be honored or revalidated by the Moroccan government. As the price for Moroccan cooperation, however, some kind of negotiation with the Moroccans on the base agreements will probably be necessary. In this connection, the U.S. may be faced with a request for substantial economic assistance.
Moroccan Political and Economic Progress.
- With the installation of the new government on December 7, 1955 and the joint Franco-Moroccan declaration of March 2, 1956, a new phase of the relationship between the French and the nationalists has been reached. While to this extent the U.S. interest in progress toward more self-government for the Moroccans has been served, a critical period lies ahead. The Franco-Moroccan negotiations under way in Paris have as a principal objective the determination of the new “interdependent” relationship between the two countries to replace the relationships embodied in the Treaty of Fez. The crucial points will probably be the future role and responsibilities [Page 126] of France in Morocco’s defense and foreign affairs; the fixing of adequate guarantees for the rights of French residents in the area; the establishment of economic ties between France and Morocco. Unless the current negotiations arrive at formulae which give concrete expression to Moroccan independence, it is reasonable to expect a rupture in present good relations and a renewal of widespread violence and disorder. It appears now that France is prepared to grant Morocco a very considerable degree of independence, even extending to the assumption by the Moroccans of greater control over foreign affairs and to the creation of an independent Moroccan army, while providing for an alliance coordinating Morocco’s foreign policy with that of France and leaving the strategic defense of Morocco to the French. On these issues, it is to be expected both sides will endeavor to involve the U.S. On the general questions, the U.S. could restrict itself to urging discreetly moderation and compromise on both sides with the underlying purpose of endeavoring to strengthen the position of the moderate elements on both sides and particularly the moderate pro-Western elements in Morocco under the leadership of the Sultan.
- With the completion of the economic aid programs for Morocco there have been no new requests from France for additional help. Although M. Mollet had indicated that France cannot ultimately carry the whole burden of economic development in North Africa, the French government has asked us not to hold out prospects of aid to the Moroccans during current negotiations. France is wary of U.S. assistance for the area; it fears the implication that France is unable to provide for the basic needs of Morocco. Considering the current negotiations, it may be that Morocco will not consent to preferential economic ties with France, or conversely, it may be that Morocco will continue to maintain the traditional pattern of economic relations with France. The United States prefers to see France and Morocco continue in a close economic relationship and to supplement French economic assistance rather than to supplant it. The possibility cannot be disregarded, however, that as French power declines in Morocco she may not have sufficient inducement to continue or expand public and private investment to take care of Morocco’s growing needs, or prevent Morocco from exploiting the possibilities of USSR assistance. Moreover, the Moroccans have indicated clearly that they consider economic assistance as the natural counterpart of U.S. base rights. As a result, a unilateral U.S. review of Morocco’s economic position and requirements is now under way in order that the U.S. may be in a position, if forced to discuss assistance as a quid pro quo for base rights, of doing so on the basis of economic requirements.
Political and Economic Progress in Tunisia.
- Despite recognition of Tunisian independence on March 2, 1956 many serious problems remain to be solved, and the Tunisian Government is faced with serious constitutional questions, the danger of contagion from the Algerian struggle, an overt split in the nationalist movement between extremists and moderates, and a growing economic crisis. Where appropriate and feasible the U.S. should, in accordance with NSC policy, encourage French concessions to the moderate pro-Western elements in Tunisia. Since the U.S. has no treaty rights in Tunisia, as it does in Morocco, pursuance of U.S. objectives is more difficult. As Tunisia achieves a greater measure of self government, it may be possible to push harder for military bases and operating rights in the area, after consideration of the political situation as it evolves in that country.
- Economically, as in Morocco, the French have shown no specific interest in any additional U.S. assistance. While the present U.S. technical and developmental assistance projects for the agricultural development of the Mejerdah Valley are progressing satisfactorily, the Tunisians are experiencing a deteriorating economic situation of considerable gravity. There is a danger of famine conditions this year, and, because of overpopulation in relation to land, of a continued inability of the Tunisians to feed themselves over a period of years. Ambassador Dillon and the U.S. Consul General in Tunis have recommended that the U.S. should be prepared to furnish economic assistance, in cooperation with France. As in the case of Morocco, a unilateral and confidential study of this question has been initiated.
The Algerian Situation
- While Algeria is not included within the U.S. courses of action, U.S. assistance, during this reporting period, toward Franco-Algerian rapprochement was negligible and indirect, though the U.S. did oppose inscription of the Algerian item on the UNGA agenda when taken on September 30, 1955, and did support on November 25, 1955, a successful motion to remove that item from the agenda.
- U.S. interest in the area centers on its importance to NATO security, and the possibility of anti-Western and/or a communist exploitation. While it is too early to know how French policy will evolve on this question, it does not seem likely that the Algerians will respond to Mollet’s demand that they lay down their arms unless such demands are accompanied by more concrete offers of self government. Though the present government at least appears to recognize the inadequacy of integration as a solution, no satisfactory alternative has been worked out and the situation continues to deteriorate with Algerian demands increasing. It may be possible for the U.S. to give discreet encouragement and support, where possible, [Page 128] to French efforts to work out a political rather than a military solution and one which would be arrived at bilaterally. The U.S. cannot, however, disregard French nationalist feelings which focus more sharply on Algeria than on the two protectorates. Ambassador Dillon’s speech of March 20, our partial assistance to date on the French request for priority delivery of helicopters, and our sympathetic attitude in NAC on the question of redeployment of French troops to Algeria were designed to take this situation into account. Such actions will, however, adversely affect our relations with the Arab states.
C. Major Problems or Areas of Difficulty
- The problem of encouraging France to grant greater self government for Morocco and Tunisia continues in an even more sensitive and delicate way. Direct or overt intervention or entanglement could seriously affect our relations with France, NATO solidarity and our relations with the Arab-Asian world.
- Though U.S. actions in relation to the Algerian problem are limited to broad objectives and are not specified in courses of action, the U.S. could give discreet encouragement and support where possible to the French in their efforts to meet the Algerian demands for greater autonomy. U.S. interest centers not only on possible bases in the area, but is concerned particularly with internal security in a NATO sector and the possibility of anti-Western and/or communist exploitation (see below).
- The danger of communist penetration will increase as North Africa moves toward independence, particularly if independence is won by force and through extremist tactics. The unsettled conditions and the political and military vacuum which is being created by the diminution of French control and the emergence of new and shaky Arab states, present an excellent opportunity for exploitation by the USSR, particularly when it becomes possible for the USSR to open direct diplomatic relations. The U.S. will have to determine how, in concert if possible with France, to deal with this vacuum.
- In the North African nationalist movements there is a fundamental cleavage—potential in Morocco, overt in Tunisia and Algeria—between pan-Arab extremist elements who look toward Cairo and the pro-Western moderates who favor negotiated solutions, with continued French and Western influence as their objective. U.S. policy could consider encouraging the latter in every way possible and sharpening French awareness of the need to supply such men as Bourguiba and Mohammed V with concessions that permit them to retain their following.
- The problem of formally relinquishing extra-territorial rights in Morocco, after announcement on January 26 of our intent to do so, is being pursued. A joint resolution, which would empower the President to carry out this policy, has been presented by the Department of State to appropriate Congressional Committees. However, a group of approximately 40 businessmen in Morocco have adopted a resolution which insists that their position not be inferior to that of any other foreign national in Morocco, and that U.S. extra-territorial rights should only be renounced after full sovereignty for Morocco is achieved and a new bilateral negotiated between the U.S. and Morocco. The RCA and Mackay radio companies have taken a similar position with respect to extra-territorial rights in Tangier where they maintain installations nominally commercial but of some importance to U.S. defense needs. The use of extra-territorial rights as a bargaining piece, however, does not appear desirable or possible.
- No further progress can be made on expanding the base rights, SOF and tax agreements until Morocco’s new international status is defined. As soon as the French-Moroccan negotiations are completed, the U.S. must decide whether or not to conclude the U.S. agreements either with the French, the Moroccans, or both, depending on where the responsibility for foreign affairs and defense lies.
- The U.S. must continue to endeavor to obtain immediate troop ceiling increase (without prejudice to our long standing proposal for a larger increase); additionally, the U.S. must consider urging the Moroccans to accept previous agreements as valid should Morocco succeed in gaining control of foreign affairs and defense matters as a result of the negotiations.
- While the U.S. Armed Services still require additional rights in Tunisia and Algeria, it seems advisable in view of the unsettled conditions in both areas at this time, to await a more opportune political climate. At the same time the U.S. has the problem of encouraging the Moroccans to recognize the U.S. base agreements should they achieve full or shared control of foreign affairs with the French.
- The problem of securing the return of large numbers of French troops and their equipment, largely MDAP financed, to the European theater is aggravated by the sending of additional French troops to Algeria.
The economic requirements of Tunisia and Morocco may turn out to be substantial at this time of heavily increasing requirements elsewhere. State and ICA plan to proceed urgently on a strictly unilateral and confidential basis, to analyze the requirements of these two countries in the light of possible continuing French [Page 130] contributions. This would enable early determination of the general order of magnitude and types of program that might be required. Thus before any negotiations are started, either with the French or Tunisia or Morocco, a decision could be made by the United States whether in the light of existing funds and other requirements, the United States is able or willing to start what will certainly be continuing programs in order of magnitude required.
Cultural Contacts—Information Program
Because of unsettled conditions in French North Africa, the scope and nature of this U.S. program presents a continuing problem. Until final settlements are achieved and relations between the U.S. and the French, and the U.S. and the Arab nationalists clarified, limited opportunities exist, in other than cultural and educational fields, to provide open and positive support of U.S. policy in the area. While plans are being prepared for some expansion in FY 1957, their implementation is contingent on political developments and close coordination with local chiefs of missions. Both the Tunisians and the Moroccans have indicated their desire for increased exchange of persons, and it is hoped the program may be expanded in 1957. Expansion in Algeria is premature at this time.
Financial Annex to the Progress Report covering period 6/1/55 through 4/4/56.7
- Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Horn of Africa. Secret. Enclosure to a memorandum from OCB Executive Assistant Charles E. Johnson of May 3. The OCB concurred in the report with the stipulation that it be updated to reflect developments since March 21 and that paragraph 5 be rewritten to clarify the language. At its April 26 meeting, the NSC noted the report and directed the NSC Planning Board to review the policy specified in NSC 5436/1 to take into account the new relations between France and Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, and NSC Action No. 1543; Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 66 D 95)↩
- See footnote 3, Document 25.↩
- For text of the March 7 note to the Sultan of Morocco, see Document 187.↩
- Transmitted in telegram 4325, March 20. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.51/3–2056)↩
- Latest NIE (71–55) on French North Africa is dated 11/29/55. [Footnote in the source text. This National Intelligence Estimate is not printed.]↩
- For text of these paragraphs, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xi, Part 1, pp. 173 ff.↩
- Not printed.↩