NOTE BY THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY TO THE NATIONAL SECURITY
COUNCIL ON TUNISIA, MOROCCO, ALGERIA
The National Security Council, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Special
Assistant to the President for Disarmament, and the Director, Bureau of
the Budget, at the 298th Council meeting on September 27, 1956, adopted
the statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5614, subject to the amendments thereto
which are set forth in NSC Action No.
1610–b and in addition thereto (NSC
Action No. 1610–c and d):
The enclosed statement of policy, as adopted and approved, supersedes
STATEMENT OF POLICY ON TUNISIA, MOROCCO, ALGERIA
1. Developments in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria have a significant
relation to U.S. security:
- The area is strategically important, particularly because
of the U.S. bases located there.
- Expansion of Soviet or Egyptian influence in the area
adversely affects U.S. interests.
- The Algerian rebellion is a divisive factor in the
non-Communist world, especially as between the Arab and
anti-colonial countries on the one hand and the colonial
powers on the other.
- Events in Tunisia and Morocco, and particularly in
Algeria, could provoke a most serious internal crisis in
France, with unpredictable results on the future of French
democracy and on France’s alignment with NATO.
- Developments in this region will have a bearing on
colonial issues arising elsewhere in Africa, and will be
regarded as a test of U.S. intentions and capabilities with
respect to other dependent peoples.
2. The United States is directly involved in Morocco because of its
military base rights, which were negotiated with France without
Moroccan consent or official knowledge. The new sovereign Moroccan
state is now determined to negotiate these base rights with the
United States. In addition, the United States is involved in the
Algerian problem inasmuch as the coastal region of Algeria is within
the NATO area.
3. Tunisia and Morocco have recently achieved independence.
Unfortunately, the far-reaching French concessions to the
nationalists have been granted grudgingly, leaving a residue of
suspicion and dislike of France which has been exacerbated by the
Algerian development. A number of issues remain to be resolved
between France and these new states. The French are unlikely, given
their view of how best to defend their interests, to settle such
issues in a manner that will gain political goodwill from Morocco
4. Economically both Morocco and Tunisia remain heavily dependent
upon France and the French settlers. About 60 percent of their trade
is with France, under preferential tariff or quota arrangements. The
European settlers have controlled most of the business activity and,
with French investors, have provided the bulk of private investment.
Furthermore, French Government contributions to public investment
and ordinary budget deficits have been substantial in recent years.
The area is deficient in the administrative and technical skills
needed for efficient government and sound economic development. Both
Morocco and Tunisia are less developed areas with low standards of
living. Tunisia experiences chronic unemployment and frequent food
shortages of near-famine proportions. Both countries look to the
United States for aid in their economic development.
5. For its part, France hopes to maintain presence in Morocco and Tunisia. It wishes to protect
French investments and the rights and well-being of the European
residents. Perhaps more importantly, it wishes to continue a
political and military relationship which the French consider very
important to the security of the French Union and to France’s
influence in the world. It also is deeply concerned to prevent
Morocco and Tunisia from aiding the Algerian rebels.
6. In Algeria the French have been trying since 1954 to put down a
nationalist rebellion. About 400,000 French troops are engaged in
the pacification effort. The number of guerrillas is probably
between 20,000 and 30,000, but this number is greatly supplemented
by part-time guerrillas and by many people willing to commit acts of
individual terrorism against French troops or the European
7. The militant nationalist movement in Algeria has now expanded both
in size and strength to the point where it can claim without serious
contradiction to speak for the Moslems of Algeria, even though only
a small number take an active part in the fighting. Morocco and
Tunisia are safe havens for Algerian partisans and are sources of
arms and other support. Arms also come in from and through Egypt and
Libya. The Arab states back the Algerian nationalist cause and the
nationalist political leaders operate from Cairo. The anti-colonial
bloc of Arab and Asian states looks on Algeria as a major colonial
issue and will continue to press for a UN finding against France so long as no settlement is
8. The French government’s announced policy is pacification
accompanied by economic and social reform, to be followed by
elections and negotiations. In 1956 the gross public cost of Algeria
to France will be more than one billion dollars, of which the
extraordinary cost of the emergency may amount to about $850
million. The French Communist party opposes the government’s policy
while [Page 141] other parties
support it with more or less enthusiasm, but none support French
withdrawal from Algeria at this time.
9. The problem of a political settlement in Algeria is complicated by
the presence of 1,200,000 Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians, and Jews.
They have had predominant political power and they operate the
modern sector of the economy and own the best land. They are
unwilling to share power with the Moslem majority, much less to
allow majority self-determination. Any political and economic
concessions to the nationalists will have to be imposed on the
colons by French authority. Algeria is legally an integral part of
France, so that concessions to native demands are politically more
difficult to grant than was the case in Morocco and Tunisia.
10. It is unlikely that French opinion will support for long the
costly military campaign in Algeria; consequently France will
probably attempt to negotiate with the native leaders in the
realization that major concessions are necessary. At a minimum, such
concessions would include the grant of effective majority
representation to the Moslem population in an all-Algerian
legislature. Such a grant might be preceded by local disorders and
if successfully carried out would probably be followed by a
substantial emigration of Europeans. In any case, such a grant would
not prevent a continuing drive for full Algerian independence.
11. Meanwhile, the Algerian dispute has adverse effects on our
interests in Morocco and Tunisia, in France, and in the free world
generally. The political leaders in Morocco and Tunisia naturally
respond to pressures at home to support the Algerian rebels; this is
a potential source of major friction with France and may contribute
toward pushing Morocco and Tunisia into close association with
Egypt. We are considered by the Moroccans and Tunisians, as well as
by other Arab and Asian peoples, to be the chief outside support for
French policy; it is widely believed that our influence could be
decisive in changing French policy if we were willing to exercise
it. The Soviet Union has taken the role of supporter of the
oppressed Algerian “colonial” people and its local agents are busy
in France and Algeria trying to gain a dominant voice in the
Algerian nationalist movement. The Algerian rebellion drains French
military forces from NATO and
preoccupies French political energies without being a long-range
unifying force in a country that badly needs greater unity. Partly
on the basis of developments in Indochina, a number of political
leaders and segments of French public opinion fear that not only is
the United States failing to support its NATO ally wholeheartedly in its present difficulties,
but that the United States actually intends eventually to supplant
French influence in North Africa. In any event, the French will tend
increasingly to blame the United States for any failures in North
Africa. The development of a [Page 142] more closely knit Western European community, in which France can
seek reasonable security and prosperity, would contribute much to
minimizing these strains in our alliance with France and to France’s
own adjustment to its status as a declining imperial power.
12. Prolongation of the Algerian dispute adversely affects U.S.
interests in North Africa as well as broader U.S. national
interests. Therefore, it is in the U.S. interest that a settlement
of this dispute be effected as soon as possible. However, France as
the power directly concerned must itself find a settlement, if one
is to be found. For this reason and in view of our extremely limited
capabilities for effecting a peaceful solution of the problems of
this area, we should, in so far as possible, keep our public
involvement in the dispute to a minimum.
13. A close and amicable relationship between France and Morocco and
Tunisia would, if attainable, be in the U.S. interest. The French
have not yet, however, devised policies which appear to enhance such
a prospect. The United States should assist France to the maximum
extent possible to adjust its position to the contraction of the
French Empire, but our own interests in North Africa, and the
importance of a Western orientation for Morocco and Tunisia, may
compel us to develop increasingly bilateral policies in this area.
Moroccan and Tunisian nationalism could usefully serve U.S.
interests as a counterweight to Egyptian ambitions both in North and
in Tropical Africa.
14. To gain Moroccan support for the maintenance of full U.S. access
to the Moroccan military bases as long as such access is judged
necessary or helpful to our security.
15. To associate the peoples of this area with the free world.
16. To stop the spread of Egyptian as well as Soviet and Communist
influence in the North African area.10
17. To encourage progress toward stable government and economic
well-being in the new states of North Africa.
18. To cooperate with France in its adjustment, politically and
psychologically, to the rapid loss of its external territories.
19. To keep within bounds the damage to our standing with the Asian
and Arab [nations] caused by the French-Algerian dispute.
Courses of Action
Morocco and Tunisia
20. Be prepared to offer Morocco and Tunisia reasonable economic and
technical aid when required by our direct interest in their
political stability, bearing in mind the importance of keeping the
French informed with a view to obtaining their cooperation.
21. Seek to maintain France as the source of military equipment and
training assistance for Moroccan and Tunisian armed forces to the
extent feasible without impairing U.S. relations with Morocco and
Tunisia. If this fails consider providing U.S. military aid to
Morocco and Tunisia only if this becomes necessary to retain the
U.S. position in Morocco or Tunisia.
22. Maintain U.S. base rights in Morocco by all feasible means, being
prepared, if necessary, to offer reasonable quid pro quos
23. Support the admission of Morocco and Tunisia to the UN and to its associated
24. Expand cultural exchanges with Morocco and Tunisia; and modestly
expand information activities in both countries.
25. Seek to have Moroccan and Tunisian influence exerted to moderate
the demands of the Algerian nationalists, whenever this would appear
likely to facilitate a settlement of the Algerian dispute.
26. Be prepared to take any feasible actions that would hasten a
settlement of the Algerian conflict, but attempt to keep our public
involvement to a minimum.
27. Make clear to France our hope that France can maintain an
influence in North Africa and our desire to help France to do so. At
the same time encourage the French to find a workable settlement of
the Algerian dispute. Encourage France to actions in Morocco and
Tunisia that are likely to win political goodwill for the West.
28. Be prepared, subject to satisfactory evidence of French
willingness to promote what we consider a reasonable policy in North
Africa (a) to discuss with France our policies and actions in North
Africa, and (b) to develop forms of cooperation in our [Page 144] respective programs which will
strengthen the Western position in the area.