36. National Security Council Report1

NSC 5614/1



  • A. NSC 5436/12
  • B. Progress Report, dated April 4, 1956 by OCB on NSC 5436/13
  • C. Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated September 26, 19564
  • D. NSC Actions Nos. 1543 and 16105
  • E. NSC 56146

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):

[Here follows text of NSC Action No. 1610–c and d; see footnote 12, supra .]

The President has this date approved the statement of policy in NSC 5614 as amended and adopted by the Council and enclosed herewith as NSC 5614/1; directs its implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government; and designates the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency.7

The enclosed statement of policy, as adopted and approved, supersedes NSC 5436/1.

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A Financial Appendix and Staff Study8 are also enclosed herewith for information.

James S. Lay, Jr



General Considerations

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 and Tunisia.

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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 population.

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 reached.

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.

Policy Conclusions

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.

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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 therefor.

23. Support the admission of Morocco and Tunisia to the UN and to its associated organizations.

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.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5614 Series. Secret.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 25.
  3. Document 34.
  4. See footnotes 5 and 12, supra .
  5. See footnote 1, Document 34, and footnote 11, supra .
  6. See footnote 2, supra .
  7. A paper entitled “Operational Guidance With Respect to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria in Implementation of NSC 5614/1,” dated February 27, 1957, approved by the Operations Coordinating Board on February 20, is in Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Horn of Africa.
  8. Neither printed.
  9. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.
  10. In a letter to Hoover of November 19, Dillon indicated that he considered NSC 5614/1 to be an excellent paper which presented the problem thoroughly and objectively. However, he thought there was too little mention of the problem of Communist infiltration in Algeria. On Hoover’s behalf, C. Burke Elbrick replied on November 29 that Dillon was right in bringing up the matter and requested any documentation he might possess regarding Communist penetration of the FLN. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5614 Memoranda)