37. Operations Coordinating Board Report1


(Period Covered: From March 28, 1957 through November 13, 1957)

A. Summary of Operating Progress in Relation to Major NSC Objectives

1. Summary Evaluation. Although our principal interests are still protected, progress toward policy objectives has been slowed by the deteriorating situation in Algeria, the repercussions of that situation in Morocco and Tunisia, and the continued stresses and strains, especially economic and social, which have followed independence. U.S. policy toward Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria as set forth in NSC 5614/1 has been reviewed from the standpoint of operating considerations and in light of operating experience to date and of anticipated future developments. No review of policy is recommended.

Regarding associating the peoples of this area with the free world, U.S. diplomatic relations with Morocco and Tunisia were consolidated; economic and technical aid agreements were negotiated and programs begun in both countries (approximately $20 million in Morocco and $8.5 million in Tunisia for FY 1957); base negotiations were begun directly with Morocco, with the French being kept generally informed as to the progress of the negotiations. The U.S. agreed to negotiate a new Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with Morocco. The Richards Mission visited both Tunisia and Morocco, and the King of Morocco accepted the President’s invitation to visit the U.S. in November.3

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However, it appears that U.S. relations with Morocco and Tunisia may be entering a critical period in which U.S. friendship and support will be weighed in terms of our position on Algeria, on military assistance, economic aid, and diplomatic support vis-à-vis France.

Relations between France and her ex-Protectorates went by sharp ups and downs; though some issues were resolved between them, the Algerian conflict continued to poison the atmosphere and hold up settlement of many outstanding problems. Franco-Tunisian clashes on the Algerian border led the Tunisians to request help from the U.S. in supplying arms and to consider acquiring arms in Egypt or the Soviet bloc countries. The U.S. took a decision to furnish such arms if other Western sources had failed. In Algeria both sides approached a stalemate, with continuing violence and bloodshed, and an ever-widening gulf between the European and Moslem communities for which no adequate remedy has been worked out in France. The Soviet bloc, while not achieving any major coup, continued to spread its influence, particularly through commercial channels. Egyptian efforts to establish influence continued.

The U.S. position on the Algeria question was increasingly a sensitive point with the countries concerned, and U.S. prestige in North Africa declined from the temporary advantage gained during the Suez crisis. Impact of U.S. assistance was favorable but naturally has not yet had noticeable effect in alleviating serious economic and social problems in Morocco and Tunisia.

B. Major Operating Problems or Difficulties Facing the United States

2. U.S. Bases in Morocco. The dilemma of the bases remains. We have satisfied Moroccan amour-propre by sitting down to negotiate bilaterally. We still have the fundamental problem of liquidating or revising the 1950 Franco-American Agreements and harmonizing the status of our bases with Moroccan independence, without destroying Franco-American confidence and endangering U.S. interests, including base rights, in France. Three other major issues remain to be resolved before we can make real progress in the negotiations begun in May toward concluding a base agreement: (1) the Moroccan need for a “framework”—bilateral or regional—which will justify foreign troops and bases and provide a mechanism for equalizing treatment of French, Spanish and U.S. troops, (2) the nature and levels of our economic aid programs for Morocco, and their sufficiency as a quid pro quo for base rights, (3) the possibility of military assistance for Morocco. The U.S. is currently formulating its position on all these issues. We resumed negotiations in September and hope to make [Page 146] some progress toward at least contingent agreement on texts of a base rights agreement before the larger issues are resolved and before King Mohammed V visits the U.S. in November when these issues will undoubtedly be discussed. Despite emerging problems with jurisdiction and reductions in local labor forces, the bases continue operational.

3. U.S.-Moroccan Treaty Negotiations. The negotiation of a new Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaty to which we have now consented will probably be long and difficult. Moreover, the promulgation of the new Moroccan tariff and the partial devaluation of the Moroccan franc have given rise to new complications with the local American trading community and new conflicts with the economic equality provisions of the Act of Algeciras of 1906, which appears increasingly outmoded. Negotiations of the treaty awaits an indication of readiness from the Moroccans, who have been given standard drafts for study.

4. VOA Relay Base at Tangier. A problem has existed for some time in regularizing the status of present VOA radio facilities in Tangier and proceeding with expansion plans for the installation of high-powered transmitters. Funds for expansion have been available since May 14, 1956. Negotiations on these two matters were suspended pending developments in negotiating a military base rights agreement. This delay has meant that radio facilities, with power substantially in excess of that currently employed, have not been available for getting a stronger signal behind the iron curtain. Talks with Moroccan officials have recently been resumed but prospects for progress are uncertain.

5. Economic Problems. Franco-Tunisian and Franco-Moroccan financial and economic relations during the period were characterized by recurrent crises. In both countries there have been a decline in private investment, flight of capital and severe unemployment. With the lack of adequate budgeting and economic planning in both countries, it is difficult to program U.S. economic aid in ways which will assist in meeting the crises and at the same time contribute to longer-range economic stability and development.

Programming U.S. economic aid is complicated by (1) the pressure to help solve present crises with solutions which are necessarily palliatives and fail to attack the underlying causes, (2) the lack of adequate economic planning and basic statistical data, and (3) the continuing uncertainty of the level of French aid. To some extent, the nature and degree of U.S. detailed control over the administration of aid programs has been an irritant to these newly-independent governments which are on the one hand unfamiliar with U.S. administrative procedure differing markedly from the French and on [Page 147] the other are extremely sensitive to any suspected interference with their internal operations.

Based on present indications, U.S. economic aid programs will continue to be developed and implemented in both countries, with special attention in Morocco to the related problem of the bases.

6. Franco-U.S. Differences. France will probably become increasingly suspicious and resentful of our intentions toward the area, as aid programs get under way and U.S. influence increases. Our remedies here are largely the colorless ones of restraint and tact. We plan, however, to pursue our present policy of exchanging information on our programs and plans with the French, encouraging continued French assistance and influence to North Africa with as few strings as possible. We should continue to urge the French to supply military assistance to Morocco and Tunisia in order that these countries’ security requirements may be satisfied by French sources and thereby obviate their looking to the U.S. for military equipment. While direct U.S. assistance of this nature to Morocco or Tunisia may prove necessary to preserve the western orientation of these countries, the French may be expected to react sharply and adversely.

7. Algeria. At the present juncture it can be expected that hostilities in Algeria will continue. Despite the fact that the French military have had considerable success in suppressing the rebellion in certain areas, there is no evidence to date that the military potential of the rebel movement has been seriously affected. Moreover, French parliamentary and public opinion is not yet prepared to accept a formula which clearly contemplates the evolution of an Algerian state. Until a solution emerges we can expect no stability in the area, a progressive dissatisfaction with the U.S. and the West, and uncertainty at best in our military and economic relations with Morocco and Tunisia. Because any open U.S. intervention in the issue would probably be counterproductive in stiffening French attitudes, as well as seriously undermining U.S.-French relations, we are presently confining ourselves to discreet pressures on the French at suitable opportunities and to encouraging Moroccan and Tunisian efforts to bring the Algerian leaders to a more conciliatory point of view. The Algerian problem and our attitude on it remain the critical issue in U.S.-French relations and are an increasingly sensitive point in our relations with Morocco and Tunisia, because of the inevitable repercussions on area stability and on our position and interests in the two independent countries. In fact, the Algerian conflict has serious effects on the entire Western position in North Africa.

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Note: National Intelligence Estimates regarding this area are:4

NIE 71.3–57, The Outlook for Tunisia, June 18, 1957.
NIE 71.1–57, The Outlook for Morocco, January 29, 1957.
NIE 22–57, The Outlook for France, August 13, 1957.


  • Annex A—Additional Major Developments Not Covered in the Report.
  • Annex B—Sino-Soviet Bloc Trade Relations with Morocco and Tunisia.

Financial Annex and Pipeline Analysis.

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Horn of Africa. Secret. Enclosure to a memorandum signed by Roy M. Melbourne for Elmer B. Staats. The Progress Report was noted by the NSC on November 22. (NSC Action No. 1819; ibid., S/SNSC Files: Lot 66 D 95, NSC Records of Action) The same OCB meeting on November 13, which forwarded this report to the NSC, also approved an Operations Plan for transmission to the Embassies in Tunis, Rabat, and Paris, and the Consulate General in Algiers. (Ibid., OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430)
  2. Supra.
  3. See Documents 213 and 250251. The King arrived November 25.
  4. NIE 71.1-57 is Document 206. The other two NIEs are not printed.
  5. None printed.