20. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy 0

Morocco-Algeria. We’re going to do all we can to warn off Nasser,1 calm down BB and Hassan, and get a cease-fire before this affair escalates. But once again we find ourselves in the middle [2 lines of source text not declassified]. I’ve already heard working level worry from State that Castro’s and Nasser’s potential involvement is tending to convert State’s seventh floor to a pro-Moroccan stance which would ill-serve our long-term interests.

To avoid getting in this box we’re trying to get the fighting stopped. We’re (1) pressing U Thant to issue a cease-fire appeal, but he’s reluctant so long as Haile Selassie and other Africans are in the act; (2) warning Algerians that if they get substantial outside help at a time when we’ve been holding off Moroccans, it may force our hand; (3) conveying same [Page 26] point to UAR, adding that an apparent UAR power play westward at a time when UAR being criticized here on Yemen may critically affect US/UAR relations; (4) trying to get Paris in the act—it has same problem we do of being interested in both sides; (4) urging Rabat to move toward cease-fire in a hurry, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Apparently Hassan and BB agreed to meet with Selassie at Tripoli, but one report says Hassan insists Bourguiba be present.

There’s not much we can do about Cuban or UAR arms. Castro may be sending help without even asking Algerians. In any case, we’re in a spot about protesting UAR (or even Cuban) response to BB’s arms appeal, when we and French are continuing regular arms shipments to Morocco (we have 31 jeep trailers landing now and 22 75-mm recoilless rifles, 143 jeeps, 100,000 rounds carbine ammo and 7000 rounds grenades and other artillery ammo due within the next two weeks). Ouch!

Bob Komer
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Morocco, 10/63. Secret.
  2. Telegram 1740 to Cairo, October 25, instructed Ambassador John S. Badeau to immediately request an appointment with Nasser and stress the serious consequences of large-scale military involvement on Algeria’s side. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 32-1 ALG-MOR)