5. Report Prepared by the Policy Planning Council0
NORTH AFRICA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN LITTORAL
This report was prepared in response to the Basic National Security Policy Planning Task No. III (I), “North Africa in the Mediterranean Littoral”. The task as defined in the initial terms of reference was: [Page 8]
“To recommend U.S. policies and courses of action which would tend to bring the states of the North African littoral into constructive association with each other, with Southern Europe, and the Atlantic Community while minimizing ties to nations of the Communist bloc and with Cairo, to the extent that the latter are likely to prove disruptive.”
This paper is a revised version of the original draft which was discussed at the Secretary’s Policy Planning Meeting on July 30, 1963.1 This version takes into account the discussion and views expressed by various officers in the Department of State and outside.
The principal conclusion of the paper is that while certain trends, now in progress, point to a growth of some degree of regional unity, they are balanced by other trends which point in exactly the opposite direction. The result of the study indicates, therefore, that significant movement toward unity in Northwest Africa is unlikely irrespective of US or other attempts to foster or delay this process. Similarly, the challenge of the common market will be felt by the different countries in different ways and will probably not be a significant spur to unification. Activities of the Soviet Union, likewise, will be differently felt in the three countries of Northwest Africa. The governments of the three are in actual or potential conflict on territorial and ideological issues, and their leaders are rivals.
Thus, while some degree of regional integration would be beneficial, particularly in areas of economic planning and modernization, and while an important legacy of the French period is an East to West communications infrastructure, significant cooperation is judged to be unlikely.
It is suggested that the present paper be considered as completing the Policy Planning task until such time as significant developments within North Africa make useful a revision.
[Here follow Sections I-VI of the paper.]
VII. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations
Although there are acknowledged advantages to the United States in a closer form of association among the countries of the North African Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya), there appears to be little current basis on which to anticipate such a development. Further, there would appear to be little basis for U.S. policy to promote actively any formal association in the political, military or economic realms, [Page 9] although discreet help toward closer cooperation may be possible in the economic field. U.S. policy must continue to address itself to the individual national entities of the North African littoral, taking full account of the heightened consciousness of national identity which has characterized North African nations since they achieved independence. This does not mean that the U.S. should view the possibilities of association or union negatively. As a matter of policy, we should remain open-minded and alert for opportunities to further Maghreb cooperation and Maghreb ties with Western Europe. U.S. and Western aid programs are particularly important in the latter case.
In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia lip service is paid to the notion of eventual Maghreb unity, but currently and for the foreseeable future, nothing more concrete is likely to be attempted. The possibility of Maghrebian incorporation into a larger Arab union seems even more distant though a loose confederative link between Algeria and the UAR cannot be ruled out. The underlying political differences and frictions, the incompatibility of the royalist and republican regimes, the fact that there is no economic basis for unity (they produce in a parallel rather than complementary pattern) and the fact that each is intensely national in aspect, all militate against organized economic, political or military agreements leading toward unity in any sector. This is not to indicate that advantages would not accrue should a form of unity develop. Advantages of customs union, specialization of industry (one steel mill complex for several nations instead of competing mills), and the resultant economy in labor forces, finance and materials are obvious. But it is difficult to see any basis to hope for it today or to estimate foreseeable times when it could develop into actuality.
In the same less than optimistic view, no political or military or economic pact can be presently anticipated between the North African countries and the countries of Southern Europe other than those which now exist. All of the North African countries are now eager for increased economic assistance from their former colonial lords. France seems prepared to play a major role in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, while Italy appears ready to broaden its relations with Libya. But to cement the relationships with a political pact would clash with the Arab-African ideals of independence and non-alignment.
North African abhorrence of formal political or military pacts with the West does not foreordain deterioration of the Western position in the area. On the contrary, the events of recent months give the West cause for tempered optimism: Maghrebian communist parties have been proscribed; the area’s historical and cultural ties with the West have been an important underlying counterforce to Bloc bids in the area; and the intense pride in independence manifested by newly independent Maghrebian countries has been a barrier to Bloc efforts to gain influence. The [Page 10] area nevertheless remains vulnerable to Bloc subversion. All of the countries, but particularly Algeria with its enormous economic problems, offer opportunities to the Bloc. If North Africa does not seem at the moment to be exposed to a major Bloc drive for power (on the order of Soviet efforts in the Middle East in the mid-50’s), it is, assuredly, because of its economic weakness and political uncertainties, a continuing target of opportunity for the Bloc.
Apart from aspects of cooperation in the official realms, cooperation within the Maghreb and between the Maghreb and Europe takes place in a number of unofficial and quasi-official fields: labor, education, the professions, and commerce. To the extent these can be encouraged they represent an effective aid to the ultimate objective of closer ties.
The U.S. diplomatic establishment must be alert to any change in the present political, military, or economic scenes in North Africa which would augment North African ties per se or ties with the West, or on the other hand a lessening of Western influence. U.S. objectives are to preserve the North African ties which presently exist with the West, to try to strengthen them when and where they need strengthening and to rebuild them where they have been damaged; to utilize our influence wherever feasible to provide a strong economic base for this cooperation through strengthened North African-EEC ties; to present the image of the U.S.A. as responsively enthusiastic toward helping the new independent nations so that the alternative of turning toward the Soviet Bloc will become less and less attractive. All of this is consistent with the creation of a formal Maghreb association and tangentially should promote it.