76. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State0

2386. From Williams. Lengthy review of Algerian situation with Porter indicates that while generally unstable political and economic conditions likely persist for some time, bright spots are appearing, particularly in the political orientation of the government. This probably means that while Algerians likely to remain attached to socialist concepts it does seem that they are now deciding that these ideas must be adjusted to the realities of their economic position. They have learned that the world is not what they thought it to be during years of imprisonment and isolation from Western thought and principle.

At moment, Algerian Government seems be engaged in serious effort define financial, cultural and administrative arrangements with [Page 112] French.1 Recognizing that such course undoubtedly unpopular with highly vocal groups such as communists, they are taking action against such groups to minimize criticism and consolidate government position internally. This undoubtedly hampers bloc efforts to take advantage of current confusion to plant apparatus in country.

Algerian Government attitude toward United States immediately after Ben Bella visit Cuba was mixture of resentment and bewilderment. This was followed by appreciation of fact that population as whole was very disinterested in Cuba and Castro, and unable comprehend government interest in that situation with so many problems at home. Fact that first question addressed to government in foreign affairs debate indicated concern at possible damage to American-Algerian relations had its own special import, and evoked further conciliatory declarations from government and Ben Bella himself. Porter believes this trend will continue for time being at least, and longer it does more difficult it will be to reverse. Certainly, Algerians will be extremely careful about getting caught in gears of international politics again.

In general, I would say that US posture appears well adapted to present situation. We should continue our food shipments to assist Algerians get through hard winter ahead, support for medical program and further student grants. As picture of French-Algerian relations becomes clear, we can examine sympathetically how best to develop supplementary role which will probably be required. We are not past all shoals in Algeria by any means as Algerian-French relationships mentioned are now in process evolution. If reasonable success crowns current efforts in latter sense, we can assume Algerian sentiment, which at its best is strongly nationalist, will prove to be substantial barrier to communist designs. With regard to effect of Algerians on Africa we may expect that they will be so preoccupied with their own problems for foreseeable future that their influence and effort, beneficial or otherwise, will be rather limited. I am assured Embassy Algiers will remain alert to any need to adapt our posture and programs to new developments in this still highly fluid situation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/12-662. Confidential. Repeated to Algiers.
  2. Telegram 2387 from Paris, December 6, reported that the Algerians had asked France for 360 billion old francs in aid but had been assured of only a fraction of that amount, probably 60 billion old francs to carry them to the end of the year. The implication had been that further funds would be forthcoming after the French saw how the new Algerian Government carried out certain commitments with respect to French properties in Algeria, especially those of the 600 French farmers still on their land. (Ibid., 651.51S/12-662)