Ch. 5. Tunisia


138. Intelligence Note 198 From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes) to Secretary of State Rogers, Washington, March 20, 1969

The report speculated on possible successors to aging Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba. It predicted that the transfer of power was likely to be orderly, however, indecision over the succession procedure and the multitude of candidates vying for the position produced concerns for U.S. interests in the region.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Secret; Noforn; Controlled Dissemination.


139. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, April 3, 1969, 11:30 a.m.

In a meeting with Secretary of State Rogers, the Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Habib Bourguiba, Jr., emphasized the importance of close relations with the United States during the upcoming transfer of power and given the unstable political situation facing one of its closest neighbors, Algeria. Bourguiba then requested greater American military assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL TUN-US. Confidential. Drafted by Root and approved on April 15 in S. The conversation took place in the Secretary 's Office.


140. Telegram 63195 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Tunisia, April 23, 1969, 2313Z.

This joint State and Defense message reported on Bourguiba's talks with Secretary of State Rogers and Secretary of Defense Laird. It instructed the Embassy to respond positively to Bourguiba's hope for dialogue with the new administration, but make clear that no greater American military effort was likely.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967- 69, POL 7 TUN. Secret. Drafted by Root; cleared by ISA/AF, JS, ISA/PPS, and J/PM; and approved by Palmer. In telegram 52187 to Tunis, April 5, the Department reported that in their meetings with President Nixon and other American officials,“President [Bourguiba]and Bourguiba Jr. expressed concern growing Soviet naval presence Mediterranean and continued fear of Soviet-armed Algeria. Tunisia's pro-Western stand had heightened its isolation and vulnerability.” (Ibid., POL 7 TUN) According to Nixon's Daily Diary, on April 1 from 3:23-3:46 p.m., the President met with President Bourguiba and Bourguiba Jr., who were in Washington for the funeral of President EISENHOWER. No memorandum of the conversation was found. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, President's Daily Diary, April 1, 1969-May 31, 1969)


141. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, September 15, 1969, 11 a.m.

In his discussions with Secretary of State Rogers, Foreign Minister Bourguiba Jr. outlined Tunisia's security concerns relating to the September 1 Libyan coup and the perception of American global disengagement.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967- 69, POL TUN-US. Secret. Drafted by Root and approved on September 22 in S. The conversation took place at the Department of State. In telegram 163880 to Tunis, September 26, Rogers followed up with Bourguiba Jr. by expressing Washington's willingness to review Tunisian defense requirements within the context of the current assistance program. (Ibid., POL 7 TUN)


142. Memorandum of Conversation, New York, September 18, 1969, 2:25 p.m.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Bourguiba Jr., President Nixon assured him the United States would do what it reasonably could to help Tunisia meet its military needs, adding that the Administration was prepared to cope with the political difficulties which additional aid, currently under review, was likely to cause.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL TUN-US. Secret. Drafted by Root. The conversation took place at the Waldorf Astoria during the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.


143. Airgram CA-6414 From the Department of State to the Embassies in the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, Italy, and Turkey, December 2, 1969

The Department provided guidance for consultations on Tunisia. It outlined the Department of State's objectives in Tunisia, and offered a political, economic, and military assessment of the country.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967- 69, POL 1 TUN-US. Secret. It was repeated to Tunis, Rabat, Algiers, Tripoli, and USNATO. Drafted on November 21 by Wisner; cleared by INR/NEA, EUR/FBX, EUR/BMI, DOD/ISA, EUR/AIS, NEA/TUR, AID/AFR/NA, EUR/GER, and AF/N; and approved by Newsom. The background material is not printed.


144. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, February 13, 1970

Kissinger summarized Secretary of State Rogers' report of his meetings with Tunisian officials. At this meeting, Prime Minister Ladgham and Foreign Minister Bourguiba, Jr. reiterated their desire for close relations with the United States and voiced concern about the situations in the Middle East and Libya.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Secret. Attached but not printed at Tab A is telegram Secto 39/591 from Addis Ababa, February 12. In the full February 10 memorandum of conversation, Rogers had asserted that “The US is not pro-anybody' but rather pro-peace'” in the Middle East conflict, adding that he had made clear the opposition of the United States to the expansion of Israel in his own December 9 speech. The Tunisian Foreign Minister “remarked that indeed the Secretary's speech of December 9 had opened hopes. It was a shame that President Nixon's speech about additional arms to Israel had looked to so many like backtracking.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, ORG 7 S)


145. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary (Eliot) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, August 24, 1970

Eliot sent an information memorandum prepared in the Bureau of African Affairs, which observed that, under Foreign Minister Masmoudi, Tunisia had reasserted its non-aligned standing and harmonized its foreign policy with that of the Arab and Third World countries.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 1 TUN. Confidential. Cleared by Wisner. In Airgram A-155 from Tunis, August 18, the Embassy noted that the “special relationship” that Washington had enjoyed with Tunis was likely to end with the demise or retirement of Bourguiba. (Ibid., POL 15-1 TUN)


146. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, October 7, 1970

Kissinger agreed with Rogers' suggestion that the President reassure Bourguiba that necessary reductions in U.S. assistance would be minimized in view of American interest in Tunisian development and security.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information. A note on the first page reads, “The President has seen.” The attached September 11 memorandum from Rogers to the President is not published.


147. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), October 29, 1970

For his 4 p.m. meeting with Foreign Minister Masmoudi, Saunders briefed Kissinger on Tunisian views of the Middle East crisis and domestic security and development.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for information. The attached Department of State memorandum is not printed.


148. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 29, 1970

In a meeting with President's Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger, Foreign Minister Masmoudi requested U.S. support in keeping the Soviets out of the Mediterranean and achieving a Middle East settlement.

Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 268, Memoranda of Conversation, Chronological File, October 1970. Confidential. Drafted by Saunders. The meeting took place in Kissinger's office. In telegram 182778 to Tunis, November 6, the Department provided a memorandum of a conversation between Rogers and Masmoudi, October 28, in which the latter expounded on the need for Washington to put pressure on Israel to achieve Middle East peace, and to take account of the Palestinian movement as a political force. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 7 TUN)


149. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, November 12, 1970, 3 p.m.

Source: Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files, Box 24, FRC 73-A-1975, Tunisia 1970, 000.1, Jan---. Secret


150. Telegram 1 From the Embassy in Tunisia to the Department of State, January 1, 1971, 1800Z.

The Embassy transmitted a report by a special team of U.S. doctors which had diagnosed President Bourguiba with “involutional melancholia” and, possibly, arteriosclerosis. It then goes on to discuss Bourguiba's mental state, the possibility for political succession, and potential requests to the U.S. Government for assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 15-1 TUN. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. In telegram 6097 from Rabat, December 26, the Embassy had conveyed the urgent request of Prime Minister Nouira for a U.S. psychiatric team to be dispatched to Tunisia to treat Bourguiba. (Ibid.) In telegram 209981 to Rabat, December 29, the Department advised the Embassy that an American internist and psychiatrist would arrive in Tunis on December 31. (Ibid.)


151. Telegram 9 From the Embassy in Tunisia to the Department of State, January 3, 1971, 0200Z.

In this telegram, the Embassy conveyed Prime Minister Nouira hope that President Bourguiba would be welcomed into the United States, via American transport, for further medical treatment. Nouira also requested any assistance the United States could offer with regards to improving Bourguiba's health.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 15-1 TUN. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. In telegram 261 to Tunis, January 3, the Department, “in view great esteem USG has for Bourguiba and in recognition President's long friendship for US,” offered military evacuation aircraft to carry Bourguiba to Walter Reed Army Hospital. (Ibid.) The physicians at Walter Reed confirmed the President's involutional depression and “mild but definite arterial brain damage.” (Ibid.)


152. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, March 4, 1971

Kissinger briefed the President on the internal political situation in Tunisia and the implications for bilateral relations of the expected departure of President Bourguiba from the political scene.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information. This document is an unsigned copy. Attached but not printed is the January 22 memorandum from Rogers to the President on the “Transfer of Power in Tunisia.”


153. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, April 13, 1971

Saunders forwarded a memorandum from the Departments of State and Defense, notifying Tunisia that the United States would provide an additional $1 million for their $3 million military assistance program for 1971.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 745, Country Files, Africa, Tunisia, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for action. Kissinger approved the recommendation. The attachments are not printed.


154. Airgram A-41 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Tunisia, June 22, 1971

The Department sent copies of a Policy Planning Paper for Tunisia as approved by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Africa. The paper was to be an official statement of U.S. policy toward Tunisia and was to be used as a guideline by all elements of the Embassy in the preparation of policy statements, action plans, and future budgetary projections.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 1 TUN-US. Secret; Noforn; Limdis. Drafted on June 21 by Nancy Rawls (AF/NSC-IG) and approved by Carter.


155. Telegram Secto 7/3076 From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State, October 2, 1971, 2231Z.

The telegram contained a memorandum of conversation between Rogers and Foreign Minister Masmoudi on the subject of the Middle East. Masmoudi outlined his concerns for Tunisia and emphasized the importance of maintaining a close relationship with the United States. Rogers outlined the U.S. position highlighting the importance of an interim peace agreement before the United States would consent to any further assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 7 TUN. Confidential; Exdis. It was repeated Priority to Tunis and to Cairo and Tel Aviv. In telegram 4608, September 11, Calhoun reported Masmoudi's plea for U.S. support in achieving a political solution, which he passed along from Egyptian President Sadat. (Ibid., POL TUN)


156. Intelligence Memorandum 2101/71, Washington, December 8, 1971

Anticipating an end to President Bourguiba's rule, this 18 page report, titled “Tunisia: The Hour of Separation Approaches” analyzed Bourguiba's four decade rule of Tunisia and his philosophy of government, it outlined the most pronounced forces of change emerging within the power structure, and examined probable successors.

Source: Central Intelligence Agency, OPI 16, DI/OCI Files, Job 79-T00831A, Box 8. Secret; Noforn. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency. In requesting preparation of a study of current political dynamics in Tunisia, a March 18 CIA memorandum noted that, “We believe there is need for a critical and unorthodox analysis of the political situation that will re-examine current assumptions to the effect that existing institutions in Tunisia are sufficient to insure an orderly transition to a stable and moderate post-Bourguiba Government.” (Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Files, Job 79-01229A, Box 1, AA-1, AF DIV, 1971)


157. Intelligence Note RAFN-62 Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Washington, December 23, 1971

This 5 page report analyzed the internal and external security threats to Tunisia and concluded that Tunisian claims of a heightened danger from Algeria and Libya were exaggerated.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23 TUN. Secret; Noforn; Controlled Dissemination. Drafted by Hoffman and cleared by Rives.


158. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, February 17, 1972

Ambassador El Goulli thanked Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Newsom for helping to arrange a meeting with President Nixon, and hoped that the evident good will towards Tunisia would produce the requested internal security assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 17 TUN-US. Confidential. Drafted on February 22 by Michael V. Connors (AF/N); cleared by Harry I. Odell (AF/N); and approved by Newsom. According to the President's Daily Diary, Goulli met with the President from 3:05-3:06 on February 14. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Staff Members and Office Files, President's Daily Diary, February 1, 1972-March 31, 1972) The Ambassador delivered a letter from President Bourguiba, not printed, in which Bourguiba expressed appreciation for Nixon's update on his Peking trip and his assurances of continuing U.S. interest in Tunisian development and North African security. Bourguiba concluded by hoping for high-level discussions to review bilateral relations and the international situation. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 15-1 TUN)


159. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, February 29, 1972

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Newsom informed Ambassador El Goulli that the United States would be unable to comply with Tunisia's request for internal security assistance.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 23 TUN. Secret. Drafted on March 3 by Michael Connors and cleared by Newsom.


160. Letter From President Nixon to President Bourguiba, Washington, March 14, 1972

Nixon authorized Ambassador John Calhoun to advise Bourguiba of the outcome of his talks in Peking and Moscow, and pledged as much Tunisian development assistance as resources allowed.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL TUN-US. Unclassified. In a February 24 memorandum to Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Kissinger, Eliot had recommended that the President respond to Bourguiba's hand-delivered letter, in recognition of Bourguiba's status as a long-standing ally and to soften the blow of the U.S. refusal to provide a requested $7.3 million in internal security assistance. (Ibid., POL 15-1 TUN)


161. Telegram 1963 From the Embassy in Tunisia to the Department of State, April 24, 1972, 1015Z.

In this 6 page telegram, Ambassador John Calhoun offered an overview statement on the PADM and PARA review for Tunisia in 1972, praising Tunisia's alignment with the United States and friendly voice in Arab, Mediterranean, and Third World councils.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 1 TUN. Secret.


162. Memorandum of Conversation, New York, October 13, 1972, 5 p.m.

Foreign Minister Masmoudi asked U.S. Ambassador to the UN William Witman why the United States had written off the Palestinians and become totally wedded to the Israelis, leaving Washington's friends in an untenable position.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 7 TUN. Confidential. Drafted on October 17 by Witman. The conversation took place in the UN General Assembly Delegates' Lounge. In telegram 188159 to Tunis, October 16, the Department transmitted a memorandum of conversation between Masmoudi and Rogers in which the two disagreed over U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Ibid.)


163. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, December 11, 1972

Kissinger recommended that Nixon respond to President Bourguiba's recent letter by reassuring him of U.S. interest in Tunisia.

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 762, Presidential Correspondence, President Bourguiba. Confidential. Sent for action. In his October 25 letter, not printed, Bourguiba renewed his request for a bilateral review of U.S.-Tunisian relations and the international scene. In Nixon's December 12 reply, not printed, he agreed that a dialogue on bilateral matters was important, and that, while much could be communicated at the ambassadorial level, he welcomed Bourguiba's views at any time.