100. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2


  • Message from King Hassan to You

Ambassador Tasca, who is in Rome en route to his new post in Athens, has been asked by King Hassan’s most intimate confidant, to transmit a personal message from the King to you. Tasca, you will recall, served last in Morocco and was warmly regarded by King Hassan.

King Hassan wants you to know that he is deeply concerned with the dangers to the Maghreb states stemming from the new radical military regime in Libya. He feels that Nasser’s subversive capabilities have been greatly improved by access to Libyan financial resources. According to the King, the young and inexperienced leader of the Libyan military regime is only a “straw man” for Nasser who has inserted Egyptian troops into Libya to protect against the possibility of a “counter revolution.” King Hassan fears that Nasser’s next step will be to eliminate President Boumedienne of Algeria in favor of someone more willing to accept his leadership in the Arab world. The elimination of Boumedienne, according to the King, would greatly increase the subversive potential of both Nasser and the Soviets in Tunisia and Morocco.

The King would like the U.S. to use whatever appropriate influence is available to prevent Nasser’s and Soviet plans in the Maghreb countries from succeeding. He feels that unless we take a positive interest in this matter, there is a real danger that the entire littoral of the southern Mediterranean, from the UAR to Morocco, is likely to fall to Communist domination.

King Hassan has been understandably nervous since the Libyan coup. Nasser’s growing influence in Libya has contributed further to his agitation, even though there is no immediate organized threat to his throne. The lining up of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria against Nasser’s demands at the recent Arab summit—and Hassan’s moderating influence there—have probably also contributed to his fear that Morocco may be close to the top of Nasser’s list for reprisal.

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Another interesting point in Ambassador Tasca’s report is King Hassan’s impression during the Arab summit that Nasser would like to conclude an agreement with Israel but fears overthrow if he did. Hassan feels that the Palestinians—not Nasser—are the key to a settlement now.

All of this indicates the need for a systematic review of the North African situation. I shall provide you shortly with a recommendation on how to do so.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 740, Country Files, Africa, Morocco, Vol. I. Secret; Limdis. Sent for information. Tab B, telegram 21 from Tasca in Rome, January 4, is not published. In a covering letter to Kissinger, January 5, Saunders observed that Hassan’s “analysis is overstated and simplistic but reflects an understandable nervousness about the future of his throne since the Libyan coup. Thus far we have tended to look at the North African situation on a pragmatic country and crisis basis. I think the time has come now, however, for a systematic review of the entire situation. I will be sending you a suggested NSSM to give us a grip on the problem.” (See the North Africa Regional section for more on the resultant NSSM 87, “Trends and Options in North Africa,” January 22, 1970)
  2. Kissinger notified Nixon of a recent message from King Hassan, urging that Washington exercise influence in the Maghreb to offset the danger posed by the new radical regime in Libya.