107. Telegram 3286 From the Embassy in Algeria to the Department of State1

3286. Department pls pass info Immediate to CINCEUR. Subject: Spanish Sahara: Final Algerian Démarche.

1. Summary: Boumediene has delivered what sounds very much like an ultimatum for Security Council to get Moroccans out of Sahara. Makes no explicit threats but implies Algerians will take military action if something is not done. End summary

2. Ambassadors of states who are permanent members of Security Council were summoned to Presidency this afternoon to see Boumediene and be given oral démarche which seems to have followed consistent pattern for all of us. I was last to go, at 6 p.m.

3. Boumediene was courteous but grave and said he had question he was posing to permanent members of Security Council and that was what they were going to do to implement Council’s decision taken this morning calling on Hassan to stop Green March. Hassan’s people had crossed frontier. They had prayed. They had gathered earth to take home. Now the party was over. It was time for Hassan to take his people home, otherwise situation in area was going to deteriorate rapidly.

4. He said, quote I want you to ask the doctor where he is. Where is Doctor Kissinger? Nothing you can say to me will convince me the United States cannot stop this affair immediately. All you have to do is send a message to Hassan saying stop and he will stop unquote.

5. Boumediene said Algerians did not want armed struggle but could not accept fait accompli which would upset stability of area. Failure to stop Hassan now and send him home would mean getting off a conflagration in which everybody’s interests would be affected. He was making particular appeal to United States because he felt we were the greatest of the powers and had the most influence on Hassan. [Page 292] British did not count for much. As for French, he knew very well what their role had been. They had put much pressure on Spain to give in to Morocco. He did not expect much from them. He had also heard, and it was possible that his information was incorrect, that certain circles in the United States at the beginning of the affair had also put similar pressure on the Spanish. I expressed surprise at this and he said he did not mean the Secretary or the President. He meant quote other people unquote. (I do not know what he is talking about.)

6. He then said quote ask the Moroccans how many men they have lost. There have been armed clashes between them and the rebels (sic) and there have been prisoners taken and officers killed. Ask them how many. They deny that anything has happened and are trying to cover up but we know that these incidents took place. This is the last time I will talk to you about the Sahara. I am not going to repeat what I said in our recent conversations but you know our position. We want an answer from you that is clear and unequivocal. We have discussed how to find a way out of the impasse for Hassan and this is the last chance to do so. He must turn his people around and send them home. Unquote

7. I said that I had impression that Moroccans were keeping to restricted area between Spanish defense lines and northern border. I also had the impression that Hassan would in a few days tell everybody to go home. Boumediene asked if I really thought Hassan was going to take the people out of the Sahara and go home in two or three days. I said I had no hard information but only an impression. Boumediene said he did not want impressions he wanted facts.

8. I said that we had urged restraint on Hassan last week and noted that we had supported the Security Council resolution. Unfortunately, Hassan’s head was in the clouds and he was not listening. Boumediene said he knew what our position had been so far and he appreciated it, but it was now time for US and the other permanent members of the Security Council to do something concrete. Otherwise Council would prove that it was ineffective and the same sort of incidents would be occurring all over the region as people took the law into their own hands. He assured me again that this was the last time he was going to talk about this problem and terminated the meeting.

9. Comment: While Boumediene made no explicit threats, what he said sounded very much like a quiet ultimatum. Have compared notes with the French Ambassador and we both have impression from Boumediene’s remarks that if there is no action soon to get Hassan out of the Sahara the Algerians are going to involve selves directly, i.e., militarily, in the affair. I note various SRF reports indicating that Algerians have stationed substantial forces in border areas and are in position to move against Morocco. I have no doubt now that they will do so if [Page 293] Hassan does not recall his people. I think there is still time for the situation to be saved, but not a great deal.

10. It is difficult of course to deal with simplistic Algerian approach. Boumediene is unwilling to listen to any explanations we may want to give him about our inability to control Hassan. I hope however that we can somehow convince Hassan that the Algerians mean business and that he had better get his people out of the Sahara quickly unless he really wants a military confrontation with Algeria.

  1. Summary: The Embassy informed the Department of a meeting with Boumediene, who demanded the UN Security Council expel Moroccans from the Spanish Sahara. He warned that failure to do so would result in a “conflagration.” Boumediene implied that Kissinger could send a message to King Hassan and halt the march.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 1, Algeria, Department of State Telegrams, ToSecState—EXDIS. Secret; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to the Mission to the UN, Madrid, Rabat, London, Moscow, Nouakchott, and Paris. The telegram is incorrectly dated 1973. In telegram 264177 to Algiers, November 7, the Department instructed the Embassy to inform Boumediene that Kissinger had received his message, that King Hassan had been informed of the U.S. position on the Spanish Sahara, and that there was little the U.S. could do to influence King Hassan on this matter. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)