central intelligence agency
THE CURRENT SITUATION IN FRENCH NORTH AFRICA
HISTORICAL REVIEWELEASE IN FULL
rbii docwat ku
CURRENfeflTTIMfION IN FRENCH NORTH AFRICA
Importance or French Nohtu Africa.
French North Africa is Important to the security of the US. Its geographical position, because of. the increased potential of modern air warfare, now liesogical expansion of the zones of minimum security previously maintained by this country. In hostile hands, its air and naval bases could possibly neutralize potential US Atlantic bases in the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. Such hostile possession could, moreover. Interdict the Atlantic approaches to the Mediterranean and sever the most direct line of access to tho petroleum of the Near East.
In friendly hands French North Africa could afford corresponding advantages to the USaluable base lor the launching of air attacks, naval operations, orlandings against Europe or the Near East. Its utilization by the USriendly power would also maintain the previous value of US bases in the Atlantic islands. The climate of the area Is such that aerial operations can be conducted the year round.
As long as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia remain under French control and as long as France maintains its independence and remains friendly to the US, US security is enhanced both defensively and offensively. France's present domestic politicalthe drain caused by her colonial wars in Indochina and Madagascar, and the rising demand of Nationalists among the native populations of North Africa, are all dangers which threaten the status quo in this vital area and which could lead to eventual Soviet control.
Of long-range strategic importance are two economic factors: Morocco. Algeria, and Tunisia are relatively rich in mineral deposits (particularly phosphates and ironnd they possess an agricultural potential sufficient to assist eventually in alleviating critical food shortages of Western Europe.
While there Is no Immediate dangeruccessful revolt ln French North Africa. Increasing nationalist Intransigence and continuing French failure to institute aprogram ol reforms may turn what Isolitical problemituation dangerous to peace and to the security of lhe US.
In Tunisia and Morocco, nationalist leaders have generally concentrated on the restoration of national sovereignty under the reigning dynasty. In Algeria, thehas been on equal status for Moslems and Frenchmen. Since the establishment of the Maghreb" Bureau at Cairo, however, the nationalist movements of the three territories haveegree of coordination hitherto lacking, and almost all groups arc now demanding complete independence. The UDMA (Democratic Union of
* Collective Arab name for Morocco. Algeria, and Tunisia.his report has th* concurrence of the intelligenceof the Departments of the Army. Navy, and Airtatement of dissent by the Department ofet forth aa Enclosure
ihc Algerian Manifesto) at ill favors Inclusion of Algeria within the French Union. These aspirations are receiving encouragement and moral support from the Arab League and.ertain extent, from the Soviet Government through thc instrumentality of local Communist Portles in Morocco. Tunisia, and Algeria. At present thein French North Africa have little political weight. Currently the Communists in French North Africa are demanding only autonomy within the French Union. Their future tactics in North Africa, however, will depend upon the internal political situation in France, the position of the French Communist Party, and, ultimately, upon orders fromossible unified Nationalist-Communist independence movement, therefore, must not be overlooked in spite of the antagonism existing at presentCommunists and Nationalists.
France's vote In the UNGA in favor of partition In Palestine will increase the North African Arabs' bitterness toward France and will give impetus to the demands for independence, but it is not expected alone to cause either revolts or revolution. General unrest through thc Arab world, anti-American demonstrations, Isolated and localmurder of Jews, and looting of Jewish shops are likely to be reflected in North Africa by similar unrest, butesser degree.
In spite of the desire of responsible native leaders to refrain from violence, at least until the "problem" of French North Africa has been considered by theingle outbreak accompanied by severe repressive measures could resultidespread rebellion that both the nationalist leaders and the French Government would find difficult to control.
3. Political Situation.
The political situation In French North Africa Is complicated by thc fact that Algeria has been incorporated lnlo Metropolitan France while Morocco and Tunisia are protectorates, each possessing Its own native government. The French directly control the economic and political life of Algeria, where the European landownersf the population and where no nativeey position In the government. In the twoEuropeans comprise- of the population and where France is obligated by treaty to protect the nativeFrench have superimposed iheir own administrative systems which assure them absolute, if indirect, control. Until very recently the French have pursued, with scantolicy of assimilating the natives into French culture, at the same time recognizing the right of North Africans to retain their native institutions.
French political control of the area Is potentially threatened by native nationalist movements in thc Ihrec territories. Although these movements (which are supported by the Arab League and, when convenient, by thc Communists) are not new, they have gained momentum since the end of the war through the world-wide growth of nationalist sentiment on the part of dependent peoples, Communist propaganda and agitation, French lass of military power and prestige, bad economic conditions in North Africa, and the reappearance of influential Moslem leaders identified with Arab nationalism.
Conscious of their own weakness, the French have attempted to meet thethreat to their empire by announcing that the Frenchrojected
overseas federation, lias replaced the concept of the French Empire. In this Union, Algeriaart of the French Republic, while Tunisia and Morocco are considered "associatedccording to the new Constitution, any one of these has the right to modify its status either ln the direction of assimilation to France orooser federalism, subject to the approval of the French National Assembly. The French Union, however, has appeared to the nativesloak for more colonialism.
Meanwhile, the UN, the Arab League (which considers North Africa as part of the Arabnd the US seem to the Nationalists to ofler better opportunities forin gaining independence than continued negotiations with France Whereas before the war, nationalist leaders had agitated unsuccessfully for equal civic rights and social reforms, they now denounce as snares or stalling all French reform proposals, and publicly proclaim that they will be satisfied with nothing less than independence. The UDMA, however, is an exception, favoring inclusion of Algeria within the French Union. In Cairo, center of the Pan-Arab movement, the Maghreb Bureau furnishes French North African nativeeeting place at which to coordinate their moves. Close liaison is maintained with the Arab League, which has Indicated that it will turn its attention to the Maghreb8
Tho small Communist Parties of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia have thus far been unsuccessful ln their appeals to the Nationalists to join themnihed Independence front. The native leaders and most of Northegard the Communists as another group of Infidels opposed to Islam. Of equal importance, the Communists' independence program at present includes "association within the Frenchhould the Nationalists, nevertheless, succeed in achieving independence, the small, well-organized, and apparently well-financed Communist Parties, during the unsettled conditions that would follow freedom from France, might gain control of tho areas' nationalist movements, paving the way for eventualcontrol of the whole region. Such control could be most easily obtained in Algeria where no native economic, social, or political structure exists andapidly multiplying landless proletariat has developed and is faced with an Increasingly desperate economic situation. In spite of the widespread allegiance to the Sultan in Morocco, the Nationalist Party, whose strength is largely in the towns, could probably not prevent the Communists from making serious inroads among the politically naive populace and eventually gaining control of the government. In Tunisia,reater degree of political sophisticationreater sense of national unity exist, the Nationalists could probably successfully contain the Communists.
The French Government would appear at present to be making an effort to prepare Tunisia and Moroccoonsiderable degree of autonomy and hastatute for Algeria which accords further civic rights to Moslem Algerians. The reforms, however, appear to the native leaders In all cases to be designed to preserve the status quo while paying lip service to their aspirations. Their lack ol faith in French sincerityeform program is Increased by the failure of the French to establish afor the Implementation of these reforms. In some cases the reforms tend to extend French control to domains formerly reserved for natives. Although for reasons of "face" and prestige the French prefer not to negotiate directly with nationalist groups, which are technically outlawed. Informal conversations take place. MoslcrrL
elements formerly friendly to France are now reluctant to come forward In view of the growing strength of the Nationalists
The economy of French North Africa Is chiefly thatrimary producer exporting raw and semiprocessed materials to Fiance and importing in return the bulk of its manufactured goods. Although the wartime economic dislocation of the area has now been largely overcome (cereal and mineral production is almost at prewar levels) the economic situation remains unsatisfactory because of an over-all population increasewo bad crop years since VE-day, and France's inability to provide sufficient consumer goods.
Essentially an agricultural area. North Africa, nevertheless, possesses many of the natural resources necessary for industrialization, Including considerable potential hydroelectric power which the French have been unable fully to develop Coal deposits exist and some petroleum has been discovered. The coal, however, is of poor quality, and the limited petroleum resources thus far discovered have not been extensively exploited, soack of sufficient fuel and power is the chief natural obstacle to industrialization. French policy, which in general continues to envisage the economic role of North Africaupplier of raw materialsurchaser of French consumer and capital goods, has contributed greatly to the shortage of fuel supplies and skilled labor, and it will probably continue to delay any industrialization. However, according to thc Monnet Plan, there is some provision for limited industrialization in French North Africa, based on the processing of locally produced raw materials.
Outright US assistance to the North African economy, such as food allocation and dollar credits. Is handled by France through secondary allocations from grants to France and the French Union.
While both Tunisia and Morocco could conceivably manage to exist economically Independent of France in thc foreseeable future, the economy of Algeria has been so geared to that of France that chaos and famine would probably result if the French were to withdraw. Almost the entire production of food crops (including the winehich provides Algeria its major means of payment In international trade. Is in the hands of European Algerians. In Morocco and Tunisia, while public utilities and virtually all large-scale private business enterprises are French monopolies,native economic life has been fostered rather than hindered, and French penetration is highly localized and concentrated. In Algeria, on thc other hand, native agriculture and other means of livelihood, never very productive, have been dislocated; and thc sharply increased native population cannot obtain its food or derive Its living from its own lands.
Although the finances of the protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia, and of Algeria are not managed dirccUy from Paris. In thc last analysis they are under French control, so that problems of budget, International trade, dollar credits, and the seemingly uncontrollable inflation are almost the same as those of the mother country.
The French have been gradually Increasing their troop strength in North Africa despite the drain on their effectives resulting from the current campaigns in Indochina
and Madagascar, Inilitary strength in thc area, Including Navy and Air Force, was estimateden The total ground force strength is, of0 are in0 in Algeria,0 in Tunisia. These, however, Include garrison troops and trainees whose effectiveness would be limited by currently inadequate transportation facilities. In case of serious trouble, they could be supplemented from0 troops at present in the French zone of Germany. Such drafts would depend, of course, on thc internal situation in France, as there arcrench operational troops in all Europe and North
The French couldocal not or revolt but would have difficulty inidespread rebellion.eries of sporadic uprisings would seriously endanger the French position because France has no Army general reserve to deal with new colonial troubles.
The Intelligence Organization of the Department of State dissent* fromt believes that the cumulative effect of that paper Is:
(ii) to present the French and the nationalists as hopelessly deadlocked with regard to the future political development of North Africa, and to suggest that the deadlock can only be broken by nationalist rebellion followed by French repression. While OIR admits thisossibility and that it would have serious consequences for the US, OIR's evaluation of the present situation indicates that thereistinct possibility that the French and the nationalists will reach peaceably an agreement on the political evolution of the area;
(b> to overemphasize the possibility that Communist strength and influence will increase.evelopment is possible, but no more probable than an opposite trend. The Communists in North Africa have made no appreciable gams during the past year in the formationnited political front with the nationalists, and their general position has been weakened by the recent isolation of and set-back to the Communists in France;
(c) to overstrcss the possibility that the Communists would gain control of North Africa in the event that the nationalists succeed In "achievingf this transition were Achieved peacefully, the likelihood of the Communists' seizing control Is slight. If independence were won through revolution, it is lust as likely that the nationalists would contain the Communists (who are almost entirely European) as that the Communists would assume control of the new regimes.Original document.