Created: 4/11/1967

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Strategic and Political Interests in the Western Indian Ocean







SUBJECT: Strategic and Folitieal Interests in the Western Indian Ocean %J

A. Introduction

1. slanda of the vestera Indian Ocean,?/ though veil removed from ths main arena* of contention among the great powers, are gradually bb sural ng acme importance for tha US. In part thiB la bacauee apace tracking and monitoring inetallotloaB there are important to tha forthcoming Apollo program. In addition, the islanda offer possible aubatitute

nla memorandum vaa produced solely by CIA. It vasby the Office of Rational Estimates and coordinated vith the Office of Current Intelligence and the Office of Research and Reports in the Directorate of Intelligence.

S/ See map attached




for OB Installations In Africa whose tenure le Increasingly uncertain. There ore also strategic consideration* vfclch may lead to construction of new OB nil! tary or logistic bsaea on OC-ovnad lslaoda.

enerally speaking, the area la faat becoming somethingow



Malagasy Republic In support of ths space progrsna. Madagascar la useful In connection vith apace Launches frca Cape Kennedy and Vandenberg Air Force Base. The recently re-equipped JCASA satellite tracking station near Tananarive Is the largest such facility outside of the OS. There is also underat thisSA? tracking stationand radar apparatus, 8tailor to one nov ln operation in South Africa. During the forthcoming Apollo lunar landing program the DEAF Intends to use airfields on Madagascar and Mauritius for search and raaoue and for airborne Instrumentation The DSAT alsoatellite tracking station onland in the Seychelles, which Is supplied by small air aad naval unite based on Mombasa, Kenya.



7. France. Prone* retains Reunion Island as an Overaeaa Department, tho Comoro Islands aa sn Cverseaii Territory, and itrivileged position in the independent Malagasy Republic. Bie military forces which Prance maintalno ln


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MBaagBscax, Reunion ana the Comoro Islands giveresence in the Indian Ocean. Tananarive and Waco Suarez are,the headquarters of French Overseee Defense Zone number Three (the Indian Cceonnd the flag Officer of the small Ireaeb Indian Oceanrench forces on Madagascar indirectly support tho Malagasy government, and conduct Joint maneuvers vith the largely French-officered Halagaay army. De Otuile vas irked by President Tslranana's vlUlngnefle to grant use of Mojungo to tho UK, and now seeke to reinforce Franco's poverful influence there by theas SEbassadorough, hlghly-regordsd Africanvith an Intelligence background.

8. Th* Concuniet Rrvegs. Keither Moscow nor Peking has as yet evidenced an important inter est in the western Iildlan Ocean area. Bowerer, the Soviets ore building political end military Influence In Somalia, and they may consideruitable location, politically as veil as technically,acility to track and eenmunicate vith satellite* and space vehicles. Fekingodest preoence in Somalia, exerts scate Influence in mainland Tanzania, and enjoysstanding in Zanzibar and Pesba (there are about

hinese technicians and military instructors on these Islands). The Chinese may find that the moat satisfactory test range for ICBM's will be into the Indian Ocean and they may soon become interested In establishing some sort of Instrumentation facility In that area. Plausible sites would Include ths French-owned Kerguelen Islands In the far southern reaches of tho Indian Ocean, or the tiny French-owned Amsterdam, St. Paul, and Crozet They might, however, choose to employ ships for this purpose. In thi* case, the availability of faculties in Zanzibar or Dar eo SBlaeio would be of key Importance. As yet, however, there ia no evidence to suggest that they have requested such facilities in the islands or in East Africa.

0. Ibe View frca the Islands

islanders are preoccupied vith their ownend are only occasionally aware of changingoutside powers. But their internal problems ere likely

to affect, and be affected by, tha presence of tho outsiders.

In terms of Western Interests,currently by far the moat Important of the ielnnde in the


reglon. By African standards, the Malagasy regime Is remarkably stable and staunchly anti-Communist, though Its stability depends largely on elderly, ailing Preeident Tsiranana. Hbvever, the highlandere of Polynesian and Helenssian origin (Marinas) who ruled tha island in precolonlal days, dislike their political subordination to tha relatively backvard, but more numerous coastal peoples. This is not to say that the departure of Tsiranana vould necessarily lead to political instability. Els heir-apparent is likely to use harsher methods ln dealing with Marina or other disaffection and vould probably maintain control. The Malagasyeputation for political apathy, but they can be roused to violence aa in thaT revolt. In which0 were killed before the French were able to put lt down. On balance, we think that thenstallations on the Island on which the Malagasy look with favor. If only because of the economic benefit they derive from them, will be safe over the near term.

11, Mauritius. Ota situation on Mauritius is far leae eerene. Indeed, the Islandalthualsn nightmare. Ih*0 on an Island ofquare miles) is increasing at the rateear, with alnoat no

prospect! for economic growth, substantial emigration,ignificantly reduced birth rate. Virtually all food is imported, and moat arable land is devoted to sugar, with little hope for Increased or more varied production. Unemployment is riling rapidly, and tha colony's flnancee cannot cope with welfare nsada. Furthermore, racial dirialone ancng Indians, Creolesnd Chinone, and religious antagonisms between Muslims and Hindus compllcato all else.

12. These adverse conditione coupledecent political history of strikes, civil disobedience, and communal violence, suggest that the future of the island ie likely to be turbulent. Mauritius la slated for Independence in? orut must firsteneral election. The Incumbentindu of pro-Western Inclinations, iB supported by the bulk of the Hindu laborera (someercent of the population). Other political pertlea follow racial or religious lines, and aome sort of coalition will probably be necessary toew government. Ocoownists of both Moscow and Peking persuasion have been building strong position* in labor and youth movements and forming front organiiotions. In the likely event that socio-economic conditions continue


Seychelles, returning from the London School ofas gained control of the labor movement, Including the workers atF tracking station, andolitical party.he islanders signalled their emergence into the twentieth century bytrike which led to some violence and eventually intervention by British troops. The IKev constitution allowing for Halted self-govemment. But the outlook for the economy is dim; already troubling population pressures are certain to increase; and the islands are likely to experience some political tension and occasional violence over the near term.

D. The Outlook

15. While the ialonders gropplo with their own domestic difficulties, their area is certain to become even moreower vacuum. During the next year the OK withdrawal from Knurltius, coupled vith the evacuation of the Aden base, will substantially diminish the Western position in tha western Indian Ocean area. This may inject new impetua into plans for exploiting the BICT. B decision to do so would bring forth scant crlticioa from the islanders; even the labor radicals




vtll depend greatly on tho evolving naeda of space progreaa and ocemuil cations and considerations of national eecurlty over the next fee years. These are difficult to foreceat. Some oteervera maintain thatajortring of bases serosa the Indian Ocean vould be Invaluable ln linking CS bauee In Europe and Libya to bases In Australia or Thailand. Probably the principal unknown factor la the degree and nature of future intrusions ln the Indian Ocean by the USSR and Ooaaunlst China. In view of these uncertainties, scats claia that US exploitation of BTOT sites vould serve an anticipatory purpose, ln the expectation that eventually the Communist covers will expand their interests in the Indian Ocean. They liken it to Seward's purohoso of Alaska, act necaaeary at the time, but valuable as world conditions change.




Am In Governing Power 8q. Kilns


Indepoodertoloney Republic)






IK (eelx-sovora-Jng crown colony)

OX (orovn colony)

Brltlnh Indian Ooaan Torrltory (BlOr)



Coooro lalaace rraoot (Cvoreeao territory)

Sthnlq Cccpcnltlon

XerlDseoastal ftjoplo (basically Begro, with Arab, Merita75*

Indiana 6t* (Hindu 5W))

Suropcaii 3L*

llY.OOO Mulatto (fteach and Negro)


Mulatto, Negro, Indian, Malay, Chinese, French


Help KrpcrtB

OOffee, vaoUla, sugar, clovcB, sisal, tobecoo

Sifor and toIbbocb

Copm, coconuts, vanilla, cine main


Tnnllln ana Hover




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