Skip to content

Tunisia

Popular Documents

1959

The Internationalization of the Algerian Problem and Its Inscription on the Agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations from 1957-1959

Detailed summary charting the development of United Nations debates and discussions about the Algerian problem, from 1957-1959, told from an Algerian perspective. Narrates the context and time-line of key events spurring four UN debates on the Algerian problem (from the first, in February 1957, to the fourth, in 1959). Focuses heavily on the foreign policy of France, under Charles De Gaulle's government, highlighting France's reluctance to negotiate, and recognize the independence of Algeria, and France's objections to the United Nation's recognition of Algerian independence.

December 17, 1963

Record of the Second Meeting between Premier Zhou Enlai and President Nasser

Zhou and Nasser discuss developments in and relations with Libya, Tunisia, Israel, Palestine, Morocco, Yemen, and Mauritania, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement and the proposed second Asian-African Conference.

June 10, 1960

Enrico Mattei, 'On the Decolonization of States and of the Economy'

This is the English translation of the translation, into Italian, of a French speech that Enrico Mattei (1906-1962) held in Tunisia in 1960 while negotiating an agreement in his function as the 1953 founder and director of Italy’s Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI)—a conglomerate that managed Italy’s energy needs and led Italy’s energy foreign policy, pleasing many citizens but displeasing some high-ranking officials.

Already in the 1950s Mattei openly supported independence movements, also French Algeria’s. Moreover, he was a sharp Western critic of the world’s dominant oil companies, British Petroleum (until 1954, Anglo-Iranian Oil Company), Royal Dutch Shell, and the five US firms Standard Oil Company of California, Gulf Oil, Texaco, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, and Standard Oil Company of New York, who in various combinations enjoyed oil monopolies in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq. He talked of Anglo-Saxon oil imperialism and in the 1950s coined the moniker the “Seven Sisters”—after the seven Pleiades sisters of Greek mythology—for those companies, leaving out the Compagnie Française des Pétroles that formed part of Iran’s and Iraq’s consortium, too. Unable to break into these two consortia or into the Saudi one, he succeeded to circumvent the Iranian one, which had been midwifed by the US government a year after the 1953 CIA-led coup d’Etat against Prime Minister Muhammad Musaddiq, who in 1951 had nationalized Iran’s oil.

In 1957 Mattei and Iran’s monarch, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980; r. 1941-1979), cut a deal whose profit terms—75-percent for Iran, 25-percent for ENI—undercut the Iranian consortium’s 50-50 terms. The US government did not oppose the deal, hoping it would buoy the shah’s popularity and hence stabilize a Cold War client bordering the Soviet Union. When in 1959 Mattei signed an oil deal with the Soviet Union, he again shocked the consortia and now also Washington: for dealing with the Soviets, and because they sold oil for less than the consortia. (This deal was a contributing factor to a price cut by the large US companies in July 1960, which angered oil producing countries and triggered the birth, in September, of the Organization of the Petroleum Producing Countries, or OPEC, a project discussed from 1959 by Arabs including the Saudi Abdallah al-Tariqi.) In 1958 and 1960, Mattei negotiated deals inter alia with two minor Arab oil producers, Morocco and Tunisia, respectively. Moreover, he entertained contacts with the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale. In 1962 he died in an airplane crash that in 1997 was ruled to have been caused by a bomb—perpetrators unknown.

July 2, 1957

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy in the Senate, Washington, D.C., July 2, 1957

On July 2, 1957, US senator John F. Kennedy made his perhaps best-known senatorial speech—on Algeria.

Home to about 8 million Muslims, 1.2 million European settlers, and 130,000 Jews, it was from October 1954 embroiled in what France dubbed “events”—domestic events, to be precise. Virtually all settlers and most metropolitan French saw Algeria as an indivisible part of France. Algeria had been integrated into metropolitan administrative structures in 1847, towards the end of a structurally if not intentionally genocidal pacification campaign; Algeria’s population dropped by half between 1830, when France invaded, and the early 1870s. Eighty years and many political turns later (see e.g. Messali Hadj’s 1927 speech in this collection), in 1954, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) launched a war for independence. Kennedy did not quite see eye to eye with the FLN.

As Kennedy's speech shows, he did not want France entirely out of North Africa. However, he had criticized French action already in early 1950s Indochina. And in 1957 he met with Abdelkader Chanderli (1915-1993), an unaccredited representative of the FLN at the United Nations in New York and in Washington, DC, and a linchpin of the FLN’s successful international offensive described in Matthew Connelly’s A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002). Thus, Kennedy supported the FLN’s demand for independence, which explains its very positive reaction to his speech.

And thus, unlike the 1952-1960 Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) that officially backed the views of NATO ally France and kept delivering arms, the Democratic senator diagnosed a “war” by “Western imperialism” that, together with if different from “Soviet imperialism,” is “the great enemy of … the most powerful single force in the world today: ... man's eternal desire to be free and independent.” (In fact, Kennedy’s speech on the Algerian example of Western imperialism was the first of two, the second concerning the Polish example of Sovietimperialism. On another, domestic note, to support African Algeria’s independence was an attempt to woe civil-rights-movement-era African Americans without enraging white voters.) To be sure, Kennedy saw France as an ally, too. But France’s war was tainting Washington too much, which helped Moscow. In Kennedy’s eyes, to support the US Cold War against the Soviet Union meant granting Algeria independence. The official French line was the exact opposite: only continued French presence in Algeria could keep Moscow and its Egyptian puppet, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from controlling the Mediterranean and encroaching on Africa.

1950

The Committee for the Liberation of the Arab Maghreb in Cairo

Description of the new office of the Committee for the Liberation of the Arab Maghreb in Cairo, as well as activity in the Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria offices, consideration of opening a Tunisian main office in Lebanon, and progress of the Tunisian and Moroccan independence movements.