U.S. intelligence activities in Algeria
See, at the parent article, regional National Intelligence Estimates.
In Algeria, Houari Boumédienne will probably continue to seek a broad consensus in support of his government, but the army will remain the dominant political force. Considerable political infighting within the regime is likely, probably involving occasional charges within the leadership. There is considerable potential for economic growth, but political confusion and the leaders' demonstrated difficulty in reaching policy decisions will hamper the task of dealing with Algeria's monumental economic problems. However, high levels of petroleum revenues and French economic assistance will keep the economy going, though at a slow pace.
Algeria's relations with the US will be less suspicious, and with the USSR more reserved, than in Ahmed Ben Bella's day. Algerian dependence on the Soviets as a source of arms aid, and Algerian distrust of US policy--notably in Vietnam but also in the Maghreb itself--will be limiting factors on any basic change. Tunisian and Moroccan relations with the West, particularly the US and West Germany, are likely to remain close. None of the Maghreb countries is likely to become closely involved in the affairs of the Eastern Arab or sub-Saharan African states.
While political and economic stability are uncertain in Algeria, President Ahmed Ben Bella clearly remains the political personality with the widest popular appeal and best control as exist in Algeria. His recent negotiations with the Kayble dissidents and other opponents seem likely to contain further threats of armed revolt for the time being. He seems to have domestic unrest under control, with the greatest danger being "continued economic misery or of military reverses on the Moroccan border conflict."
The economy is unlikely to improve in the near term. "European colonization gave independent Algeria an impressive physical plant in terms of industries and transportation links, but the exodus left it with only a tiny fragment of trained people necessary to run it." "...massive unemployment will continue for some time to plague the three million Algerians in the cities. We think it likely that the nationalized agricultural properties will experience considerable trouble in maintaining a minimum level of subsistence in rural areas. However, Algeria will need to import food for many years to come. For a number of years foreign aid will play a critical role in keeping Algeria from financial collapse and in feeding the country. France will almost certainly continue to provide a substantial level of developmental and budgetary assistance for at least the next two years or so. Nevertheless, the Franco-Algerian relationship will be delicate and there will almost certainly be strains, perhaps arising from the use of the Saharan test sites or disagreements over oil revenues, which could threaten the flow of French aid.
In the absence of a Franco-Algerian rupture, the Soviet Union is unlikely to play a major role in Algeria. If relations with France deteriorate, Algiers would probably try to obtain more aid from both the US and the Soviet Bloc. Under present circumstances, the Soviets seem to realize that they cannot compete with France and are content to establish a presence, get into the military field where possible, and take advantage of any opportunities which may occur.
"Algeria's general foreign policy will continue to be governed by the desire of its leaders to align themselves broadly with the neutralist bloc and to oppose ``imperialism". This general attitude will from time to time bring frictions not only with France but with the US and other Western Powers as well. One major source of such frictions will be Algeria's effort to play a prominent role in encouraging revolutionary independence movements in Africa, a policy to which the regime seems fairly well committed.
"Links to the eastern Arab world are unlikely to be of major importance to Algeria's policy, but Ben Bella will probably continue to look to Cairo for assistance and will cooperate with Nasser on an ad hoc basis.
"Prospects for a final settlement of the Moroccan border conflict are not promising. Incidents in the disputed border areas are likely to be endemic and could lead to outbreaks of larger scale fighting. If this occurs or if an arms buildup continues because no political settlement can be reached, there may be increasing pressure on the great powers to declare themselves and to give material support. On the whole, however, we believe that if the US preserves a generally neutral stance the USSR will be disposed to limit its intervention. The effort of the other African states to find a solution through the Organization for African Unity (OAU) [now the African Union(AU)] will also help to insulate the struggle from the wider issues of the cold war.
In Algeria, Boumediene will probably continue to seek a broad consensus in support of his government, but the army will remain the dominant political force. Considerable political infighting within the regime is likely, probably involving occasional charges within the leadership. There is considerable potential for economic growth, but political confusion and the leaders' demonstrated difficulty in reaching policy decisions will hamper the task of dealing with Algeria's monumental economic problems. However, high levels of petroleum revenues and French economic assistance will keep the economy going, though at a slow pace.
Algeria's relations with the US will be less suspicious, and with the USSR more reserved, than in Ben Bella's day. Algerian dependence on the Soviets as a source of arms aid, and Algerian distrust of US policy--notably in Vietnam but also in the Maghreb itself--will be limiting factors on any basic change. Tunisian and Moroccan relations with the West, particularly the US and West Germany, are likely to remain close.
An Intelligence Memorandum (i.e., CIA document, not IC-wide) opened with "Algeria has long been a paradox. It is a radical Arab state with fairly close ties to the USSR; it is also a major, wealthy oil-producer, and a long time recipient of subsidies from and favorable treatment by France. Its government is avowedly socialist and anti-US in its public pronouncements, but it has substantial dealings with American technicians and corporations. Alleged by some, particularly the Moroccans, to be a pliable instrument of the USSR, Algeria in fact has occasionally been critical of the Soviets and jealously guards its independence.
"Algeria may continue to follow a similarly mixed pattern. Yet quite a different course of developments is possible: one which would entail a deterioration of its relations with France, bring on a change in its dealings with the oil companies so severe as to have international repercussions, and ultimately enhance its ties with the Soviet Union. We do not estimate this to be the probable sequence of events; we do regard it as a serious possibility worthy of careful attention."
Other significant observations include "In 1965, an agreement was negotiated between the two governments which provided for French purchase of Algerian oil at above world market prices. Since then, production has substantially increased -- as have revenues -- and Algeria has become a relatively wealthy state in the underdeveloped world.Current production is nearly one million barrels a day, giving Algeria an income of about $600 million in 1968.
"At the same time, the Algerians developed good, even close relations with the USSR. The most effective tie has been an extensive Soviet military assistance program. Since 1963, Algeria has received some $250 million in planes, tanks, ships, and the like from the USSR. Its armed forces are now almost ccmpletely dependent on Moscow for spare parts, replacements, training, and ammunition. There are 1,200-1,500 Soviet military advisors and technicians in Algeria. The Soviets are helping build a large steel mill and a number of small projects. Trade is growing, and substantial Soviet aid projects have been promised. Recently the USSR agreed to buy the large quantities of Algerian wine which France had refused to take and which had been unsalable elsewhere.
"...In seeking to develop Algeria along non-capitalist lines, the government has sought the advice of numerous foreign expert economic bodies, including the Soviet's GOSPLAN. And at least some of GOSPLAN's recommendations appear to have been accepted. Since then there have been working ties between Russian and Algerian planners, technicians, engineers and the like, paralleling the working relationships between their military counterparts. The Algerians are seeking to develop as much autarchy as possible by establishing a host of import substitution enterprises. Aided by some 2,000 Soviets, and by even more Frenchmen, Germans, Americans, and other Westerners, Algeria is now embarked on a major economic development program. Most investment is in costly projects designed to make Algeria, ultimately, a sizeable industrial power with jobs and prosperity for all. But many years will be required to produce results. In the interim, as in the USSR, the consumer comes last; living standards are low, taxes high, and goods scarce. There is also widespread unemployment.
"...This development program is far from being Russian directed or administered however. Indeed, one of the Algerian government's principal aims is to acquire or maintain its own control of all elements of the economy, including those in which the Soviets are participating. To this end, it has nationalized or taken over the direction of virtually all foreign private enterprises in Algeria, except for foreign, principally French, oil companies. At the same time, it is launching a host of new joint ventures with Western, including many American, private corporations in such fields as oil exploration.
"...A common thread runs through all this activity. In each case the Algerian government refuses to surrender control of any project to an outsider. Unlike the traditional oil concessions of the Middle East over the years, which grant outside companies considerable latitude in determining such matters as exploration and production, all Algerian joint venture agreements give the host government 51 percent of the shares -- and operating control. The highly paid foreign consultants and technicians are employees of the Algerian government, which can hire and fire them at will. The expensive expertise and equipment being purchased is paid for by Algeria's oil revenues, and this gives it substantial freedom of action.
"Algeria's foreign policies are not unlike its domestic ones. It seeks to maintain freedom from outside domination and direction, while pursuing courses of action and adopting attitudes consistent with its own revolutionary principles. It normally sympathizes with the socialist world rather than the capitalist one. It views the US government with suspicion and frequently with hostility. It particularly objects to US policy in Vietnam and in the Middle East; it regards the efforts of the Viet Cong and the Palestinians as counterparts of its own revolutionary struggle, and casts the US in the role of the French in that conflict. See the document for further details.
- National Intelligence Estimate 60-66: The Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), vol. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXIV, Africa, 5 May 1966, FRUS-XXIV-1
- , National Intelligence Estimate62-63: Algeria, Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Africa, November 27, 1963, FRUS-90, NIE 62-63
- CIA Office of National Estimates (19 August 1969), Algeria: Troubles Ahead?, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume E-5, Part 2, Documents on Africa, 1969-1972, FRUS-15