A Letter From Paris

A Letter From Paris

You ask me about Messali Hadj and the MNA. This is an extremely complicated story and I hesitate to take any categoric position.

It would seem that the French government recently thought of using the MNA and Messali as a counterweight to the FLN and that this project took shape just when the Evian negotiations appeared to be set.

In my eyes, and from the French standpoint, the reasons for this are entirely natural and even legitimate. The FLN is tied to the International Communist bloc and includes an internal tendency whose orientation, thought and funda• mental political conceptions have nothing in common with democracy and everything in common with Communism of the Moscow variety (Fidel Castro). Under the circumstances, de Gaulle, who has taken a stand in favor of Algerian independence, now seems concerned about the nature of that independence. He is trying to assure the future in terms of French economic interests on the other side of the Mediterranean, in particular the Sahara, and also in terms of resistance to Soviet and Chinese pressure on Africa.

Paris is operating under a double hypothesis: first, that the MNA has a potential mass base in Algeria. This claim does not appear to be false, but it remains to be seen to what extent the militants of an organization tolerated by the French authorities can capitalize upon and organize such a diffuse influence. Further, the Messalists have fought Moscow and the Stalinists for more than 30 years. They are also at odds with Nasser and Moscow’s other Arab friends. They therefore represent a guarantee against Soviet influence in North Africa.

It is impossible for me to tell right now to what extent the MNA, even in Algeria, is profiting from the tolerance of the French authorities in order to rebuild its movement, or to what extent it has succeeded in doing this. A source close to the government informs me that this operation has taken on a certain size already, but some degree of bluff and deception in it must be taken into account.