France's Problems in North Africa

I

AT a moment when the responsibilities of empire appear to be weighing on Great Britain as never before; when not only India and Egypt, but Palestine, Mesopotamia, and East Africa are, each, presenting anxious problems to tax the wisdom of English statesmanship, France seems to stand more than ever secure in the loyalty of her Mohammedan subjects in North Africa. The immunity of French North Africa from the currents of opinion that sweep through other portions of the Moslem world was usually taken for granted, even before the war. Eleven years ago we find Mr. Wilfred Scawen Blunt, an unfriendly observer with a strong Mohammedan and anti-European bias, regretfully agreeing with an English friend, who lived in Tunis and like himself was a sympathizer with the ideals of the conservative — one might call it reactionary — party in Islam, that fanaticism was dead in North Africa, because it was recognized that resistance to Christendom was useless.

It is instructive to note that, while so keen a supporter of extremist nationalism, which is the present-day form of fanaticism, appealing as it does to the same prejudices and appetites, saw no signs of any national movement, French officials were already predicting a ‘catastrophe’ in Algeria. The fact is that, although Algeria politically belongs to the Near East, its geographical situation has caused us to forget it. I he special correspondent avoids Algeria as offering no scope for copy, and we are all only too pleased, in the perturbed state of the Mohammedan world, to think that no news is good news, and to adopt the theory that the native Algerians are loyal sons of France.

During the war, we heard a good deal of the way in which the Arabs and Berbers supported the Mother Country. In effect, the native population did not contribute in a proportion commensurate with the results that conscription, which had been imposed in 1912, should have produced. For, while the 620,000 European colonists sent 115,000 men, the four and a half million natives provided only 157,000. Still, this effort, coupled with the fact that, with the one exception of Ain Toula in 1916, Algeria remained quiet, although the normal garrison had been enormously reduced,1 reassured those Frenchmen who may have felt doubts about their dependency. Since the war, the popular complacency has been strengthened. For while in India, the Middle East, and Egypt, the anti-European movement has flared up with an unexpected intensity, a calm, to all appearance, has reigned in French North Africa, and the few echoes of the unrest in Tunis which have been bruited in the press have been attributed to ‘ infection’ from Egypt, or from Italian Tripolitania.

To lend emphasis to this optimistic view, the President of the French Republic has recently completed a tour through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunis, which has been stage-managed far more efficiently than was the progress of the Prince of Wales through India. Nothing has been allowed to detract from the impression it was meant to create in France and the world at large. The Sultan of Morocco, descendant of the Prophet, and the Caliph of Northwest Africa, spoke of the ‘glorious Protectorate Government,’ which defends the‘imprescriptible rights of the Shereefian throne’; and the local feudal chiefs — who, on the whole, are inclined to support the French régime so long as their own power over their followers is left untouched while that of the Sultan is kept in check — made their protestations of loyalty to the French President.

M. Millerand waited, however, till he reached Algeria before addressing himself definitely to Europe. Then, in a public speech, he spoke these significant words: ‘ What more striking tribute can be paid to the wisdom of the French people, to its calm, tranquil power, than the fact that, at a moment when the gravest problems are being discussed between the nations, the Chief of State can without anxiety leave the capital for five weeks, to carry to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunis words of hope, confidence, and gratitude from the Mother Country.’

We were supposed to draw the contrast between the wranglings of the Genoa Conference and the immutability of victorious France — a great imperial power, secure in the loyalty and affection of her subjects; and, doubtless, many people on both sides of the Atlantic did so. But it is possible that the French President did not so much believe in the picture himself as wish us to believe in it. Faith is a cardinal virtue in politics, as well as in religion, and the rulers of France arc very anxious to impress the world with the success of their rule in Northern Africa. M. Millerand’s highly colored phrases certainly lose something of their power to convince, when we remember that, two or three days before this allocution was pronounced, a certain Antoine Fabre, editor of a local newspaper called the Cridu Soir, was expelled from Tunis on the ground of his Bolshevist connections. The Paris Matin took the opportunity of announcing this, to explain that an attempt was being made to restore the old Beylic régime, that is, to overthrow French rule, by an unnatural alliance between the Bey and the communistic Young Tunis Party, the Bey espousing their claims for a constitution and an elected national assembly, plus his own private programme for the suppression of the ‘ freedom of the press’ — which, by the way, has lately been taken in hand by the French authorities.

II

It is vital for France that the resolute bid she is making for supremacy in the Islamic world should not be hampered by any inconvenient incidents in Tunis or Algeria. And, seeing that the foreign policy of France, in which the United States as well as Europe is interested, depends very largely on the success of this entente with Islam, it is of considerable importance that we should get the French position in Algeria, of which it is the corner stone, into true perspective. On the Gallic Drang nach Osten I need not enlarge. In that desperate year, 1916, France staked out her claims in the Middle East by the Sykes-Picot Agreement; later, we have seen the Franklin-Bouillon Treaty with the Turks; the attitude of the Quai d’Orsay toward British policy in Egypt, recently manifested in an attempt to reopen that hoary question over the corpse of Tangier; the rumored overtures that the French have made to Ibn Saud, the powerful Sultan of Central Arabia; and even the objections that the Vatican has formulated about the Zionist programme in Palestine. We can see it, too, in more trifling, but not less significant, ways; in the Colonial Exhibition now being held at Marseilles; in the provision of a Mosque and Mohammedan Institute in Paris (there is none in London); and in the recent presidential journey, which was untroubled by hartals, or other untoward incidents.

This lure of the esai is no new thing for France. It is difficult perhaps for an American to realize the interaction of Europe and Asia, which has been the most potent political factor in the history of Europe during the past thirty centuries; but we cannot, without doing wrong to the historical sense, level imperialist accusations at France to-day for doing what she and all other European nations have always done in the days of their greatness and power. The exception is sixteenth-century Spain; and then Columbus discovered America in looking for the Indies.

But, though France is simply following the policy of Saint Louis and Louis XIV, of Napoleon and his nephew, — the third Emperor, — there are special reasons which make this policy more vital for her now than in the past. It is no longer merely a question of trade, or of sentiment. To France to-day the supreme problem, of which reparations is only one facet, is how to maintain its position as the great military power of the European Continent, with a population inadequate in numbers to shoulder the burden. The solution has been sought overseas. France’s colored subjects have been brought in, to redress the balance of a diminishing birth-rate in the Mother Country. Thus, the employment of black troops on the Rhine has been no mere piece of official tactlessness, but has been designed to encourage Frenchmen to take comfort from their imperial resources, and to demonstrate to Germany that France has at her back great reserves of manpower in Africa.

This conception is not the fruit of the war; it goes back to the years of strain preceding the catastrophe. The introduction of conscription into Algeria, in 1912, was fraught with consequences which are now only beginning to emerge. But the acceptance of this idea, with all the moral and material support it implies, makes the success of French rule in Algeria, and throughout North Africa, vital to the national position of France. Egypt, or rather the Suez Canal, may or may not be a necessary link in the chain of the British Empire; Algeria is the foundationstone of the imposing imperial structure which the French began to erect in 1830.

That is why any student of foreign politics may say with Bassanio, ‘ so may the outward shows be least themselves,’ and attach a deeper significance to the presidential visit than that popularly given. For in spite of the ‘calm, tranquil power’ of the French people, there is very real anxiety among the governing clique in Paris regarding the situation in Tunisia and Algeria. If we may believe General Gouraud, the costly and not very successful efforts that France is making to enforce a ‘friendly tutelage’ over Syria are connected with this same preoccupation. That is, at least, the legitimate inference from the French High Commissioner’s words to a French journalist: ‘If the balance is once reëstablished [that is, the Mandate effectually enforced] in this vital spot, there will be peace, not merely in the East, but in the whole of French Northern Africa.’ One may disagree with these conclusions, but they are an interesting illustration, both of the motives that underlie French policy in the East to-day, and of the apprehension among responsible Frenchmen concerning the situation in North Africa.

III

To understand the reason for this, we must first realize the differences between the three dependencies, which together are about two and a half times as big as France, or one sixth the area of the United States—Tunis, the smallest, being rather larger than New York, whereas Algeria and Morocco are each, individually, larger than France. The first step was taken in 1830, when a French naval and military expedition attacked Algiers, and overthrew the government of the Dey Hussein, the last of a line of tyrants as bloodthirsty as any recorded in history. France found little difficulty in cleaning out this nest of pirates, a thorn in the side of Christendom for centuries, and deserved well of Europe for so doing. But it was not true of the conquest of Algeria that ’it is only the first step that costs.’ On the contrary, the subjugation of that country — what Chateaubriand called ‘the most spotless of conquests’— was to prove a long and costly business, made longer by the indecision of the French Government. For, when the Dey had been deposed, and the Turks, who filled such offices as existed in his rotten government, had been packed on shipboard and sent, off to Asia Minor, with two months’ pay as indemnity, Paris seems to have thought that it was sufficient to establish a French administration in Algiers. It was not till Bugeaud pointed out that definite peace for Algeria lay in the Sahara, that the French conception of the country as a French region, a prolongation, on the southern side of the Mediterranean, of the sacred soil of the Motherland, took shape; and only after the serious native rebellion of 1871 was direct administration introduced.

Twenty years later, there was another swing of the pendulum, when M. Jules Cambon, the most distinguished Frenchman who has been connected with Algeria, tried, as Governor-General, to oppose the policy of assimilation, of treating Algeria as if it were indistinguishable from France, by developing the local liberties of the North African dependency. But this only partially succeeded. Algeria to-day remains under the French Ministry of the Interior; it is divided into departments, and sends senators and deputies to the French Parliament. It has its own budget, however, and the local prefects (governors of departments) are answerable to the Governor-General, and not directly to Paris. Most Frenchmen who have written about Algeria agree in complaining of the cast-iron French mould into which the local administration has been forced, and deplore the absence of that spirit of elasticity which is supposed to characterize English colonial administration.

While Algeria is thus part of France, Tunis and Morocco are protectorates, with their own native rulers and officials, side by side with those of the protecting power. In Tunis, under the Convention of 1881 with the then ruling Bey, which set up the Protectorate, power centres in the hands of the French Resident-General, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, and to whose advice the Bey is forced to submit. Of the other ten ministers, eight are French and two Tunisian. The provincial governors also are all French, and the native element is found in considerable numbers only in the lower ranks of the official hierarchy. There is no elective assembly. A protectorate of this kind is practically indistinguishable from annexation, and the French hold over Tunis is weaker than that over Algeria only because of the more formidable organization of native opinion which former independence makes possible.

It is worth while noting that the English never attempted in Egypt to exercise anything approaching this control of the administration. Egyptians always filled the ministerial portfolios and the positions of provincial governors; and since the recognition of Egyptian independence, even English supervision through advisers has ceased for all purely Egyptian affairs. To this example,— which does not at present show any very hopeful auguries of success, — following on President Wilson’s asseveration of the right of peoples to dispose of themselves, the French attribute the ‘infection’ which has indubitably attacked the body politic in the Regency, as Tunis is technically called, and is spreading to Algeria.

There is, finally, Morocco, the last and, in some respects, the most satisfactory of the French conquests in North Africa. It is slightly superior to Algeria in size, has a better climate, and more potential wealth. Its pacification, which it is confidently anticipated will be entirely completed next year, will have been accomplished in a quarter of the time, and at one seventh of the cost, of that of Algeria. Thanks to the genius of General Lyautey, the counterpart in the military sphere of M. Jules Cambon in the civil, France has established her ascendancy with a minimum of effort, and the Protectorate, formally established in 1912, works with far less friction than in Tunis; the reason for this being that the French have wisely respected the feudal powers of the great chiefs, and also have left more initiative to the central government. As in Tunis, there is a French Resident-General, who has the last word in every important matter; but the Vizier (Prime Minister) is a Moor, and there are Moorish ministers of Finance and Justice, with French advisers on the Anglo-Egyptian model. Unlike Tunis and Algeria, Morocco contains no educated effendi class, which is the backbone of the nationalist movement in all Islamic countries. Until fifteen years ago, it was still an oriental despotism, tempered only by the particularism of the tribal chieftains. Under French administration it has prospered exceedingly. Imports in ten years have risen from 10,000,000 to 813,000,000 francs, and French trade has gained a more than proportional benefit. It is not surprising that General Lyautey, with this achievement to his credit in the Caliphate of the West, carries weight in Paris when he recommends the policy of an entente with the Caliphate of the East—in other words, with Turkey.

When we come to look into the matter more closely, however, we find that it is just in this policy of establishing an entente with Islam, or, to put it more precisely, of reaching a modus vivendi between European and Mohammedan, that France has hitherto failed in Algeria and Tunis. That charming writer, Gaston Boissier, contrasting the success of Rome in turning the natives of North Africa into loyal subjects of the Empire with the comparative failure of France’s efforts in a similar direction, says: ‘May not the obstacle lie in religion? That is the most potent cause of division; it is what makes the nations our mortal enemies to-day. They are no more a nation than they formerly were, but they follow a religion that, commands them to detest us. It is that which sets a deep gulf between them and ourselves; which brings them together, despite their natural taste for living by themselves; which makes them suspicious of the benefits we confer on them; which leads them to listen to all those who try to incite them to rise against us. The war they have been carrying on against us for fifty years is no longer a national, but a religious, war.’

Boissier perhaps overestimated the power of imperial Rome to assimilate the peoples of North Africa. The ‘inflexible zeal of freedom and fanaticism,’ which, in Gibbon’s sonorous phrase, animated the Donatists and cut them off from the Empire, shows that the anti-European spirit was alive, even in what Mohammedans term the days of the Ignorance. One may well believe that Islam, imposed on this stubborn national character, has made it impermeable to French culture and civilization. ‘Xenophobia,’ says a French writer to-day, ‘is still the basis of the native soul’; and every effort of France dashes itself in vain against the impenetrable barrier of the Koran.

IV

Had the French possessed the swarming power of the Anglo-Saxons, the Teutons, or the Italians, the situation in Algeria to-day might possibly have been different, for the coastal region is fertile and not unsuited to European settlers, at any rate, from the Mediterranean peoples. But the French have not settled in Algeria in such numbers as to make it ‘white’; and even the French who are there are described by M. Raymond Aynard, who knows what he is talking about, as ‘Spaniards, Neapolitans, Jews, who can hardly stutter a word or two in our tongue.’ These, to come to figures, amount to 620,000, out of a total of over five millions. Thus the real French colonist is in a minority of a minority.

To make the position worse, the natives are increasing far more rapidly than the Europeans, the one adding but 6000 to their numbers annually, the others 60,000. Hitherto, this numerical inferiority has been counterbalanced by the privileged position held by the Europeans. But the law of 1919, the charter of native rights, has, to a great extent, swept this away, with the result that the colonists have become disheartened, if not actually alarmed, as to their physical security. They say that their social and economic situation has been made intolerable; that they have been sacrificed by the politicians of Paris to the imaginary grievances of the Berbers; and there has been a not inconsiderable movement among the Europeans to dispose of their farms to the natives, who arc always ‘landhungry,’ and to migrate to the towns. Their discontent was shown in a recent European election at Algiers, where, though 14,000 voters declared for the candidate of the Republican Left, no less than 8000 supported a declared Bolshevik or, rather, Communist . This unrest among the Europeans is a factor which has to be reckoned with. It is particularly prevalent in Constantine and Kabylia; and in Oran, where the Spanish element (with its traditional anti-Arab feeling) is numerous, the tension between European and native is even stronger than elsewhere.

There may be some reason for the bitterness of the colonists at the way their interests have been sacrificed; but the real fault is their own. Had they increased and multiplied, had the French and neo-French shown the fecundity of the American settlers in the eighteenth century, the problem of Algeria would have presented itself in very different guise to the French Government. There would then have been no necessity to venture on the dangerous path of trying to win over the natives by conciliation and concessions.

Yet the first step in the new direction was, in appearance, neither. This was the institution of native conscription in 1912. The native party-leaders, with an acuter sense of its possibilities than the French War Office, welcomed the measure as strengthening their hands, and they exploited it to the full during the war. It was natural to argue that, if the natives of Algeria were good enough to fight for France, they were good enough to vote for her; if they were called on to make the same military sacrifices as French citizens, then they should, at least, be treated with fairness and sympathy. The result, of this campaign, which was vigorously conducted by the Young Algerian Party, in Paris as well as in Algeria, and was supported by the Extreme Left in the French Chamber, — whose alliance with the more subversive forms of nationalism in North Africa, particularly in Tunis, is curiously paralleled by the similar incursions of English Labor Members into Egyptian politics, — was the law of 1919.

Passed in a hurry, in the first flush of victory, it seems to have aroused little opposition in France, where it was generally regarded as a grateful geste, in return for the military assistance afforded by the Algerians during the war. French colonists in Algeria, already in alarm at the changed demeanor of the native, became thoroughly frightened when they realized the attitude of the people of France, their fellow citizens. This was shown in a report to the Senate in 1918, where the problem was enunciated as being one of stimulating the initiative of the natives — in its sentimental liberalism almost as naïve a statement as the celebrated phrase used by Mr. E. S. Montagu, the English exSecretary of State for India, as to the need of arousing the Indian from his pathetic contentment. In vain the French colonists protested through their Senators and Deputies. The French Parliament was determined, in the words of one opponent of the measure, to make of their subjects, ‘if not citizens, at least electors, at the risk of driving the country into paralysis or convulsions.’ The bill, therefore, duly became law, and 140,000 French electors found themselves faced by 421,000 natives also possessing the franchise.

This ‘Law concerning the Admission of the Natives of Algeria to Political Rights’ has two chapters. The first deals with naturalization, which is made somewhat easier to effect. It should be explained that, though every native of Algeria is French, he is not a French citizen. He may become one if he likes, and he will then enjoy the rights which attach to this status; but, in order to do so, he must give up his privilege of being regulated in questions of marriage, divorce, and inheritance by the Koranic law. In other words, he must cut himself off from his fellow Mohammedans, in whose eyes, by doing so, he will appear a renegade. It is not surprising that, in the past half-century, there have not been above 1000 naturalizations; nor is the process likely to become any more popular in the future. The native leaders are laying stress on the study of the Koran and the need of better teaching of Arabic in the schools. This, we may take it, is a mere party cry, as sincere as such things usually are, and designed merely to flatter Moslem sentiment. For the Berbers of North Africa speak a dialect further removed from the classical language than that spoken in Egypt, where the same reasons have prompted the allocation of many hours a week to the study of the Koran and the Arabic of the classics. Neither in Algeria, nor in Egypt, are the demagogues really anxious to raise the people from the illiteracy which is the general rule in both countries.

On the other hand, the French, with their splendid pride in their own lucid tongue, look with disfavor on the extension of the teaching of Arabic. It has yet to be demonstrated that any Islamic people can benefit from education, as we understand it nowadays. Those Frenchmen who know Algeria best question the wisdom of the present educational scheme in Algeria, by which, in course of a rather long time, the whole juvenile population will be brought within the orbit of the elementary school; and they are probably right in insisting that the need of the Algerians, who are sunk in abject poverty, is for technical and agricultural, rather than literary, instruction.

It is this illiterate population that the law of 1919 has enfranchised. For, by the second chapter, Mohammedans who are not French citizens are granted the privilege of electing native members, with the same rights as the French members, to all the deliberative assemblies in Algeria; to the financial delegations; to the superior council, which discusses and, with the last-named, votes the budget; to the general councils, the municipal councils and commissions; and, lastly, to the village councils, the djemaas, which form the smallest unit of the administration.

Here, then, almost at a single bound, the natives of Algeria, if they have not been placed on the same footing as the Europeans who return members to the French Parliament, have, in their own country, broken down the position of privilege which the colonists once held. In every assembly natives sit side by side with the Europeans; they have the same rights of deliberating on municipal and provincial affairs, the same opportunities to influence the central government, and to air their grievances. It is true that these concessions, generous as they are, leave the question of representation in the French Parliament where it was; and, so long as the four and a half million natives are unrepresented there, their leaders will claim that they are little better than helots. This, at any rate, is the ostensible reason why they profess to be dissatisfied with the law of 1919. It is significant that, on M. Millerand’s recent tour, a certain Mir Khaled, an ex-Captain of Spahis (native Algerian troops) and an officer of the Legion of Honor, pointed out that they now wanted representation in the French Chamber; and that the President, in a conciliatory speech, urged the natives to be patient, to consolidate the gains they had already won, and to show their ability to make use of their new privileges.

So far they have done none of these things. Those, on the contrary, who profess to speak for the inarticulate masses, express their dissatisfaction in no uncertain voice, and the French, as the result of their concessions, are more mistrusted than they were before. A not uninstructive analogy can be drawn with Egypt, where English prestige is at a lower point to-day than ever before. When the Young Algerian Party spoke for the Algerian natives, the movement was never an extremist one, the Young Algerian leaders being too deeply impregnated with French culture ever to be fundamentally antiFrench. But it is just this European sympathy which caused them to lose influence with the new party, which takes its inspiration from the Koran and its programme from the Socialists, of which the realization would mean the end of French rule in North Africa. At the head of the new party’s demands is that for the naturalization of the natives in their religious status, which no French government could grant; for, apart from political considerations, it would create a class of French citizens who, in the vital questions of marriage and divorce, would be outside the French codes. If this were obtained — and there is a speciousness about it that appeals to the African mind — the other planks in the platform — the suppression of the disciplinary powers of the French administrators, the application of the common law to all, the equality of French and native officials — would follow almost as a matter of course. The representatives of this party were successful at the polls; and thus, for the first time, the French find themselves opposed, not merely by the blind forces of fanaticism, or Xenophobia, or whatever label we choose to attach to the frame of mind which shows itself in a disinclination to accept the rule of a foreign race, but by a political party definitely nationalist in color, and with as definite an anti-French bias.

V

But though the natives are dissatisfied with their concessions, as being insufficient, they have not proved their ability to put them to any useful purpose. In the village councils, or djemaas, where the results are more immediately perceptible, the elective principle has proved a failure. Previously these djemaas, which play an important role in the economic life of the country, since they regulate the questions that arise over the three million hectares of common land throughout Algeria, consisted of native caids and sheiks, nominated by and responsible to, the central administration. Now that the presidents and members are elected, the way has been opened to jobbery and corruption so flagrant that, in many cases, natives returning from the war have found their rights in the common lands usurped by interlopers who were friends or relatives of the members of these djemaas! The abuse has grown to such an extent that the Government has already been obliged to re-create the old official djemaas.

Nor is there much hope that the vote, which all Orientals regard with contempt as a Western idea and useful only if it shows some prospect of immediate material gain, will be any more successful in the larger spheres. It looks as if the elected native members, instead of taking M. Millerand’s advice, will form a sort of permanent native opposition.

The Algerians, though they understand, as little as other Orientals, the real nature of representative government, have, from all accounts, proved apt manipulators of the ballot box and experts in the arts of demagogy. There is something in the programme of the new native party to appeal to all appetites and prejudices. The native capitalist hopes to gain from the relaxation of French rule, just as the Egyptian pasha hopes to profit from the removal of British control in the administration; those who look to an official career eagerly support the demand for the complete assimilation of French and native officials; the agriculturists favor the application of the same law to all, natives and Europeans alike; and the town mobs take up the cry that the disciplinary powers of the French administrators shall be swept away. And not only the disorderly elements in the towns: one of the results of the law of 1919, which allowed all natives to buy arms without any formalities, has been to create a condition bordering on anarchy in many of the country districts in Algeria. In Oran, it was calculated that nine tenths of the crimes committed went unpunished; everywhere the Pax Gallica, established as the result of ninety years of effort, was endangered. An amendment has now been passed, withdrawing this freedom in the purchase of arms from the native. But it is easier in politics to give than to take back, and the products of St.-Étienne are still having a good sale among the Berbers.

These are some elements of the situation in Algeria to-day. On the one hand, the European colonists, French and neo-French, hostile to the policy imposed from Paris and disheartened at the deterioration of their political and economic situation: on the other hand, the natives, outnumbering the Europeans by nearly eight to one and following their leaders, who are determined to break down every barrier which has hitherto hedged them in. And to hold the balance there are the French officials, not specially recruited for dealing with an Oriental population, as in the Indian Civil Service, but too often transferred at the whim of the Ministry of Interior from posts in France. So far the French Government has tried political concession. Further along that line it cannot well go; as we have seen, it has already had to draw back in certain respects. How, then, is the unrest to be allayed? Frenchmen who have had experience in Algeria believe that, with a control over the native press, — at present the restrictions over the press in Algeria are the same as those in France, — with a reform of the Civil Service, and with a development of the essential public services, such as the survey, irrigation,2 and the like, a good deal can be done to counter the present movement, which, the French assert, when they admit its existence at all, owes much to Bolshevist and German propaganda. Certainly the theory of ‘infection,’ in that it attributes the present instability to outside causes, is soothing to the national pride. But it is difficult to say how far it is the case. When we are told of anti-French intrigues in North Africa, we cannot forget that the French have always proved particularly suspicious of foreign interference, and seen it where it has never existed; as, for instance, in their treatment of the American Evangelical Mission in Kabylia, or the recent visit of Mr. Crane to Syria, which was made responsible for the outbreak which had been brewing in that country for many months.

In Tunis the connections that exist among the upper classes with Cairo and Stamboul have played apart in developing the present form of extreme nationalism, which sets the natives in sullen hostility to the French, and puts the Bey in sympathy with the Young Tunis party, whose cry is Tunis for the Tunisians. A good idea of the conditions that prevailed there shortly before the war may be obtained from Mr. Norman Douglas’s book, Fountains in the Sand, He shows the conditions that prevail in Tunis, and the weakness as well as the strength of French administration in the Regency. The Algerians do not, at present, go so far as their neighbors to the eastward. Their demand is for assimilation, which no French Government could ever grant, given the fundamental fact that France does not, and cannot, trust the loyalty of the natives in Algeria.

I have tried not to overcloud the picture. I have not mentioned the sporadic examples of a sort of communistic pan-Islamism which have cropped up in the past few years; of Berber schoolboys advocating Bolshevism; of the dockers at Oran going on strike as a protest against French policy toward Russia; of the sabotage of the railwaymen at Constantine; and of the fact that the ‘North African Proletariat’ sent its representative to the Tours Congress, and signified its adhesion to the Third International. But I have said enough to show that M. Millerand’s recent words about the ‘calm, tranquil power’ of France in North Africa require a good deal of modification before they can be taken as a factor affecting the political situation of the world to-day.

  1. The present garrison in French North Africa is about 170,000, including French, Algerians, and ‘auxiliaries.’
  2. A loan of 1,600,000,000 francs for Algeria has recently been sanctioned.