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American Foreign Policy in French North Africa: The 1958 Sakiet Crisis and the Good Offices Mission Open Access

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American diplomatic involvement in the French-Algerian War of 1954-1962 was never as heightened as it was during the aftermath of the French bombing of the Tunisian border town of Sakiet-Sidi-Youssef on February 8, 1958. The bombardment of Sakiet, and the deaths of dozens of Tunisians, sparked a crisis drawing international attention to France's colonial war in Algeria. Having interests on both sides of the conflict--France, a European NATO ally and Tunisia, a pro-American Arab ally--the Eisenhower administration, along with the MacMillan Government of Great Britain, offered France and Tunisia their good offices as mediators. Hoping to settle the problems on both sides of the divide, the Anglo-American Good Offices Mission struggled to deal effectively with the situation, all the time worrying about both alienating France, or losing the western orientation of key allies such as Tunisia. No agreement was reached at the end of the Good Offices Mission. Instead French Prime Minister Félix Gaillard fell from power; the Fourth Republic followed soon afterwards and was replaced by Charles de Gaulle who took it upon himself to reconcile France and Tunisia. Nonetheless, the mission was not a total failure because American relations with Tunisia were strengthened and France was forced to look at how the Algerian War affected its allies in the Cold War. However, the Good Offices Mission did not signify any true reorientation in American policy towards France as Eisenhower--and then later Kennedy--maintained a basic middle of the road policy towards the French-Algerian War.

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