120. Telegram 1349 From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State1
1349. Subject: Tunisian Concern with Threat from Libya. Ref: Tunis 7659.
1. Re para 4 of reftel, we have certainly not seen any comment by Qadhafi in which he threatens to bring about unity with Tunisia by force in 1975. First part of Prime Minister Nouira’s statement is true enough, however. Qadhafi is indeed continuing to insist Djerba Declaration be implemented. What Nouira may be talking about is following statement Qadhafi made at Libya ASU Congress November 6. “Libya has done its utmost to achieve Arab unity. But Arab unity is not at disposition of one side alone it is agreement between several countries. One side cannot do anything unless (unity) is imposed by force, and there is no question of this now”.
2. When Bibi, Jr. says rate of attempted infiltration from Libya has been stepped up, we are not at all clear about what he is referring to. There have been SRF reports of Libyan propaganda teams and other Libyan backed subversives in Tunisia, and we assume Bibi, Jr. is talking [Page 340] about these rather than military or paramilitary units which might be conjured up by word infiltration. We have no info which would confirm building of airstrips along border.
3. We agree fully with assessment that Tunisia has more to fear from potential Libyan subversion than from military attack. It is difficult to foresee circumstances under which Libya, using Soviet weapons, would invade an Arab neighbor. Some Tunisian nervousness about Libya is obviously understandable, but from Tripoli vantage point Tunisians seem to be overdoing it a bit.
Summary: Stein offered his assessment of the Libyan threat to Tunisia.
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country File for Africa, Box 3, Libya, State Department Telegrams (9). Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Tunis, Algiers, Cairo, and Rabat. In January 1974, Libya and Tunisia signed the Djerba Treaty of Unity. Under the terms of the agreement, Tunisia would hold the Presidency and Libya would hold the Defense Ministry. Bourgiba pulled out of the agreement in February.↩