Morocco Recent History

By | May 30, 2021

Modern times

In 1659 the Alawids conquered Marrakech and drove out the last Saadians. In 1664 they defeat the Dila Brotherhood in northern Morocco and take control of most of what is now Morocco. From 1664 to 1672, the Sultan Moulay Raschid consolidated the rule of the Alawids. His successor Moulay Ismail tried from 1672 to 1727 to create a unified Moroccan state. He buys African slaves for his army in order to secure his power base independent of the competing Berber and Bedouin tribes. Nevertheless, it is not possible to create a permanent central state. At the end of the 18th century, the fragmentation of the political balance of power led to the European colonial powers increasing their influence in Morocco. When France occupied Algeria in 1830 and Morocco supported the resistance in the neighboring country, Abdelqader, who had fled to Morocco, and the army of the Moroccan sultan were crushed: in 1844 Morocco was defeated in the war against France. In 1860 Morocco also lost the war against Spain.

Colonial interests and protectorate

In 1880, at the Madrid Conference, the European powers and the United States staked out their power interests in Morocco. The Moroccan sultan was assured of political sovereignty, provided that foreign countries retained free access to Morocco’s resources and markets. France, Spain, Great Britain and the USA had consulates in Morocco, the foreign companies operating under their own laws and jurisdiction. This division of power was further consolidated by the so-called Congo Conference in Berlin in 1885, at which the colonial powers staked out their spheres of influence throughout Africa: Spain received control over northern Morocco and western Sahara: Franceover almost all of the rest of Morocco. The German Reich saw its interests in Africa increasingly threatened. The first Morocco crisis occurred. The conflict was defused diplomatically in July 1906 by the Algeciras Conference, but not resolved. Meanwhile, the Moroccan sultanate was weakened by internal uprisings. In 1912 the Sultan Abdul Hafid signed the Treaty of Fez.

The road to independence

As early as 1909, the Rifkabylen had put up armed resistance against France and Spain’s colonial aspirations. In 1921, under the leadership of Abdel Krim, they rose against the European powers and their allied Sultan. Spain waged the Rif War from 1921-1926 with extreme severity. Spain made extensive use of mustard gas, which was thrown out of the air for the first time in this context. According to cheeroutdoor, the components of the warfare agent came from Germany, the production took place in Spain. The gas caused serious internal injuries that resulted in an excruciating death. According to scientists and those affected from the region, the consequences can still be felt today.

Recent historical research prove the extent of the Spanish use of poisonous gas. The Rif-Kabyle lost the war. From 1936-1939 the Spanish areas of North Africa were involved in the Spanish civil war. From 1940 to 1942 the French-ruled areas of Morocco were subject to the Vichy regime, which was allied with Hitler’s Germany.

Allied troops landed in Morocco from 1942. The US showed sympathy for the independence movement. In 1943, Moroccan nationalists, led by Ahmad Balafrej, founded the Istiqlal Party (Independence Party). The party advocated a renewed monarchy independent of France and a so-called “Greater Morocco” which, according to the ideas of the time, should also include parts of Mauritania. Sultan Muhammad V expressed his solidarity with the independence movement in his famous Tangier speech in 1947. In the early 1950’s there was armed fighting and bombing in Casablanca, with many deaths. It became apparent that France’s days as a colonial power in France were numbered. With the tribal leader Thami El Glaoui in Marrakech, Paris still had one powerful allies. But the strength of the resistance and the popularity of the Sultan gave the independence movement more and more support. In 1953, France had Sultan Mohammed V deported to Corsica and Madagascar and installed an aged, seriously ill puppet ruler. This only strengthened the nationalists: in 1955, Sultan Mohammed V returned to Morocco with a solemn ceremony.

France had also been fighting a nationwide armed uprising in neighboring Algeria since November 1, 1954. Unlike Morocco, Algeria was not a protectorate but, from the French perspective, a part of France. In order to be able to hold Algeria, the French leadership under General de Gaulle decided to release Tunisia and Morocco into independence. Morocco became formally independent on November 18, 1956. Rabat-Sale became the capital of the new kingdom, with the Dar Assalam district and the royal palace there as the center of power. In August 1957, Mohammed V officially became King of Morocco. However, not all nationalists wanted to make friends with the formula “independence in interdependence”. After independence, fundamental differences soon emerged within the Istiqlal party: in 1959 the progressive, left wing of the party split under the new name “Union Nationale des Forces” Populaires “(UNFP) from the mother party. The founders of the UNFP were, among others, the former mathematics teacher of Crown Prince Hassan II. Mehdi Ben Barka and Abderrahman Bouabid. On February 26, 1961, King Mohammed V died of the consequences of a routine operation.

Morocco Recent History