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The French Protectorate lasted until the dissolution of the Treaty of Fes on 2 March 1956, with the Franco-Moroccan Joint Declaration.
Morocco's independence did not mean an end to French presence. France preserved its influence in the country, including a right to station French troops and to have a say in Morocco's foreign policy. French settlers also maintained their rights and property.
The French Protectorate shared territory with the Spanish protectorate
, established and dissolved the same years; its borders consisted of the area of Morocco
between the "Corridor of Taza
" and the Draa River
, including sparse tribal lands, and the official capital was Rabat
Map of the Atlantic coast of Morocco (1830)
Despite the weakness of its authority, the Alaouite dynasty
distinguished itself in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by maintaining Morocco’s independence while other states in the region succumbed to French or British
domination. However, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Morocco’s weakness and instability invited European intervention to protect threatened investments and to demand economic concessions. This culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Madrid
in 1880. The first years of the twentieth century witnessed a rush of diplomatic maneuvering through which the European powers and France, in particular, furthered their interests in North Africa.
French activity in Morocco began at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1904 the French government was trying to establish a protectorate over Morocco and had managed to sign two bilateral secret agreements with Britain (8 April 1904, see Entente cordiale
) and Spain (7 October 1904), which guaranteed the support of the powers in question in this endeavor. France and Spain secretly partitioned the territory of the sultanate, with Spain receiving concessions in the far north and south of the country.
First Moroccan Crisis: March 1905 – May 1906
The First Moroccan Crisis
grew out of the imperial rivalries
of the great powers, in this case, between Germany on one side and France, with British support, on the other. Germany took immediate diplomatic action to block the new accord from going into effect, including the dramatic visit of Wilhelm II
in Morocco on 31 March 1905. Kaiser Wilhelm tried to get Morocco's support if they went to war with France or Britain, and gave a speech expressing support for Moroccan independence, which amounted to a provocative challenge to French influence in Morocco.
In 1906 the Algeciras Conference
was held to settle the dispute, and Germany accepted an agreement in which France agreed to yield control of the Moroccan police, but otherwise retained effective control of Moroccan political
affairs. Although the Algeciras Conference temporarily solved the First Moroccan Crisis it only worsened international tensions between the Triple Alliance
and the Triple Entente
The French cruiser Gloire
August 1907, printed on a postcard.
Abdelaziz did virtually nothing in response to French aggressions and occupation of Oujda and the Chaouia.
As a result, there was growing pressure jihad
in defense of Morocco, particularly from Muhammad al-Kattani
and the people of Fes. After the southern aristocrats pledged support to the sultan's brother, Abd al-Hafid
, the people of Fes also pledged their support, though qualified by an unprecedented Conditional Bay'ah
France supported Abdelaziz and promoted him in their propaganda newspaper Es-Saada
In 1911, a rebellion broke out in Morocco against the Sultan, Abdelhafid
. By early April 1911, the Sultan was besieged in his palace in Fez
and the French prepared to send troops to help put down the rebellion under the pretext of protecting European lives and property. The French dispatched a flying column
at the end of April 1911 and Germany
gave approval for the occupation of the city. Moroccan forces
besieged the French-occupied city. Approximately one month later, French forces brought the siege to an end. On 5 June 1911 the Spanish occupied Larache
. On 1 July 1911 the German gunboat Panther arrived at the port of Agadir
. There was an immediate reaction from the French, supported by the British.
French protectorate (1912–1956)
The Treaty of Fes
, which officially established the Protectorate on 30 March 1912.
Bond of the French protectorate Morocco, issued 1 March 1918
officially established a protectorate over Morocco with the Treaty of Fez
ending what remained of the country's de facto
independence. From a strictly legal point of view, the treaty did not deprive Morocco of its status as a sovereign state
. The Sultan reigned but did not rule. Sultan Abdelhafid
abdicated in favour of his brother Yusef
after signing the treaty. On 17 April 1912, Moroccan infantrymen mutinied in the French garrison in Fez, in the 1912 Fes riots
The Moroccans were unable to take the city and were defeated by a French relief force. In late May 1912, Moroccan forces again unsuccessfully attacked the enhanced French garrison at Fez.
In establishing their protectorate over much of Morocco, the French had behind them the experience of the conquest of Algeria
and of their protectorate over Tunisia
; they took the latter as the model for their Moroccan policy. There were, however, important differences. First, the protectorate was established only two years before the outbreak of World War I
, which brought with it a new attitude toward colonial rule. Rejecting the typical French assimilationist approach to culture and education as a liberal fantasy, Morocco's conservative French rulers attempted to use urban planning and colonial education to prevent cultural mixing and to uphold the traditional society upon which the French depended for collaboration.
Second, Morocco had a thousand-year tradition
of independence and had never been subjected to Ottoman rule
, though it had been strongly influenced by the civilization of Muslim Iberia
Morocco was also unique among the North African countries in possessing a coast on the Atlantic
, in the rights that various nations derived from the Conference of Algeciras, and in the privileges that their diplomatic missions had acquired in Tangier
. Thus the northern tenth of the country, with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, were excluded from the French-controlled area and treated as a Spanish protectorate
Although being under protectorate
, Morocco retained -de jure
- its personality as a state in international law, according to an International Court of Justice
statement, and thus remained a sovereign state, without discontinuity between pre-colonial and modern entities.
In fact, the French enjoyed much larger powers.
Under the protectorate, French civil servants allied themselves with the French colonists
and with their supporters in France to prevent any moves in the direction of Moroccan autonomy. As pacification proceeded, the French government promoted economic development
, particularly the exploitation of Morocco’s mineral wealth, the creation of a modern transportation system
, and the development of a modern agriculture sector
geared to the French market
. Tens of thousands of colonists entered Morocco and bought up large amounts of the rich agricultural land. Interest groups that formed among these elements continually pressured France to increase its control over Morocco.
World War I
France recruited infantry from Morocco to join its troupes coloniales
, as it did in its other colonies in Africa and around the world. Throughout World War I
, a total of 37,300-45,000 Moroccans fought for France, forming a "Moroccan Brigade
Moroccan colonial troops first served France in the First Battle of the Marne
, September 1914,
and participated in every major battle in the war,
including in Artois
, and Verdun
Historians have called these Moroccan soldiers "heroes without glory" as they are not and have not been given the consideration they merited through valor and sacrifice in the war. Brahim El Kadiri Boutchich
identified the participation of Moroccan soldiers in the service of France in WWI as "one of the most important moments in the shared history of Morocco and France
Lyautey and the Protectorate (1912–1925)
Marshal Lyautey, first resident general
of French Morocco. He represented French colonial interests while also upholding the authority of the sultan
, the first Resident-General
of the Protectorate, was an idealistic yet pragmatic leader with royalist
leanings, who made it his mission to develop Morocco in every sector under French influence. Unlike his compatriots, Lyautey didn't believe that France should directly annex Morocco like French Algeria
, but rather remodel and re-educate Moroccan society. He promised that, in this process, he would:
...offend no tradition, change no custom
, and remind ourselves that in all human society there is a ruling class, born to rule, without which nothing can be done...[we] enlist the ruling class in our service...and the country will be pacified, and at far less cost and with greater certainty than by all the military expeditions we could send there...
Lyautey's vision was ideological: A powerful, pro-French, Westernized
monarchy that would work with France and look to France for culture and aid. Unlike in Algeria, where the entire nobility and government had been displaced, the Moroccan nobility was included in Lyautey's plans. He worked with them, offering support and building elite private schools
to which they could send their children; one notable product of this schooling was Thami El Glaoui
Lyautey allowed the Sultan to retain his powers, both nominal and practical: He issued decrees in his own name and seal
, and was allowed to remain religious leader of Morocco; he was further allowed an all-Arab court. Lyautey once said of this:
In Morocco, there is only one government, the sharifian
government, protected by the French.
Walter Burton Harris
, a British journalist who wrote extensively on Morocco, commented upon French preservation of traditional Moroccan society:
At the Moorish court, scarcely a European is to be seen, and to the native
who arrives at the Capital [sic
] there is little or no visible change from what he and his ancestors saw in the past.
A farmer in a field of barley
in the Chaouia
, published 15 August 1917 in the magazine France-Maroc
Learning from experiences in Algeria
, where imprudent land appropriation, as Susan Gilson Miller put it, "reduced much of the native peasantry to a rootless proletariat," Lyautey solicited a select group of 692 "gentlemen-farmers"—instead of what he called the "riff-raff" of southern Europe—capable of serving as "examples" to les indigènes
and imparting French influence in the rural colonization of Morocco from 1917 to 1925.
The objective was to secure a steady supply of grain for Metropolitan France
and to transform Morocco once again into the "granary of Rome" by planting cereals primarily in the regions of Chaouia
, and Hawz
—despite the fact that the region is prone to drought. After a period of minimal profits and a massive locust swarm in 1930, agricultural production shifted toward irrigated, higher-value crops such as citrus fruits and vegetables.
The industrialization of agriculture required capital that many Moroccan farmers didn't have, leading to a rural exodus
as many headed to find work in the city
Roadmap of Morocco in 1919.
La Compagnie de Transports au Maroc
) was founded 30 November 1919 with the goal of accessing "all of Morocco." Its services ran along a new colonial road system planned with the aim of linking all major towns and cities.
An economic map of Morocco produced by the French Protectorate in 1928.
The Office Chérifien des Phosphates
) was created in 1920 to mine phosphates
out of Khouribga
, which was connected to the Port of Casablanca
by a direct rail line.
In 1921, 39,000 tons of phosphate were extracted, while almost 2 million tons were extracted in 1930.
The Moroccan laborers working in the mines benefited from no social protections, were forbidden from unionizing, and earned a tiny fraction of what Europeans earned.
Opposition to French control
With the outbreak of the First World War, France withdrew troops for service in Europe, and they lost more than 600 in the Battle of El Herri
. Over the following four years, the French retained most of their territory despite the Central Powers
' intelligence and financial support to the Zaian Confederation and continual raids and skirmishes reducing scarce French manpower.
After Armistice with Germany
in November 1918, significant forces of tribesmen remained opposed to French rule. The French resumed their offensive in the Khénifra area in 1920, establishing a series of blockhouses
to limit the Zaians' freedom of movement. They opened negotiations with Hammou's sons, persuading three of them, along with many of their followers, to submit to French rule. A split in the Zaian Confederation between those who supported submission and those still opposed led to infighting and the death of Hammou in Spring 1921. The French responded with a strong, three-pronged attack into the Middle Atlas that pacified the area. Some tribesmen, led by Moha ou Said
, fled to the High Atlas and continued a guerrilla war against the French well into the 1930s.
's reign, from 1912 to 1927, was turbulent and marked with frequent uprisings against Spain and France. The most serious of these was a Berber uprising in the Rif Mountains, led by Abd el-Krim
, who managed to establish a republic
in the Rif. Though this rebellion began in the Spanish-controlled area in the north, it reached the French-controlled area. A coalition of France and Spain finally defeated the rebels in 1925. To ensure their own safety, the French moved the court from Fez to Rabat
, which has served as the capital ever since.
Amid the backlash against the Berber Decree
of 16 May 1930, crowds gathered in protest and a national network was established to resist the legislation. Dr. Susan Gilson Miller cites this as the "seedbed out of which the embryonic nationalist movement emerged."
In December 1934, a small group of nationalists, members of the newly formed Moroccan Action Committee (كتلة العمل الوطني
, Comité d’Action Marocaine
– CAM), proposed a Plan of Reforms
(برنامج الإصلاحات المغربية
) that called for a return to indirect rule as envisaged by the Treaty of Fez
, admission of Moroccans to government positions, and establishment of representative councils. The moderate tactics used by the CAM to obtain consideration of reform – including petitions, newspaper editorials, and personal appeals to French.
World War II
However, the nationalists were disappointed in their belief that the Allied victory in Morocco would pave the way for independence. In January 1944, the Istiqlal Party
, which subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement, released a manifesto demanding full independence
, national reunification, and a democratic constitution.
Sultan Muhammad V
had approved the manifesto before its submission to the French resident general Gabriel Puaux
, who answered that no basic change in the protectorate status was being considered.
Struggle for Independence
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, with political and nonviolent efforts proving futile, the Moroccan struggle for independence became increasingly violent, with massacres, bombings, and riots, particularly in the urban and industrial center, Casablanca
Tangier Speech and Casablanca Tirailleurs Massacre
In the days leading up to the sultan's speech, French colonial forces in Casablanca
, specifically Senegalese Tirailleurs
serving the French colonial empire
, carried out a massacre of working class Moroccans. The massacre lasted for about 24 hours from 7–8 April 1947, as the tirailleurs
fired randomly into residential buildings in working-class neighborhoods, killing 180 Moroccan civilians. The conflict was instigated in attempt to sabotage the Sultan's journey to Tangier, though after having returned to Casablanca to comfort the families of the victims, the Sultan then proceeded to Tangier to deliver the historic speech.
Murder of Farhat Hached
Exile of Sultan Muhammad
The general sympathy of the sultan for the nationalists had become evident by the end of the war, although he still hoped to see complete independence achieved gradually. By contrast, the residency, supported by French economic interests and vigorously backed by most of the colonists, adamantly refused to consider even reforms short of independence. Official intransigence contributed to increased animosity between the nationalists and the colonists and gradually widened the split between the sultan and the resident general.
Muhammad V and his family were transferred to Madagascar
in January 1954. His replacement by the unpopular Muhammad Ben Aarafa
, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French protectorate both from nationalists and those who saw the sultan as a religious leader.
By 1955, Ben Arafa was pressured to abdicate; consequently, he fled to Tangier where he formally abdicated.
The French executed 6 Moroccan nationalists in Casablanca on 4 January 1955.
The aggressions between the colonists and the nationalists increased from 19 August – 5 November 1955, and approximately 1000 people died
Later on, faced with a united Moroccan demand for the sultan’s return, on a great scale, rising violence in Morocco, and the deteriorating situation in Algeria, Muhammad V was returned from exile on 16 November 1955, and declared independence on 18 November 1955. In February 1956 he successfully negotiated with France to enforce the independence of Morocco, and in 1957 took the title of King.
In late 1955, Muhammad V successfully negotiated the gradual restoration of Moroccan independence within a framework of French-Moroccan interdependence. The sultan agreed to institute reforms that would transform Morocco into a constitutional monarchy
with a democratic form of government. In February 1956, Morocco acquired limited home rule. Further negotiations for full independence culminated in the French-Moroccan Agreement signed in Paris
on 2 March 1956.
On 7 April of that year France officially relinquished its protectorate in Morocco. The internationalized city of Tangier
was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol
on 29 October 1956.
The abolition of the Spanish protectorate and the recognition of Moroccan independence by Spain were negotiated separately and made final in the Joint Declaration of April 1956.
Through these agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish possessions through military action
were less successful.
In the months that followed independence, Muhammad V proceeded to build a modern governmental structure under a constitutional monarchy
in which the sultan would exercise an active political role. He acted cautiously, having no intention of permitting more radical elements in the nationalist movement to overthrow the established order. He was also intent on preventing the Istiqlal Party from consolidating its control and establishing a one-party state
. In August 1957, Muhammad V assumed the title of king.
The French minted coinage for use in the Protectorate from 1921 until 1956, which continued to circulate until a new currency was introduced. The French minted coins with denomination of francs
, which were divided into 100 centimes
. This was replaced in 1960 with the reintroduction of the dirham
, Morocco's current currency.
The Algeciras Conference
gave concessions to the European bankers, ranging from a newly formed State Bank of Morocco
, to issuing banknotes backed by gold, with a 40-year term. The new state bank was to act as Morocco's Central Bank, but with a strict cap on the spending of the Sherifian Empire, with administrators appointed by the national banks that guaranteed the loans: the German Empire
, United Kingdom
, France and Spain.
established the Native Policy Council (Conseil de politique indigène
which oversaw colonial rule in the protectorate.
Under the protectorate, Moroccans were prevented from attending large political gatherings.
This was because colonial forces deemed they might "hear things beyond their capacity to understand."
French authorities also forbade Arabic-language newspapers from covering politics, which sparked claims of censorship.
A French postal agency had sent mail
as early as 1854,
but the formal beginning of the system was in 1892, when the Sultan of Morocco Hassan the first established the first organized state owned postal service called Sharifan post
, by opening several post offices throughout the country.
This initiative aimed to limit the foreign or local private postal services. After the establishment of the protectorate in 1912, the offices issued postage stamps
of France surcharged
with values in pesetas
, at a 1–1 ratio with the denominations in French currency
, using both the Type Sage
issues, and after 1902, Mouflon issue
inscribed "MAROC" (which were never officially issued without the surcharge). In 1911, the Mouflon designs were overprinted in Arabic
The first stamps of the protectorate appeared 1 August 1914, and were just the existing stamps with the additional overprint reading "PROTECTORAT FRANCAIS".
The first new designs were in an issue of 1917, consisting of 17 stamps in six designs, denominated in centimes
, and inscribed "MAROC".
Morocco had from 1912–1935 one of the largest 600 mm (1 ft 115
in) gauge networks in Africa with total length of more than 1,700 kilometres.
After the treaty of Algeciras where the representatives of Great Powers agreed not to build any standard gauge railway in Morocco until the standard gauge Tangier
Railway being completed, the French had begun to build military 600 mm (1 ft 115
in) gauge lines in their part of Morocco
There are approximately 1,514,000 Moroccans in France, representing the largest community of Moroccans outside of Morocco.
announced that there are approximately 755,400 Moroccan nationals residing in France as of October 2019, representing 20% of France's immigrant population.
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- Bensoussan, David (2012). Il était une fois le Maroc : témoignages du passé judéo-marocain. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-2608-8.
Last edited on 30 April 2021, at 12:12
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