Spanish ambition to colonise the world started with the rise of Isabella I of Castile and intensified with her marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon, which received the unwavering support from the Church and the Pope himself in Rome to destroy Muslims and colonise the World, centuries before Hitler came to power and use the same fascist ideas to enslave humanity. They were able to bring down the Amazigh Kingdom of Granada in 1492. By 1494, the Spanish Monarchs adopted the Treaty of Tordesillas which divided the globe into two hemispheres of influence reserved to Spain and Portugal. As a result of the ambition of the Spanish monarchs, Moroccan territorial integrity became threatened even before the fall of Granada. It started when Henry III of Castile (4 October 1379 to 25 December 1406) began the colonisation of the Moroccan Amazigh Guanche territories of today’s Canary Islands in 1402. In fact the amazigh Guanche tribes fought these invasions in a long war that intensified during the period extending from 1478 to 1483 in the Gran Canarias and from 1492 to 1493 in La Palma and from 1494 to 1496 in Tenerife. However, Ceuta was taken by the Portuguese during the reign of John I in 1415 and later ceded to Spain in 1668, but Melilla was captured by the Spanish Pedro de Estopiñán in 1497. Sidi Ifni was under Spanish rule from 1476 to 1524, when it was known then as “Santa Cruz de Mar Pequeña.” Whereas Villa Cisneros was founded in 1502 in actual Western Sahara but these earlier invasions did not materialise and the region was returned to Morocco under the Saadian rulers in 1524. However, the latter region was conceded to Spain after the Spanish Moroccan war of 1860. The colonisation process intensified further after the Berlin Conferences in the XIXth century and the “Scramble for Africa” in the early XXth century gave it some European fascist legitimacy. In effect, the consequence of the Berlin Conferences was war, destruction, avarice and repression, in other words, the darkest side of European colonialism that nurtured violence and greed that the Church legitimised. It was its main motor with its devilish spiritual guidance or simply religious extremist blindness if not an extension of the Crusades and Christian religious fundamentalism that is now haunting the world with another ‘déjà vu’ religious fundamentalism now resurrected under Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Baghdadi terrorist groups that sprung and spread from el Qaida that the West helped to set up in the first place in Afghanistan. For Morocco, the real and first occupation of the country started with the 1912 Fes Protectorate Treaty and France decided, without Moroccan approval, to negotiate Moroccan territories with Spain after the 1912 Treaty was established and France became the “master” of foreign policy in the region. Instead of protecting and ensuring Moroccan territorial integrity, it allowed Francisco Bens to occupy Cape Juby on 29 July 1916 in Western Sahara when all previous attempts at remaining in the region failed. Contrary to the original wishful thinking of European unity against the world, they soon, like scorpions, turned against each other for greed and personal interests. The new arrangement to colonise Africa and the Middle East failed in essence, as did the policies of exclusion known as ‘Divergence’ that started in 1750 and lasted to 1950s when the Europeans started to have serious doubts and mistrust of each other leading to serious conflicts and destruction of a magnitude never attained before in Europe. This suspicion of each other led to devastating effects for the Africans and within Europe itself leading to the barbarous atrocities of the First and Second World Wars. Nevertheless, the last war liberated, with a major contribution from the Africans, not only Fascist Europe, but gave gradual and total independence, if not only another facet of neo-colonialism or the beginning of new realities of ‘Convergence’ to affect the whole of the African continent: Morocco got its independence of Southern Morocco from France in 1955, Northern Morocco from Spain in 1956, Tarfaya in 1958, Sidi Ifni in 1969 and finally the Western Sahara in 1975, but Melilla, Ceuta, the Guanche territories of the Canary Islands and other Islands around the Moroccan coasts remain to be liberated.
Moroccan territorial integrity became more threatened since France occupied present Algeria in 1830 and eventually expelled the Turks from this terra nullius. Ever since, Morocco was under threat of occupation from both France and Spain and to a lesser extent from England and Germany. The Europeans became more preoccupied and competing against each other to legitimise their positions when Germany convened the Berlin Conferences which were followed by various secret agendas with open meetings, be it the Picot-Syke Accords, the Balfour Declaration or others. This rush to colonise the Middle East and Africa required a formal understanding between European nations and the need to reach an agreement that would limit conflicts between them. The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 or Berlin West Africa Conference was designed to achieve that goal, and the British added their own case for the Middle East by promoting and approving the 1917 Balfour Declaration, promising a homeland to Jews at the expense of the Palestinians, the source of today’s wars and insecurity in the Middle East and by extension to the world. The conference was held amongst major European powers to negotiate as well as formalise the basis on which to settle any future claim to territories to be colonised in Africa. As a result, Morocco was divided in accordance with the spheres of influence, hence the Spaniards seized the opportunity to assign themselves first, the Northern parts dominated by the Rif Mountains with the control of the whole strategic Northern and Southern Mediterranean shores around the Strait of Gibraltar as well as isolate and neutralise the British on the other side. The remaining Moroccan Mediterranean was limited to around 20 km of the Eastern Mediterranean shore in the Region of Berkane, with no port facilities or posing any real threat to Spain or navigation in the region. The Spanish border was set at Safsaf on the Moulouya River, now Pont Hassan II, which the flow serves as a natural border, since the Romans, extending to the mouth of the River at Saidia. The Spanish authorities acted in the same spirit of the periods of the Reconquista and the Inquisition, thus reviving the Crusades1 that Elisabeth and Ferdinand initiated in the first place. It was further expanded by Philip II and III with the blessing of the Pope in Rome2. Then, they consolidated their grip on the Southern part of the country’s Western Sahara they partly and occasionally occupied since the XVth century for its valuable and strategic shores. This area was made famous of the legendary Barabary piracy and slavery in which Spain and England also played a major role expanding their business to the Americas where some of them made their fortune in slavery trade, piracy and the squandering of other peoples’ gold. The region also served as a strategic link between the Moroccan Guanche Amazigh Canary Islands, the Strait of Gibraltar with the control of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic sea routes securing logistically piracy and slavery trade. All that remained was the tactical approach on how to gradually infiltrate physically central Morocco now that a quasi-legal framework was designed and approved by the Europeans at the expense of the Africans.
The 1884 Berlin Conference opened the way to claims and counter-claims of territories that did not belong to the Europeans. They started to penetrate and consolidate different regions of the kingdom and as a result, several wars were fought over the territory including the Sahara. The Berlin Conference encouraged and gave the green light to Spain to occupy the Western Sahara in 1884. As a response to this occupation, the Sultan of Morocco engaged the local people, as happened in the Beni Snassen region and across the country, to stand up against the invaders and fight the ‘infidels’ new insurgents throughout Morocco, from Tangiers to Mauritania. The invaders’ aggression continued to 1901 and several subsequent battles followed in 1902 when France was also involved. Though, by 1900 Portugal and Britain had withdrawn entirely from Morocco including the settlement of the Mackenzie’s shack, as Ben Kirat writes, “England for a short period was able to secure a commercial post near Tarfaya in the Moroccan Sahara when it sent in Donald Mackenzie, a Scotsman, to set up Casa Mar in 1878 only to be negotiated between the Sultan Abdelaziz of Morocco and England in 1895, thus proving Moroccan sovereignty over the region, if proof was needed, and Mackenzie received £50,000 in compensation to leave the Moroccan Saharan shores.3” Only Spain, with its Mediterranean presidios of Ceuta and Melilla, the Western Sahara and the Amazigh Guanche Canary Island on the Atlantic, actually possessed any territory there. It was only after the 1904 entente cordiale agreed between France and the UK, following the 1884 Berlin Conference, that Morocco came under the influence of France, and the British secured Egypt under the Syke-Picot Agreement, an arrangement which upset the Germans leading to the Tangier Crisis when Emperor Guillaume II disembarked in that city on 31 March 1905 raising the temperature leading to the 1906 Algeciras Conference gathering twelve European states and Theodore Roosevelt was the mediator. The Germans were also present and were angered by the outcome which recognised French and Spanish influence over Morocco; this led to the Second Agadir Crisis or the Panther Sprung of 1911. All this was in fact about territory and not about any European altruism and finally France made a deal with Germany and was given territories in the Congo and Cameroun, the original source of corruption and greed, devoid of any humanism or Human Rights. The 1912 Protectorate Treaty signed with France changed the history of Morocco with Tangier being internationalised in 1925, and ruled over the next 30 years by a series of occupiers including the Portuguese, the Spanish, the British, and the Americans who also acquired there their first ever possession outside the United States.4
As a result of the 1906 Algeciras Conference, the French eventually occupied Oujda and Berkane with Casablanca as early as 1907. This gave rise to the 7 April 1907 French-German Algeciras Agreement on controlling Morocco’s Banking, Customs and Policing. France engaged its army in different parts of southern Morocco in 1908-09 occupying the Adrar region in the Sahara. This military engagement in southern Morocco, after the Beni Snassen and Casablanca, represented a logistical political map that prompted one of the root causes of the eventual Fes Protectorate Treaty of 1912. This treaty led to the division of Morocco into a French Zone, extending from the Lower Moulouya River in the North–East to the Confines of Saidia Oued Kiss remaining the only French-Moroccan window on the Mediterranean within the Berkane Province. Larache represented the other flank in the West on the Atlantic, extending south to the northern borders of present Western Sahara. The Spanish Zone was established in the rest of Northern Morocco on the lines drawn by France and they eventually and gradually occupied the Western Sahara as a whole, from the artificial lines drawn by France in the South, leaving present Mauritania to France. This division was not part of the Protectorate Treaty of Fes and France reached an agreement with Spain without any consultation with the Sultan of Morocco. Nevertheless, the Moroccans of Western Sahara were still engaged in wars with Spain and remained under the influence of the Moroccan Sultan as dictated by the traditional Bay’a, thus keeping his authority throughout and especially since the Almoravid Sanhaja Sahraoui Dynasty came to power. The two regions occupied by Spain, like all regions of Morocco, were run by their local people in the name of the sultan but divided between Bled Siba and Bled el Makhzen. The latter representing the territories under the control of the Establishment or what could be analysed in modern political science as a religious centralised system of government, within the federal system principles first established by the Amazigh Awraba Dynasty under Imam Idris, a fugitive from Baghdad after his family originating in Arabia was exterminated by the Abbasid Khalif. The former is a territory that was a form of an independent Federation or Confederation of modern times, functioning outside the central system. In post-1939, the Spanish occupied Morocco was administrated by Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, under the Khalif of the Sultan both based in Tetuan, as well as Maa El A’inain family originating from the Sahara with a long list of Sahrawi Moroccan governors and caids. They all paid their due respect, by the traditional Bay’a, to show their loyalty to the Sultan of Morocco during A’shura and the Prophet’s birthday celebration. These delimitation of power was clear: the Sultan through allegiance is proclaimed as Emir el Mouminine, with the sacrosanct Ulama’s advice and praise to safeguard the unity and spiritual aspect to subdue society, and the duties of the state were left to the local amazigh people to run their own affairs according to their cultures and tradition. This Moroccan model was the origin of secularism separating the spiritual from the secular, long before French secularism (laicity) was officially adopted in 1905, when Islam and Mosques were left to the Sultan and politics to the people or Jema’a (Tribal Assembly or Council). All these events are documented in Rabat, Madrid, Paris and personal libraries of the families of the many people involved. So, in effect, Morocco’s present autonomy for Western Sahara reflects the system already in existence since the beginning of Bled Siba and Bled el Makhzen, the former operating on the periphery dealing with secular affairs, whereas the latter following the principle of el Bay’a to the centre providing spiritual guidance and Uma orientation. This system can be traced to Amazigh-Awraba-Kenza-Dynasty when Mohammed Awraba Idris III introduced, in some limited areas, the notion of modern Federalism or autonomous tribal Douars, villages and towns to give his brothers some districts to administer. However, an aspect of a greater magnitude is also seen in the Berghouata and Nekor kingdoms who united the country once again, after the ‘739-843 Amazigh Rebellion’, and ruled the major parts of Morocco to the arrival of the Almoravids and the Almohads who extended and completed the unity of the Kingdom and established the Great Moroccan Empire. It was left to local people, with the Regional Governor, to deal with their own affairs at regional level; that is regional autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty at the centre in Marrakech, Fes or Rabat. This is the principle that is now proposed to the Southern Regions of the Moroccan Sahara as modern understanding of Central and Regional democratic governments dictate. It is based on Shura with the locals conducting their own affairs and Bay’a to Amir el Mouminine, the Commander of the Faithful, to ensure unity, as also expressed in the writings of Professor Mohammed Lahbabi. The Awraba-Idrissid downfall started when they deviated from these principles and sought to share power with the outsider Shi’a Ismaili in Egypt at the expense of the Imazighen. This prompted the local Awraba and other Amazigh tribes to chase a new faction supporting the Shi’a Idrissid when they tried to ally themselves with the Shi’a Fatimid in 985. This also provoked the anger of the Umayyad disintegrating Caliphate of Cordoba leading to Taifas and eradication. The Caliph encouraged and received the help of the local Imazighen who deposed the Idrissid and executed all those they caught and for ever erased them and the Fatimid Shi’a as well as any remaining Idrissid or Arabs found on Moroccan soil. As a reminder, the Almohads may be seen in what is now referred to as ‘ethnic and religious cleansing’ when they destroyed and expelled all Shi’a and Arabs that were still in Morocco, just as they hardened their attitudes towards non-Muslims in Al Andalus. Anyone left, according to Bernard Lugan5 and the late Earnest Gellner, form the SOAS in London6, was integrated into an amazigh tribe, adopted both the Amazigh language and the culture of the local people, married and overtime diluted within the tribe. In some rare cases, the reverse was also true where small tribes developed the Arabic language and now they think they are Arabs. The concept of “Arabophone” is deliberately ignored for political reasons and personal advantages that emerged with “Arab Nationalism” in the past but awareness is getting stronger and stronger to rewrite Moroccan African Amazigh and Middle Eastern History. The emphasise in Morocco is more on Africa and Amazigh as the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, made clear in many of his speeches in Morocco and in the African continent, especially when he addressed the African Union Conference that readmitted Morocco as a full member in 2017. The king was also absent from the Arab League Conferences since 2005 and refused to have the 27 Arab Conference in Morocco and was hosted by Mauritania with a very low turnout and a dismal outcome. He refused to attend the 28th Arab League Conference held in Jordan in March 2017, when King Abdellah made a special visit to the King of Morocco to officially invite him in person, but the King changed his mind in the last minute. Equally, the Moroccan foreign minister, Mezouar, refused to refer to the Maghreb Union as ‘Arab” when he talked of the Great Maghreb in an Arab League Meeting which raised the eyebrows of the many so-called ‘Arabs’ of Mesopotamia/Sumer, pharaohs, Assyrians and Phoenicians, with an insignificant number of Bedouin Arabs from Hijaz present at the Conference. The Great Maghreb is now the official Moroccan appellation, as the Moroccan Constitution dictate and Morocco is an African Amazigh Country and not ‘Arab’, but Arabophe as well as Francophone, Anglophone and others with an Amazigh-African ethnic origin and the Amazigh language is the mother tongue of all Moroccans. Certain opportunists in Morocco, just as colonialism did, are still paying tribute to some pretenders, not dissimilar to the pretender to the throne, Rogui Bouhmara of his true name Jilali Ben Driss el Youssefi Zerhouni, to gather support and use their influence in the country in exchange for privileges, freehand outs and being protected by sycophant Ulama and second rate historians as well as some pretenders who are members of the Makhzen or what is referred to as the Establishment in the Anglo-Saxon milieu, acting as true freemasons, keeping their secrets hidden from the Moroccan gullible and acting against the insider Sahraoui African Moroccan Amazigh original inhabitant of the country.
In effect, Morocco reversed its previous policy and when the colonialists extended their ambition at occupying central Morocco, the Sultan started to look east for help to modernise and equip its army rather than north, thus reversing the agreement it had with Carlos II to repulse the Ottoman expansion from Algeria to Morocco. As a result of this modernisation process, the many attempts made by the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, the British, and others to penetrate the interior of the country, all failed. This was, in fact, the opposite of what happened in Algeria and the Middle East who were taken by the Ottomans from 1517 to the end of the First World War, and Morocco only succumbed to colonialism in the first years of the twentieth century. No European nation, including the Ottoman Empire, had been successful in establishing more than isolated trading posts on Moroccan shores, thus avoiding western occupation by rejecting any direct co-operation. It was also because of Morocco’s diplomatic wisdom when it engaged in modernising its army, seeking military help from feuding European countries, at one stage, and from the Ottomans, at another, thus succeeding in keeping the enemy at bay. Wars were common amongst nations and Morocco succeeded in playing them one against the other and was successful in stopping any serious European infiltration, especially from Spain and Portugal, into entering deeper Morocco, which the population would have never accepted. It called on the expertise and help of the Spanish-Portuguese at first, then on Turkish advisers who proved less useful to Morocco when they started to turn west to modernise their army. This prompted Morocco to sign agreements with Italy, Germany and finally the country settled for the British captain stationed in Gibraltar, ‘Caid’ Maclean to join the Moroccan army in 1877. He was promoted to major first, then colonel and to become General to command the Sultan’s forces, with the title of ‘Caid’. He was knighted in England as Sir Harry “Caid” Maclean in 1901. He modernised the Moroccan army and used all that was modern at the time to prepare the Moroccan units for any eventuality and were ready to participate in the First World War in which they fought with great courage and professionalism, though General Maclean lost his son and many of the Moroccans he trained. He later returned to Britain where he died peacefully in 1920.
French Incursion into Moroccan Sahara
Even though the first colonial historians tell us that there were no borders between northern and southern Morocco, which is also common sense, historiography inform us that there were direct contact on spiritual, commercial and political levels with the whole of Greater Morocco. Furthermore, the absence of borders is proof of the unity of the two regions as part and parcel of the same coin and why should there be borders in the same country? So, it was simple, draw a straight line and call it Western Sahara, not as a political entity but only as a geographical region devoid of people, politics, culture or religion and become the property of Spain, just as the stars become the property of the stargazer produced by Saint Exupéry’s Little Prince that Dakhla inspired him to write a masterpiece7. France was also inspired to extend its influence in Africa and Greater Morocco that included Mauritania was the next trophy for France to achieve its ambition in the region after it occupied Algiers in 1830. It set its policy in motion and created conditions that encouraged friction between Morocco and France that was only waiting to explode.
As we have seen the French aggression in Western Sahara goes back to at least 1902. Further trouble for France were generated by the Great nationalist family of Ma el-Aynan who revived the Moroccan Sahraoui uprising against the French in early 1910 when the French were trying to expand their influence to North West Africa setting Mauritania as their final objective. Though Ma el Aynan was eventually defeated but his sons and the tribes continued their struggle throughout the occupation. History records that only when the Holly city of Smara was destroyed for the second time in 1934 by another joint action led by two major powers against one great African power that Spanish and French forces regained some kind of peace returning to the region, but the struggle for freedom and liberty continued to the final liberation of the region from the invading forces. The French renewed their aggression on Moroccan Sahara when their troops entered the occupied Spanish Sahara on 10th February 1958 to help the Spanish Army against the Moroccan Liberation army who restricted the Spanish coloniser to three coastal towns, Villa-Cisneros, El Aioun and Cap-Juby. The French called their intervention ‘Operation Ecouvillon’ with 5000 strong men, 600 Vehicles and 70 airplanes to complement the 9000 Spanish soldiers. The French pretext was that the Liberation movement threatened Mauritania which was seen as part of their ‘Afrique occidentale française’ (A.O.F), when there was already a secret deal with Spain to eliminate the Liberation Army and ease pressure on Mauritania which was also proclaimed by Morocco and defended indirectly by the Liberation Army. The French used the incident that took place in January near Fort-Trinquet (Bir-Moghrein) and proclaimed the right to pursue the attackers when a military pact with Spain was prepared in secret several months before. The incident at Fort-Trinquet was used as a pretext to execute their secret pact. The Liberation army was overwhelmed by firepower coming from the French who entered the region from Mauritania and Tindouf, and the Spanish army coming from Seguiet el Hamra and Rio de Oro in addition to the help provided by the French airpower that facilitated the task for the Francoist fascists to retake Smara. By 25 February, the victory of this battle was celebrated by the Spanish army, but the war continued to the final victory of the Moroccan Sahraoui with the Liberation and the integration of the Western Sahara to the mother country, Morocco, in 1975.
The Moroccan Sahraoui struggle for freedom was no different from the involvement of the Amazigh tribes of the Beni Snassen to defend their territories in the regions of Berkane, Figuig, Oujda as well as lending their support to Abdelkader of Algeria. The first serious confrontation with France started when the Sultan of Morocco, responding to the people of Tlemcen, intervened and occupied the town in December of the same year as well as designating a new Khalif for the region. The people of Tlemcen were part of Morocco and swore their allegiance to the Moroccan Commander of the Faithful, but when faced with French and Ottoman opposition, the sultan finally withdrew his troops in favour of Emir Abdelkader. The support for Abdelkader was never in doubt and was renewed when the French attacked the Emir in Tlemcen and forced him to find his way to the Moroccan border town of Oujda. The sultan called on the people of Beni Snassen to defend their borders against the French invaders before the sultan’s military reinforcement arrived. Faced with this threat, France declared its first open war on Morocco when they bombed Tangier in retaliation in 1844, as discussed below.
As a strategic region, Western Sahara became a target of the French military who joined the Spanish to subdue the Smara tribes and thus secure French borders with Algeria and stop any advance of the Moroccan Liberation Army towards either Marrakech or Mauritania. These elements of historical facts point to the sovereignty of Morocco over Western Sahara and the Tindouf region when Algeria was ‘terra nullius’ since the Arab Bedouins assassinated Kahina and the Algerian territories remained ever since partly Moroccan under different Amazigh rule since the Awraba, Almoravids, Almohads and Merinids, partly Ottoman and became fully French since 1830 with hardly any role left for her in history only as an occupied territory. It was left to the sultan, Abderrahmane (1822-1859) to send troops to Algeria to help the people of Tlemcen against the new ‘infidel’ invaders but when the French and the Ottoman protested, the Beni Snassen army withdrew in favour of Emir Abdelkader. Abdelkader continued his rebellion but failed to make any notable progress and finally the French chased him from the region and sought refuge in Morocco in 1844. As a result, the Beni Snassen tribes and the sultan’s armies joined Abdelkader’s remaining units along the Beni Snassen-Algerian borders in a pact to organise and plan an invasion to infiltrate into Algeria. France reacted to this existential threat by bombing Tangier on 4 August 1844, and Essaouira on 15 August 1844, while the Moroccan army or rather the Beni Snassen tribes were defeated at the Battle of Isly on 14 August 1844, earning Marshal Bugeaud the title of Duke of Isly. As a result of this defeat of Abdelkader on Moroccan soil, the sultan promised to keep peace with the French and that Abdelkader would no longer be ‘welcomed’ in Morocco and should he return there, he would be expelled.
The French conflict did not distinguish between the different regions of Morocco as they all represented a challenge and a strategic threat to French forces. French military strategists regarded French military action in Spanish Morocco as the other side of the same coin. French aggression has been recorded throughout the country from Tangier to Berkane and Oujda to reach as far as Mauritania. The fear of the French army from the Moroccan Amazigh is no secret to anyone. The Rif war taught a lesson to both Spain at Anoual and Lyautey lost his fame at Oued Ouargha when he came to the rescue of the Spanish defeated army. His forces were massacred and Lyautey relieved from duty and retired. Ben Kirat writes, “Lyautey was given the green light to participate by setting up camp on the Rif border with some 20 000 soldiers under his command at Ouargha River. By July 1925, Lyautey lost 5000 soldiers and the Ouargha Battle became synonymous for the French as was the Anoual battle for the Spaniards where they lost 14000 soldiers dead and 1000 were taken prisoners of which only around 350 survived and freed. This marked the end of Lyautey who was replaced by the fascist, Marshal Petain, who was not a diplomate but happy to gas the Riffians, as he later send French Jews to German concentration camps and gas chambers.”8 As we have seen, Morocco had already intervened in Algeria to help Amir Abdelkader and fight side by side with his forces to liberate Algeria occupied by France in 1830. This action cost dearly to Morocco, as it marked the beginning of Franco-Moroccan direct conflicts that lasted till 1955. The French responded by leading their first major attack on Morocco in 1844. In fact the French had their own agenda to infiltrate Morocco on several occasions since and even before their occupation of Algeria in 1830 with an ambition to expand their influence in the whole of the North African region from Morocco to Tunisia; the latter became a French Protectorate in 1881. The Beni Snassen gave support to the people of Tlemcen in 1830 against the French and as a result they became part of the conflict. After his early defeat against the French, Abdelkader was forced to retreat to Morocco when his army was overcome by the superiority of the French firepower, as outlined above. As a refugee in Oujda, he was helped by the Beni Snassen and together fought the French at the battle of Isly River crossing the city of Oujda in August 18449. Abdelkader capitulated and later chose voluntary exile in 1847 when he was offered a well inflated compensation by the French to leave the country. He lived happily ever after in exile away from Algeria to his death. However, as the Beni Snassen continued their skirmishes on the border region, the French decided to extend their war to Morocco and, under the command of Lyautey, they finally occupied militarily the region of the Beni Snassen that included Berkane, Ahfir, Tafoghalt, Ain Sfa and Oujda in 1907 and remained there till independence in 1955 and beyond. Whereas people of the Rif, they first taught many lessons to Spain and then to Lyautey himself causing his early retirement and peace only returned after Abdelkrim’s surrender to Pétain in 1925. But the Rif never stopped its fight against the colonisers, be it in Morocco, in Algeria or in Indochina. Abdelkrim managed to escape from the French in Cairo where he settled and continued his fight and asked the Nador Riffians to provide all the help required for the Algerian FLN to set up its Headquarter there, and continue its fight from their major military camp based at the Kirat’s family farm in Borj Ouaoulout in Berkane. The farm was taken over by the French colonialist and given to ‘Kraus’ and at independence, it was passed on illegally to the French-Algerian Belhaj family who were close collaborators and friends of the French ‘colons’. Other camps were also set up in Ahfir, Oujda, Jerada, Figuig, as well as in other border towns to penetrate on nightly basis deep into Algeria to continue an armed struggle for independence. Furthermore, Morocco, as a whole, continued to help the FLN with training facilities, especially the one in Berkane where Nelson Mandela and many African leaders received their training at the Kirat Farm in Borj Ouaoulout. Morocco also received the Algerian refugees of the 1950s as part of the Big Moroccan family until Algerian gained independence in 1962. Unlike the hardship and suffering the Moroccans endured when they were expelled from Algeria in 1975, the Algerians who left Morocco, after Algeria gained independence, were allowed to leave Morocco with all their rights and dignity preserved. The question now raised is ‘with friends like these who needs enemies?’ It is Algeria, in fact, that created the Polisario but the Moroccans are capable to assert themselves, be it with the Europeans or with the less significant corrupt and defunct regime in Algeria or South Africa’s Zuma. “The Sahara is Moroccan and will remain so until the end of time.”
1 It is wrong to assume that ‘The Clash of Civilisation’ is yet to come as deliberately put forward by Huntington, but the religious clash of civilisation started with Crusades, reinforced by the Reconquista, the Inquisition, Opus Dei and modern nationalism and Zionism…
2 Both the Crusades and the Inquisition were blessed and praised by the Pope in Rome, thus sanctioning the slaughtering of any one who holds a different believe than the one dictated by Catholic Church in Rome …The same believes have been kept ever since to reach the Franco eugenic regime and now inherited by many of the right-wing party of Spain, el Partido Popular or Popular Party (PP), who stand accused of major corruption scandals exposed by Podemos, Ciuadadanos and the PSOE, as well as by the majority of the ordinary public.
3 Ben Kirat, THE HISTORY OF MOROCCAN IMAZIGHEN AND THE ARAB MYTH, 1st Edition in paperback, Oxford, Joshua Horgan Partnership, 2017, p. 139
4 David S. Woolman, Rebel in the Rif: Abdelkrim and the Rif Rebellion, (Oxford: OUP, 1969), p.2.
5 Bernard Lugan, History of Morocco, éd. Perrin et éd. Critérion, coll. «Pour l'histoire», Paris, 2000; Histoire du Maroc des origines à nos jours,
6 Gellner, Ernest, & Micaud, edited by, Arabs and Berbers, (London: Duckworth, 1973); Gellner, Ernest, Saints of the Atlas, (London: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1969)
7 Saint Exupéry has also inspired France to start a direct flight from France to Dakhla, Morocco, in November 2017
8 Ben Kirat, THE HISTORY OF MOROCCAN IMAZIGHEN AND THE ARAB MYTH, 1st Edition in paperback, Oxford, Joshua Horgan Partnership, 2017, p.135
9 See above, “The French bombarded Tangier in 1844 as a punishment and a warning for the Beni Snassen involvement in the conflict...”