A Brief History of The Kingdom of Morocco
At a crossroads of the African and the European continents, the Kingdom of Morocco has been, for centuries, a meeting point for the Arabo-Islamic culture and civilization as well as a land of tolerance , dialogue and openness.
In the Classical Antiquity era, Morocco experienced waves of invaders included Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines and Visigoths, but with the arrival of Islam, Morocco developed independent states that kept powerful invaders at bay.
The Idrissid Dynasty
The year 788 was marked by the birth of the first Muslim dynasty of Middle Eastern origin. In 791, the Moroccan State was created. Idriss I, descendant of Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Mohamed, pbuh, settled in Volubilis, founding the city of ‘Fez’, that was designated, after his death in 792, as capital of the Kingdom by his son, Idriss II, who succeed him. Idriss II took care of the construction of the city in 803, and died in 828.
The administration of the Kingdom was entrusted to his sons, then to his brothers, while the city of Fez prospered economically, and the city prevailed prodigious achievements, including the Quaraouyine Mosque (founded in 857-859).
The Almoravid Dynasty
Youssef Ibn Tachfine, Sultan of almoravid dynasty, built the city of Marrakech (future capital of the Kingdom) around 1070, then achieved of the political unification of Morocco and Andalus (Iberian peninsula). Through it, the Andalusian civilization spread in the Maghreb before conquering Spain. Ali Ben Youssef, his son, succeed him in 1106 to reign for 37 years.
The Almohad Dynasty
The Almohad Dynasty is a Berber dynasty from the High Atlas, their name comes from the Arabic “Al Mouwahidoune”, (those who claim the uniqueness of God.) Its founder was El Mehdi Ibn Toumart.
Abdel-Moumen, his disciple, took Marrakech as the capital, from which the construction of Koutoubia, then found the Almohad Empire, and succeed in unifying North Africa, but died in Rabat in 1163 before including Andalusia to his Empire. This glory returned to his successor Yacoub El-Mansour, victorious of the battle of Alarcos in 1195, against Castilla Kingdom e and the Spaniards.
The Merinid Dynasty
Berber dynasty (nomadic Zenetes from the Upper Moulouya Basin). This Dynasty chose capital Fez, proceed to the creation of Fez El-Jedid and the construction of several medersas, among which Medersa El-Attarine, the Medersa Abou Inane, or Medersa Mérinide in Salé. The Merinid took advantage of the decline of the Almohad Empire to take control of the cities of Fez, Rabat, Sale and the fertile plains of Saiss and Gharb. Subsequently, the Merinid Sultan Abu Youssef Yacoub seized the city of Marrakech in 1269.
As the supreme leader of the Marinid dynasty, Abu El-Hassan then tried to reconstitute the Empire around 1331, and conquered Tlemcen in Algeria and Tunis in 1347, but without managing to keep Spain and Algeciras in 1340.
In 1348, the Black Death plague and the rebellions of Tlemcen and Tunis marked the decadence of the Marinids who fell to repress the Portuguese and Spanish, allowing them, also through their successors the Wattassides, to settle on the coast. The resistance was organized around the brotherhoods and marabouts from which emerge the Saadian dynasty.
The Saadian Dynasty
Shereefian dynasty (“Chorfa descendants of the Prophet Mohamed, pbuh) from the Draa Valley, Marrakech was their capital. From 1578, Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi sat his reign on important military victories, including the victory of the “Battle of the Three Kings” in Oued El-Makhazine. The reign of Ahmed Al Mansour Eddahbi ended in 1603.
The Alaouite Dynasty
The Alawite Dynasty is descended from the Chorfa of Tafilalet, descendants of Imam Ali, who established themselves in the region, before establishing their authority over the whole country from 1666. The founder of the Dynasty and its spiritual leader Moulay Ali Cherif, as well as his successors (including Mohamed Ben Ali Cherif, proclaimed first king in 1640) reunited Morocco, thereby implementing a political and military strategy accordingly.
In 1672, King Moulay Ismaël exercised absolute power while continuing the work accomplished by his predecessors. The Sultan began by founding the city of Meknes, a city which he later designated as the capital of the Kingdom. After taking over Larache and Tangier, Moulay Ismaël eliminated the local political and religious powers and thus found the Cherifian Empire. His power will be extended to Senegal, and he ordered the establishment a network of fortresses throughout the territory. A network from which an army operated. He then devoted himself to establishing fruitful diplomatic relations. with foreign countries, especially in the time of Louis XIV and James II of England.
After the death of Moulay Ismaël in 1727, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah (Mohamed III) succeeded him. A fervent Muslim, he thought only of bringing peace and security to the country. He was therefore welcomed as a providential man, and his proclamation assumed the character of a true plebiscite. As soon as he was invested, he lightened the taxes, struck a sound currency and reconstituted a new army recruited from the Guich tribes.
Simultaneously, he worked to fortify the Moroccan ports and had took back Mazagan from the Portuguese (1769). He concluded peace with the Spaniards and an agreement on prisoners with Louis XV. Considering that Morocco needed to strengthen its relations with the outside world to compensate for the loss of the Triq-Sultan (strategic crossing), it signed trade treaties with Denmark, Sweden, England and the United States. On this occasion he received a very fine letter from George Washington, proposing to conclude a treaty of friendship between their two countries.
Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah was behind the foundation of Mogador, whose construction he entrusted to the French architect Gournot. No doubt he would have done much more if he had not been hampered by insufficiency of funds. When he passed away in 1790, Morocco was better off than it was before his reign.
Moulay Slimane Became then successor of Moulay Yazid Ben Abdallah, who would have reigned only for a period of two years (1790-1792). He drove out the Turks of Oujda, built several mosques and madrassas and did not fail also to come to the aid of Algerians during the Battle of Isly.
Following the support of the Sherifian Empire to the Emir Abd el-Kader of Algeria, Morocco then experienced a most difficult political crisis, leading to the military interventions of France in 1844 and Spain in 1859-1860 . Clashes continued until 1873 during the reign of Sultan Mohamed IV.
The Sultan Moulay Hassan I, successor to Mohamed IV, safeguarding his reign, consolidate his power by rallying the tribes of the High Atlas, and modernized the country while keeping its independence. Yet, foreign interventions, from Great Britain, Spain and France, deep-rooted Morocco’s indebtedness to foreign banks.
Moulay Hassan I died in 1894, and Sultan Moulay Abdelaziz succeeded him, reigning until 1907, the same year Moulay Hafid took over. Following the assassination of some European citizens, the French occupied Casablanca in 1907, while France and Spain were already appointed as mandatories of the new state bank of Morocco at the Algeciras conference in 1906.
General Lyautey left in 1925, and France limited the prerogatives of the Chérifien central power by proceeding more to direct management. The resistance was organized, consisting mainly of young urban elites. The second world war marked a truce between the nationalist opposition and France. During the war, King Mohamed Ben Youssef (Mohamed V), proclaimed Sultan of the Cherifian Kingdom in 1927, and therefore protector of all his subjects, fiercely defended the cause of the Moroccan Jews against the Vichy regime.
In 1944, the Manifesto of Independence was proclaimed; three years later, His Majesty King Mohammed V made a historic speech in Tangier. During the next five years, the negotiations with France fell and, in 1952, the crisis between the authorities of the protectorate and the nationalists led to insurrectional movements, while the Sultan was deposed, then exiled, along with the whole royal family in Madagascar, in 1953.
However, the setbacks in Indochina and the Algerian war, in 1954, prompted the French government to seek a political solution. The return of exile of the Sovereign will be in November 1955, to open the path of independence, recognized in 1956 by France, then by Spain.
King Hassan II (1961 – 1999)
As soon as he ascended the throne of his Ancestors on March 3, 1961, King Hassan II initiated a new constitution, which was approved overwhelmingly in a December 1962 referendum. This constitution knew reforms in 1971, 1972, 1992 and 1996.
During Hassan II’s reign, Morocco recovered the Spanish-controlled area of Tarfaya in 1958 and of Ifni in 1969 and the rest of the Sahara region, through the Green March, in 1975.
Economically, King Hassan II adopted a market-based economy, where agriculture, tourism, and phosphates mining industries played a major role. On March 3, 1973, he announced the policy of Moroccanization, in which state-held assets, agricultural lands, and businesses that were more than 50 percent foreign-owned-and especially French-owned-were transferred to Moroccans, subsequently, Moroccan-owned immediately were increased from 18% to 55%.
During his reign too, hundreds of dams of varying sizes were built and distributed throughout the Kingdom, with multiple functions of providing water for drinking, industry, irrigation, protection from flooding and soil erosion, protection from pollution, recreation and energy saving.
His Majesty The King Mohamed VI
Shortly after he took the throne On 30 July 1999, King Mohammed VI initiated a new policy to combat poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco’s human rights record. In February 2004, he enacted a new family code, or Mudawana, which granted women more power.
His Majesty also created the so-called Instance Equity and Reconciliation (IER), which was tasked with researching former human rights violations. This move was welcomed by many as promoting democracy.
In a speech delivered on 9 March 2011, His Majesty said that parliament would receive “new powers that enable it to discharge its representative, legislative, and regulatory mission”. In addition, the powers of the judiciary were granted greater independence from the King, who announced that he was impanelling a committee of legal scholars to produce a draft constitution by June 2011. On July 1st, voters approved a set of new political reforms.
The reforms included the following elements:
- The Amazigh language is an official state language along with Arabic.
- The state preserves and protects the Hassānīya language and all the linguistic components of the Moroccan culture as a heritage of the nation.
- The King is no longer “sacred or holy” but the “integrity of his person” is “inviolable”.
- All citizens have the freedom of thought, ideas, artistic expression and creation. Previously only free speech and the freedom of circulation and association were guaranteed.
- Since the enthronement of His Majesty Mohamed VI, many economic projects have been launched:
- Tanger-Med Port entered into service in 2007 with a total capacity of over 3 million containers (8 million in 2016), in addition to professional real estate of over 2000 hectares, complements the overall port infrastructure consisting of 11 ports meeting international standards.
- The highway network is connecting the 10 biggest cities.
- Thanks to an Open Sky policy, the 15 international airports in Morocco (largest airport hub in the region) are used by a multitude of international companies and are connected to major cities and economic platforms of world affairs.
- A wide network of Economic Activities Zones (Integrated Industrial Platforms, free zones, clusters…)
- Telecommunications infrastructure meets international standards. Three global operators (wired phone, mobile, Internet and data), the telecommunications sector in Morocco achieves every year an intense and sustained activity: 129% mobile penetration and 16 million Internet users (2013).