100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

French Rout Rebel Forces In Morocco

In 1911 Sultan Abde Hafid of Morocco was besieged by rebels in Fez. He is pressured by France and members of the French pro-colonial lobby to ask for French troops to protect the country. In May 1911 French troops arrive in Morocco. This does not sit well with other European powers who fear Morocco will become a French protectorate. Germany threatened to respond with force and sent the gunboat AGADIR to Morocco in July 1911 which alarmed Great Britain. What began as an exercise by Germany intended to drive a wedge between France and England results in increasing British fear and hostility towards Germany and to draw Britain closer to France. Negotiation started between France and Germany to cool down the situation diplomatically. In November1911 the Second Moroccan Crisis ended with the signing of a Franco-German peace treaty. This ends Germany’s threat to go to war over Morocco and Germany withdrew all claims to North Africa. Morocco was partitioned between France (as a protectorate) and Spain (as the colony the Spanish Sahara).

The “Convention of Fez” was signed in March, 1912 and stipulated that a French Resident-General should be sent to Morocco with authority to act as the Sultan’s sole representative in dealing militarily with the other powers. The rebels that threatened the Sultan of Morocco to begin with resent that Morocco is now a French protectorate and more Moroccans come to the side of dissident forces. A few days after the signing of the convention by the Sultan an uprising more serious than any that had gone before took place in Fez. In April 1912 Moroccan soldiers massacred their French officers and the population of Fez rose against the European civilians. France appointed General Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey Resident-General in Morocco. When he reached Fez it was besieged by 20,000 Berbers. The French drove them out of the city. The outskirts of the city were rapidly fortified by the rebels. French troops killed 600 Moroccan tribesmen who oppose the protectorate. General Lyautey ordered artillery to be used against the lesser armed opposition and totally decimated them. The rebels were routed and their siege of Fez lifted.

Ahmed al-Hiba is the son of a religious leader in the Sahara and leads a general uprising in the south Morocco. Al-Hiba is proclaimed Sultan in Taroudant, Agadir and the Dades and Draa regions. With his tribal army he entered Marrakesh in August 1912 and was proclaimed Sultan there also.

On September 6, 1912 5,000 French troops crushed an uprising of 10,000 Moroccan troops in the south of Morocco. Ahmed al-Hiba, had imprisoned French military officers and the French Consul in Marrakesh. He promised that “French bullets would turn into water and French shells into watermelons.” Within two hours, 2,000 Moroccan tribesmen lay dead and thousands more were wounded while others fled through the other side of the city. 4 French soldiers died and 23 were wounded.

French troops enter Marrakesh, Morocco
September 1912

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