Courtesy Reuters

The Three Moroccos

THE modern history of Morocco may be said to have begun in 1904 with the Anglo-French Agreement of that year. For some time previous the Moorish Empire had been breaking up. A strong Sultan, Mulai Hassen, had died in 1894 leaving as heir to his throne one of his younger sons, Mulai Abdul Aziz, a mere boy. For several years the power lay in the hands of the Grand Vizier and it was not till his death in 1901 that the young Sultan emerged from the precincts of the secluded palace to take over the reins of government. Well-intentioned, weak, misled, and shockingly robbed, Mulai Abdul Aziz was incapable of maintaining order over the turbulent tribes whom a long period of repression and extortion had rendered only too ready to revolt. His plight was not rendered any the happier by the fact that the two powers most interested at that period in Morocco--England and France--were united by no ties of friendship. France, intent upon rounding off her great possessions in North Africa, coveted the rich but almost unknown country that lay between the Algerian frontier and the Atlantic Ocean. England, desiring nothing for herself in Morocco--unless it was Tangier, which she knew could never be hers--was firmly determined to combat all France's schemes to obtain a preponderating influence in the country. Accordingly the British Government strongly supported the young Sultan in resisting the constant French pressure. Germany and Spain, jealous of France's African possessions, gave England a moderate measure of support. But the bolstering up of the decaying Moorish Government could not save the situation. Tribal revolt, misgovernment, corruption, disturbances on the Algerian frontier and near the Spanish "Presidios" on the Mediterranean coast, indicated the end of Moorish independence. The British Government realized at length that no assistance that it was prepared to give--and the assistance had always been more in advice than in substance--could prolong for any but a very short period the life of the decaying empire.

There remained but one purpose

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