Morocco since 1957, in long form the kingdom of Morocco, formerly the Cherifian Empire, is a unitary regionalized state located in North Africa. Its political regime is a constitutional monarchy. Its capital is Rabat and its largest city Casablanca. Geographically, it is particularly characterized by mountainous or desert areas and is one of the only countries with Spain and France to have shores on the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Its population is nearly 34 million inhabitants (2014 census) and its area of 446,550 km (47.51 inhabitants / km2), or 710,850 km2 including Western Sahara ex “Spanish Sahara”, considered as a territory not self-governing by the United Nations, of which it de facto administers about 80% and which it claims in its entirety, just like the Polisario Front. Its culture has been Berber-Arab for several centuries, and has spread mainly in the Maghreb and in the South of Spain. Moroccans are mainly of Muslim faith. With a presence of hominids dating from around 700,000 years and inhabited since prehistoric times by Berber populations, the Moroccan State, as a separate entity, was founded in 789 by Idris I. In addition, he is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Organization of La Francophonie , Group of 77, Union for the Mediterranean and candidate for accession to ECOWAS. The Moroccan constitution defines Islam, Arabity and Amazighity as “fundamental components” of the identity of the Moroccan people and the country as the land of Islam. It is the religion of the State, which guarantees the free exercise of worship to all.
Prehistory and protohistory
The first traces of a hominid presence on Moroccan territory date from around 700,000 years ago. From this so-called Acheulian period, we found a certain number of tools, notably in the Chaouïa plain and more precisely in the immediate vicinity of the Casablanca agglomeration. In addition to tools, a number of human fragments have been discovered, notably in the Thomas quarries, near Casablanca (mandibles, maxillae and cranial fragments of Homo erectus). From the Mousterian era (120,000 to 40,000 years BP), the most explicit site is that of Jbel Irhoud located halfway between the cities of Marrakech and Safi and where two hominid skulls, tools associated with the Levalloiso-Mousterian industry as well as large remains of animals that have now disappeared.
The Aerial era (60 to 40,000 years BP19) brought its share of pedunculated tools found in many caves located on the Atlantic coast (Dar Soltane 2). However, this period was especially marked by deep climatic upheavals having led to an unprecedented desertification of the Moroccan territory as well as the rarefaction or even the disappearance of a large number of animal and plant species. This dynamic was, however, thwarted by the natural bulwark constituted by the Atlas and Rif chains, whether in Morocco or in the rest of the Maghreb. The arrival of Homo sapiens in the Maghreb before the Epipaleolithic has been demonstrated since the Aerial industries are not the work of Neanderthal man, whose range is exclusively Eurasian, but indeed Homo sapiens with archaic characteristics. The oldest remains of Homo sapiens in the world were discovered in Morocco at Djebel Irhoud in June 2017 and date back more than 300,000 years. About 21,000 years ago, the Iberomaurusian civilization was born. It is characterized by rather advanced funeral rites and by a refinement of the tools used. However, it is not yet a question of agriculture. The Taforalt cave in the Oujda region corresponds to the largest deposit of the time. This civilization is maintained and spreads over the whole of the Maghreb before gradually mixing towards the ninth millennium BC with the Capian populations, ancestors of modern Berbers. The first elements discovered corresponding to this period (Neolithic) date from around 6000 years. These testify to a sedentarization already advanced as well as a relative mastery of agricultural techniques.
From the 3000s, the bellflower culture developed in Morocco. Consequently, the country enters the Bronze Age and one attends the diffusion of a specific black ceramic whose presence is attested in a certain number of burials of the Rifaine region. In the eleventh century BC. AD, the bold Phoenician traders, who came from present-day Lebanon, reached the Moroccan coasts and in particular the Atlantic coast. They founded numerous trading posts which served as bases for many Roman and then Arab cities (the main ones being Tingis and Lixus, current Tangiers and Laraches), as well as Thymiateria (Mehdia), Chellah, near Rabat, Azama and Rusibis, and Cerné , located in Essaouira or further south in Dakhla. It was during this period that the very first settlements of Jewish populations in Morocco were dated. The progressive autonomy of Carthage benefits the trading posts founded on the Moroccan coasts to the extent that they will be more developed due to the relative proximity with the new African capital of the Phoenician thalassocracy originating in Tyr. The influence of the Carthaginian civilization is felt strongly among the indigenous populations, whose organization is structured in parallel. Thus, the Berber tribes gradually federate, founding states like the kingdom of Mauretania (under the reign of Baga), first confined to the north of present-day Morocco, and whose sovereigns bear the title of “aguellid”, like the kings of Numidia. The south of the country is populated by the Gétules and the western Ethiopians, the west by the Atlanteans and the east by the Numides of the people of the Massæsyles. The Moors are the heirs of a very ancient, Atlantic-Mediterranean culture, as evidenced by the cromlech of M’zora which can be linked to comparable megalithic monuments like those of Ħaġar Qim in Malta and Stonehenge in Great Britain . Mauretania is not unknown in Greek mythology, which locates the fabulous garden of the Hesperides there.
Due to the support provided by Mauretania to the Roman Empire during the destruction of Carthage, there will be a close friendship between the two States (hence the ousting of the Numidian king Jugurtha, enemy of the Romans). King Bocchus was even awarded the title of Friend of Rome by the Roman Senate and gained the esteem of consul Caius Marius. Under the reign of Juba II, Mauretania became a vassal kingdom, renowned for its exports of purple, cedar wood and maritime products, rich enough to produce its own gold currency. A brilliant urban civilization develops, influenced both by the Carthaginian heritage and by the artistic currents coming from Hellenistic Greece and Lagid Egypt. These influences from the eastern Mediterranean basin are no doubt due to the patronage of Juba II’s own wife, Queen Cleopatra Selene, who is the daughter of Marc Antoine and Cleopatra VII. Juba, a learned king, explores the High Atlas as well as Madeira and the Canary Islands (then called Fortunate Islands), and part of the Sahara. He also does not hesitate to trace his genealogy back to the demigod Hercules. The opulence of Mauretania stirs up the lusts of Rome, which Ptolemy, son and successor of Juba II, will tragically suffer the consequences.
During a trip to Lyon in Roman Gaul, the last Mauritanian king is indeed assassinated on the orders of the emperor Caligula. This murder led to two years of unrest (resistance led against the Roman legions by Aedemon, a freed slave from Ptolemy), then an annexation of Mauretania (42 AD) to the Roman Empire which is designated from then on under the name of Maurétanie tingitane for the part in the west of Moulouya, officially decreed imperial province of military rank by Claude Ier successor of Caligula. Only the northwest of present-day Morocco is effectively under Roman domination, the rest of the territory being controlled by independent tribes, in particular gétules like that of the Autololes. The Romans founded prosperous colonies in Volubilis (not far from present-day Meknes), as well as in Banasa and Thamusida in the Gharb plain. Nevertheless the administrative capital remains Tingis (future Tangier), seat of the procurator, the governor of the province which has the status of Roman knight. A great autonomy is granted to the most loyal tribes, in particular to the Baquates (as evidenced by the famous tables of Banasa), but the constant pressure of the southern peoples then the internal crises in the Empire will gradually get the better of Mauretania Tingitane. At the end of the second century under the reign of Diocletian the province is reduced to the region of Tingis and Ceuta, to Sala (present-day Salé) and to the Purpuraire Islands of Mogador, then attached to the diocese of Hispania and therefore included in the prefecture of the Gauls.
During the Roman period, cities, colonies and municipalities under Roman or Latin law, acquired civic and utilitarian monuments (temples, forums, basilicas, triumphal arches, thermal baths, and even theaters in Lixus and Zilil), and private residences decorated with works of art (sculptures, mosaics) which belong to the Roman-African elite. The cultivated plains are shared by the local aristocracy, which is enriched in particular by the exploitation of the olive tree whose extracted oil is exported to the neighboring provinces and makes the wealth of Mauretania Tingitane. The more distant courses are left to nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. The ports of Tingis and Sala experience intense commercial activity. The imperial authorities recruit military auxiliaries among the Moors, intended to serve in particular in the cavalry. The most famous of them, Lusius Quietus, son of an amghar (Amazigh tribal chief), had a brilliant career under the reign of Trajan. In the name of the Empire, he fought the Dacians and the Parthians, and conquered Armenia, the Media and Babylonia, then pacified Judea in the grip of anti-Roman revolts. The prestige of Lusius Quietus becomes such that he plans to seek the succession of Trajan with the support of a part of the Imperial Senate, before being eliminated by Hadrian. His assassination led to an uprising in Mauretania Tingitane, his home province where his popularity was great among the local tribes. In 429, nearly 80,000 Vandals from Germania crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and landed at Tingis, but in their race towards Carthage and towards proconsular Africa, these invaders controlled only the Mediterranean coast of Mauretania. A century later, the Byzantines commanded by General Bélisaire, annihilate the Vandal Kingdom and seize part of the old province of Tingitane, however, clashing with the Moors of King Garmul, whose power extends from Altava to Volubilis. The government of Constantinople, under Justinian I, created the province of Maurétanie Seconde in northern Morocco, which included the cities of Tangier, Ceuta, Lixus, as well as Byzantine Spain, and was directly dependent on the Exarchate of Carthage. This Byzantine occupation, perpetually threatened by the Visigoths of Spain and by the Moors, will however remain until the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb at the beginning of the 8th century.
From the Arab-Muslim conquest to anarchic unrest
In 649, begins the conquest of the Maghreb by Arab troops. It was 35 years later that these troops truly entered Moroccan territory. The Berber tribes installed as well in the mountainous foothills of the Atlas and the Rif as in the fertile Atlantic plains will support initially the Byzantines installed on the Mediterranean coasts which they will prefer to the Arabs in particular because of diplomatic errors. The destruction of the Byzantine installations around the year 700 will finally get the better of the Berber resistance which will then convert to Islam brought by the Arab conquerors. From the beginning of the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, the Kharijites originally based in Iraq send representatives to the Maghreb in an attempt to rally the Berber populations. The Berbers accustomed to the system of egalitarian community and poorly supporting Arab domination, end up finding in Kharijism a formidable means of political protest. In 739, Maysara, mandated by the people of the Maghreb Al Aqsa, led a delegation to Damascus to the Caliph Hicham to present the grievances of the Berbers: equality in the sharing of the spoils and cessation of the practice of gutting the sheep to obtain the fur of fetuses (sheep being an essential element of the pastoral economy of the Berber tribes).
The complaints reach the Umayyad Caliph who does not act, which triggers an insurrection in Tangier. Maysara seizes the city, kills the governor Omar Ibn Abdallah and proclaims himself caliph. He succeeded in preventing the landing of an Arab army sent from Spain. The governor of Spain Uqba ibn al-Hajjaj intervenes in person but fails to retake Tangier, while Maysara seizes the Souss of which he kills the governor. Then Maysara, behaving like a tyrant, is deposed and killed by his family, and replaced by Khalid ibn Hamid al-Zanati. Under his command, the Berbers were victorious over an Arab army on the banks of the Chelif in early 740. The Arab troops having been beaten, Hichām sends troops from Syria led by General Kulthum ibn Iyad. They were beaten by the Berbers on the banks of the Sebou in October 741. The Egyptian governor Handhala Ibn Safwan intervened in his turn and arrested the two Kharidjite armies during two battles at Al-Qarn and El-Asnam (present-day Algeria). that they threatened Kairouan (present-day Tunisia) (spring 742). When the fall of the Umayyads of Syria (750) occurs, the west of the Empire completely escapes the central Damascene power. Spain returns to the Umayyad emirs of Cordoba and the Maghreb breaks up into several small independent states (from 745 to 755).
The history of the Idrissids is inseparable from the person of Idris I, descendant of Ali and Fatima, son-in-law and daughter of the prophet of Islam Muhammad, who fled the massacres of which his entourage and his family was a victim, took refuge in the Middle Atlas, in Volubilis, an ancient fallen Roman city. Obtaining the approval of the local tribes, he founded in 789 the city of Fez in the Saïss plain, of which he made the capital of his new kingdom proclaimed in 791. After his assassination by an envoy of the Caliph Haroun ar-Rashid, his son Idris He succeeds him after a regency. He extended his capital as well as his kingdom and advanced beyond Tlemcen, taken by his father in 789 and subjecting many Zenata tribes. His successor Mohammed will build the prestigious Quaraouiyine mosque, which houses the oldest university still active in the world. During this period, Fez became one of the main intellectual centers of the Arab world and attracted eminent scientists and theologians. The Idrissid kingdom regularly extends its borders but finds itself threatened by the powerful Fatimid dynasty in the east. Indicated caliphs of Cordoba at the beginning of the tenth century, the Idrissides will also undergo pressure from the Umayyads in the north. In 985, the Fatimids and their vassals from Algeria pushed the Idrissids to take refuge in Al-Andalus. From the middle of the tenth century, the weakening of the Idrissides due not only to external pressures but especially to internal dissensions led to a revival of activity by the large Berber tribes who founded and conquered numerous cities. The states of Sijilmassa in the south and Nekor in the north are maintained and gaining momentum during this period.
Kingdom of the Berghouata (between the 8th and 10th centuries)
The Barghawata (or Barghwata or Berghouata) form a Berber emirate, belonging to the group of the Masmoudas ethnic group. After the kharijites failed in their rebellion in Morocco against the caliphs of Damascus, they establish (744 – 1058) a kingdom in the region of Tamesna on the Atlantic coasts between Safi and Salé under the aegis of Tarif al- Matghari. The peculiarity of this state is to create a purely Berber religion, based on a holy book inspired by the Koran, and directed by a theocratic government fixing the rituals of a new worship borrowing at the same time from Islam, Judaism and to ancient local beliefs. The Barghwata maintained their supremacy in the region of the Atlantic plains for four centuries, and maintained diplomatic and commercial relations with the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, which probably saw in them potential allies against the Fatimids and their Zenite allies. It seems that out of the twenty-nine tribes that make up this kingdom, twelve actually adopted the Barghwata religion, the seventeen others having remained faithful to Kharijism.
Kingdom of Sijilmassa (758-1055)
An emirate founded by the Zenetes emerged in the Tafilalet region from 758. Led by the Midrarid dynasty (whose founder is Semgou Ibn Ouassoul), it took the city of Sijilmassa as its capital. This kingdom officially professes the Kharidjism of suite rite but finally recognizes from 883 the religious supremacy of the Sunni caliphate of the Abbasids. The Midrarides, however, devoted themselves to maintaining an alliance with other Kharidjite states, such as the kingdom of the Rostemids of Tahert, and to establishing a fruitful caravan trade in gold with the kingdom of Ghana, at the time master of the most important gold deposits. from West Africa. The emirate of Sijilmassa thus reached its peak in the ninth century thanks to its role as a hub for the trafficking of precious metals, and its fame thus extended to the Mediterranean countries and the Middle East. It is precisely this position of outlet for African gold which excites the lusts of the Umayyads and the Fatimids who compete for its domination. It was finally the Almoravids who seized the Midrarid kingdom in 1055. Subsequently, the founding of Marrakech definitively overshadowed the prestige of Sijilmassa.
Idrissid dynasty (789-985)
The history of the Idrissids begins when a Shiite Arab prince from the family of Ali (fourth caliph of Islam) and his freedman Rachid Ben Morched El Koreichi take refuge in the Middle Atlas. Fleeing the threat of the Abbasids (who had massacred Alides and their Shiite partisans during the battle of Fakh near Mecca), they stayed in Egypt before settling in Walilah (Volubilis), under the protection of the Berber tribe of Awerbas. Managing to rally the tribes to his cause, Idriss is invested Imam and founds the city of Fez in 789 under the name of Idris Ier. It was the start of the Idrissid dynasty. Idris I is assassinated by an emissary of the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rachid, a certain Sulayman Ibn Jarir Achammakh, who had in fact been advised by the powerful barmecid vizier Yahya ben Khalid. Not suspecting that the wife of Idris I (Kenza al-Awrabiya) is pregnant, the masters of Baghdad think that the threat has been overcome. But a few months later, Idris II was born. His education was entrusted to the freed from his father, Rachid. After eleven years under the tutelage of Rachid, Idriss II is proclaimed Imam of the believers. Over the years, his sense of politics became clear and he managed to unite a larger number of populations. The power of the military (which is becoming more professional and in which Qaysites from the northern tribes of the Arabian Peninsula engage in particular) allows it to develop and extend the core of the principality which it had inherited. The Idrissid kingdom thus encompasses the entire portion of territory extending from Tlemcen in the east to Souss in the south. It seems that the Idrissid dynasty, at least in its beginnings, professed Shiism and more precisely Zaïdism, reputed to be the most moderate of the Shiite rites.
Considering itself cramped in Walilah, Idriss II leaves the ancient Roman city for Fez, where he founds the district of Kairouanais (also called Al-Alya) on the left bank of the wadi Fez (Idris Ier was established on the right bank, the Andalusian district). The Kairouan people come from Eastern Arab and Arab-Persian families (originally from Khorassan) established in Ifriqiya since the Abbasid era. They are expelled from Kairouan because of the political persecution inflicted on them by the Aghlabids and in particular Emir Ibrahim I. The Andalusians who settle in Fez are opponents of the Umayyads, originally from the Cordovan suburbs who had revolted against the Umayyad emir of Al-Andalus Al-Hakam I (in particular from the suburb of Rabed, from where the name of Rabedis attributed to the elements of this first wave of Andalusian immigration to Morocco).
The Idrissid kingdom is undergoing an important phase of urbanization, illustrated by the creation of new cities like Salé, Wazzequr, Tamdoult and Basra, the latter inspired by Iraqi Basra. These new centers are centers of diffusion of Arab culture and vectors of Islamization in deeply Berber country. The founding of the Al Quaraouiyine mosque in 859, which also houses a university of the same name, gives Fez an influence which will make the Idrisside city participate in the Islamic Golden Age of science, arts and letters, alongside metropolises as well. as prestigious as Cordoba, Cairo and Baghdad. At the same time, the Vikings from distant Scandinavia and led by Hasting and the Swedish prince Björn Ironside, attracted by the potential resources of North Africa, distinguished themselves by their devastating incursions on the coasts of Morocco (especially in the Assilah and Nador regions). The Andalusian historian and geographer Al-Bakri will designate the Viking invaders by the term of Majus and will particularly relate their abuses against the kingdom of Banu Salih of Nekor in the Rif. In 985, the Idrissids lost all political power in Morocco and were massively exiled in Al-Andalus. Settled in Malaga, they gradually recover their power, to the point of creating a dynasty during the time of the taifas, the Hammudites. The latter go so far as to claim the caliph function in Cordoba to replace the Umayyads who fell in 1016.
The Zenet Uprisings (954-1059)
Around 954 and according to Ibn Khaldoun, three large zenet tribal confederations rose and seized several cities and regions of the Maghreb el Aksa (Arab appellation of Morocco), namely Fez, Oujda (founded in 994 by the Maghraoui Ziri Ibn Attia) , Salé (founded during the 10th century by the Banou Ifrens, Sijilmassa), or even the regions of Souss and Haouz, and this following the weakening of the Cherifian Arab dynasty of the Idrissides. During the conquest, these three Zenet confederations, the Maghraouas, the Banou Ifrens and the Meknassas, each founded a kingdom around their area of influence but fairly quickly, their points of view diverged, causing instability throughout the territory. The various Maghraou tribes were sometimes allied with the Umayyads sometimes with the Fatimids. The Banou Ifrens remained resistant to any alliance with the Arab powers. The Fatimids take advantage of these divisions between the three Zenet confederations and send the Zirids of Ifriqiya to conquer the Maghreb el Aksa (present-day Morocco). The Ziride named Ziri ibn Menad succeeds in conquering part of present-day Morocco. In 971, his son Bologhine ibn Ziri asserted his sovereignty over most major cities. During this period, the Berghouatas (Masmouda and Sanhadja tribal confederation) will therefore be attacked by the Zirids. The Maghraou ask for help from the Umayyads. The latter finally agree to help the Zenites to reconquer the territories, in particular those of the Maghraouas of the western Maghreb. Bologhine ibn Ziri is forced to retreat before the Umayyad army from Al-Andalus by sea and who settles in Ceuta. Subsequently, Ziri Ibn Attia of the Maghraou enters into conflict with the chiefs of Banou Ifrens and Meknassas. A power struggle will be fierce between the Zenite factions. The Banou Ifrens attack the Berghouata and take several times Fez, a stronghold of Maghraoua. The latter will finally restore the balance of the Maghreb el Aksa. The reign of the three Zenite confederations will end with the arrival of the Hilalians and the Almoravids around the 11th century in 1059. The Zenites will be ousted by the Almoravids of the Maghreb el Aksa.
Historically, the Zenetes were the sole masters of roads and commerce in the region. This period is characterized by a certain preponderance of tribal democratic practices, as was already the case two centuries ago during the Kharijite revolts. The Zenites have demonstrated through their history that they can negotiate with all the tribes in the Maghreb. Several alliances and treaties were developed during this period. Construction has developed and several cities have experienced a real boom (construction of mosques, kalaâ, ksours, etc.). In 1068, the three “dynasties” fell as much because of the manifest zeal of certain chiefs as because of their determination to engage in holy wars.
Almoravid dynasty (1055-1147)
The Almoravids come from the Berber Sanhadjas tribes of the Lamtounas and the Guzzalas who nomadized in the Saharan desert between the Mauritanian Adrar and the Tafilalet. These warrior tribes are structured within a powerful religious movement, under the leadership of preacher Abdellah ben Yassin. Their goal is to establish Sunni Islam of Malekite rite throughout the Muslim West (Al-Andalus and North Africa). Thus comes their name of al-Murabitoun, that is to say the fighters of the ribat, a fortress of the holy war erected against their animist enemies. The Almoravids are victorious in their war against the black kingdoms of Tekrour and the empire of Ghana. They thus seize Ghana and its capital Aoudaghost, at the head of a large region producing and exporting gold, and manage to go up the Saharan caravan tracks to Tafilalet in the 1050s, where they put an end to the existence of the emirate of Sijilmassa under Zenet domination. The heads of the Almoravids are successively Abou Bakr ben Omar then Youssef ben Tachfine. While “useful Morocco” is beset by the lusts of neighboring political entities as well as internal divisions, three large Berber tribes share the Saharan regions. The Lemtouna, Massoufa and Goddala (or Gadala, distant descendants of the ancient Gétules), all three members of the Sanhadja confederation and Islamized two and a half centuries earlier, waged warfare and wandered regularly towards the south where they threatened the empire of Ghana and other Sudano-Sahelian animist states. From the Lemtouna tribe, the emir Yahya ben Ibrahim went around 1035 to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca. There, he became aware of the need to perfect the Islam of his fellows in the Adrar regions. While stopping at Kairouan, he tried to obtain logistical support from local religious eminences, but to no avail.
This Almoravid domination manifests itself in a symbiosis of Andalusian, West Maghreb and Saharan identities, paving the way for the emergence of a Hispano-Moorish civilization straddling the Iberian Peninsula and the Western Maghreb. The buildings remaining in Marrakech, Tlemcen and Algiers thus show a strong influence of the Cordovan artistic school adapted to the aesthetic canons of North Africa. In the economic field, the Almoravid State is distinguished by its mastery of the flow of gold, which it controls the production areas and the transport routes, from Ghana to the Mediterranean basin. The Almoravid gold dinar, called marabotin, circulates on all major commercial markets as the reference currency. After the death of Youssef Ibn Tachfin in 1106, his son Ali ben Youssef succeeds him, but the dynasty is already disputed both in Spain and in Africa. The ruling family takes in fact the pleasures and delights of a refined court life inherited from the Caliphs of Cordoba and the taifa emirs of Al Andalus. At the same time, the populations are subjected to the strict dictatorship of the Maliki cadis and the local exactions of the military leaders of Sanhadja origin who sometimes rely on militias of Christian mercenaries like that of the Catalan knight Reverter. Such a political conjuncture promotes widespread discontent throughout the severely weakened Almoravid empire.
Almohad dynasty (1147-1269)
Mohammad Ibn Toumert is the future self-proclaimed Mahdi of the Almohad movement, former Moroccan empire, and the son of an amghar, village chief of the Harga tribe in the High Atlas. Very early animated by a religious zeal, he undertook from his youth of multiple trips bringing him to visit Baghdad, Cairo and perhaps even Damascus where he discovered the full extent of the Muslim tradition, and in particular Sufism. Quickly, he maintained a deep aversion to the narrowness of Malikism reigning supreme in his homeland. It was in 1117 that he returned to the Maghreb, via Tripoli, then Tunis and finally Béjaïa where his pious sermons galvanized the crowds. In Melalla, he became friends with Zénète Abd El Moumen. It is in the company of the latter that Ibn Toumert d’Almohades (“Al-Muwahidûn”), the Unitarians. It was in Tinmel, in the heart of the very isolated N’fis valley, that he established his “capital”. His sermons met a considerable echo and he openly proclaimed his intention to gang up all the rebellious mountain tribes against the Almoravids. His growing aura raises day by day more concerns on the part of the Almoravids who launch against him in 1121 a military expedition commanded by the governor of Souss, Abu Bakr Ben Mohammed El-Lamtouni. The expedition is literally overwritten. Following this disappointment, his desires faded for a time but in 1127 (or 1129), a new expedition arrived in the foothills of the High Atlas around Aghmat in the hope of striking a big blow in Hintata country, stronghold of the “Unitarian” doctrine. But Abd El Moumen and El Béchir thwarted this plan and taking advantage of the effect of surprise, they even managed to besiege punctually Marrakech, Almoravid capital. However, their weaknesses in lowland combat prompted them to take refuge in all haste. El Béchir died followed a few months later, in September 1130, by Ibn Toumert.
Abd El Moumen first secretly succeeded the founder of the sect and favored a policy of alliance with the Atlas tribes. To do this, he played not only on his Zenetic origins but also on what remained of the circles of initiates that his predecessor had founded. From 1140, an intense campaign allowed the Almohads to attract the favors of the oases of the south. Taza then Tétouan are the first big cities to fall. Following the death of Ali ben Youssef in 1143, he captured Melilla and Al Hoceïma, making northern Morocco his real logistical base. The death of the fearsome Reverter in 1145 followed in the same year by that of Tachfine ben Ali allows the Almohads the respective captures of Oran, Tlemcen, Oujda and Guercif. Then follows the long and trying siege of Fez which will last nine months during which Abd El Moumen is personally responsible for taking Meknes, Salé and Sebta. The conquest of Morocco will finally end in March 1147 with the capture of Marrakech, capital of the now deposed Almoravid empire and in which the last king Ishaq ben Ali will be ruthlessly killed that day. To celebrate this victory, Abd El Moumen built the famous Koutoubia mosque on the ruins of the old Dar El Hajar.
In a rather unprecedented way, the first military efforts of Abd El Moumen, now inducted as Caliph of the Muslim West (to mark his religious independence from the Eastern Abbasids) are turning to the east of the Maghreb, under double jeopardy of the Normans of Sicily led by Roger II (who took control of Djerba and Mahdia and threaten the prosperous Béjaïa) and of the Bedouin tribes (Banu Hilal) sent from Upper Egypt by the Fatimid rulers of Cairo, furious to see Zirides and Hammadids escape their control. The operations launched proved largely successful since the Bedouins were completely crushed in Béjaïa then Sétif in 1152. In 1159, a powerful land army was raised from Salé, seconded by a fleet of seventy ships, forcing the Normans to entrench themselves on Sfax and Tripoli. Thus the Almohad Empire extended in the late 1150s from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Sirte, encompassing all of Muslim Africa west of Egypt.
In Andalusia the end of the Almoravid period allowed the resurgence of the taifa reinos and a revival of vigor of the Christians. In 1144 the Castilians temporarily seized Cordoba. To the west, Lisbon and Santarem are taken by the Portuguese. Almería is also taken by the Aragonese for a whole decade. Back to the wall, the taifas are forced to make new calls to the masters of the Maghreb. Thus, even before the capture of Marrakech by the Almohads, Jerez and Cadiz offered themselves to the latter. In the wake of the capture of Marrakech, expeditionary corps allow the conquest of the entire south of the peninsula (Granada, Seville, Cordoba …) then Badajoz. In 1157, Almería was taken over. Abd El Moumen finally died in 1163 in Salé. His son Abu Yaqub Yusuf succeeded him, first recognized in Seville and then in Marrakech. He will strive until his death in 1184 to reign as a true “enlightened despot”, anxious to loosen the noose of religious orthodoxy weighing on the Maghreb. Under his impulse flourish arts much more flourished than under the previous dynasty. Architecture in particular reached its peak, resulting in the construction of the Giralda in Seville, freshly honored with the status of Andalusian capital, as well as the Hassan tower in Rabat (whose minaret was never completed) and the Koutoubia in Marrakech, all three built on a substantially equivalent model. In other registers, the Alhambra palace is erected on the heights of Granada by the Nasrids, and the Agdal Gardens are planted in Marrakech which also has a Caliph Casbah sheltering the palaces of the Almohad sovereign ( see the article Almoravid and Almohad art). It was also under the Almohads that the brilliant philosopher Averroes (his real name Ibn Rûshd) lived as well as Moses Maimonides who nevertheless went to exile in Cairo in order to be able to practice his religion freely (he was of Jewish faith). The intellectuals of the Almohad caliphate honor ancient philosophy as everywhere else in the Muslim world, and more particularly that of Aristotle whose rationalism seduces Averroes in particular.
When Abu Yaqub Yusuf died, the Almoravids, who had remained masters of the Balearic Islands, left to carry the sword where the Normans once raged. They tear Algiers, Miliana, Gafsa and Tripoli from the Almohads and subsidize Bedouin tribes of Ifriqiya as well as the Turkmen mercenaries Ghuzz, who will go to raid all over the Middle Maghreb and even descend to the oases of Drâa. Matted by the vigilant militias of a certain governor Abu Yusf, the Bedouin tribes will then be settled in western Morocco, in the former Berghouata country where they will contribute to the effort to Arabize the plains of Gharb and the Chaouia. As for the Ghuzz, they are incorporated into the Almohad army to form units of elite archers. After the victory of Alarcos during which Alfonso VIII of Castile was beaten by the sovereign Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, the last Almoravid troublemakers were crushed in southern Tunisia. It’s the Almohad golden age.
Muhammad an-Nasir succeeds his father in 1199. On July 16, 1212, his army of 30,000 men was routed by a coalition of nearly 62,000 Christians from France, Aragon, Catalonia, County of Portugal , León and Castile. It is the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa that history will remember as the pivotal event of the Reconquista. At the same time, an-Nasir receives a strange offer of allegiance from John Landless, then in cold with the Christian sovereigns of the European continent, to make the distant kingdom of England a vassal of the Almohad caliphate of Marrakech. The authority of the Almohads over their empire will be durably weakened by this debacle, to the point that Muhammad an-Nasir will renounce his throne the following year, yielding it to his son. At 16, Yusuf al-Mustansir therefore rose to the throne. Devoid of authority, he quickly sees the middle Maghreb escape him. The same is true in Andalusia where the Almohad governor of Murcia claims a regency and crosses the strait to make it known. In Seville, Al-Mamoun does much the same. The taifas rise from the ashes and impose Malikism. In Marrakech even the sheikhs wish to proceed to the election of a new caliph, leaving the young sovereign no other choice than fleeing for a time. His son Abd al-Wahid al-Makhlu succeeded him in 1223. He died of strangling the same year.
The sheikhs of Marrakech will then proceed to the election of Abu Muhammad al-Adil. The Hafsids, named Abû Muhammad ben ach-Chaykh Abî Hafs, formerly vizier of Muhammad an-Nasir, declared their independence in 1226, under the leadership of Abu Zakariyâ Yahyâ. The death of Abu Muhammad al-Adil will mark the beginning of the Kingdom of Castile’s interference in Moroccan affairs. Ferdinand III of Castile will support Abu al-Ala Idris al-Mamun while the sheikhs will support the son of Muhammad an-Nasir, Yahya al-Mutasim. It was the first who took the ascendancy for a while, managing to take Marrakech and massacre the sheikhs. He renounced the Almohad religious doctrine in favor of Malikism and agreed in payment of his debt to build the Notre-Dame church in Marrakech in 1230. The building was destroyed two years later. In 1233, his son Abd al-Wahid ar-Rachid took over Marrakech and drove the Bani Marin, future Merinids from Fes (the latter made the city and its neighbor Taza pay a tribute since 1216), enabling Morocco to be reunited. In Andalusia, Cordoba fell into the hands of Ferdinand III of Castile from 1236. Valence followed suit two years later, then it was Seville’s turn in 1248. Meanwhile, Abu al-Hasan as-Said al-Mutadid will succeed to restore a semblance of unity over Morocco but will accumulate failures against the Merinids whose progress is irresistible over northern Morocco. For thirty years, the Almohads will survive, entrenched on the Haouz plain and paying tribute to their northern neighbors. In 1269, Marrakech fell. In 1276, it was Tinmel’s turn. A century and a half later, the Almohad loop is closed and the dynasty at the origin of the powerful Western Caliphate disappears definitively.
During the crusades The Almohad Empire, under the reign of Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, established a strategic partnership with the Egypt of Sultan Saladin. The culmination of this relationship is the embassy of Abu Al Harith Abderrahman Ibn Moukid sent by Saladin to the Caliphal Court of Marrakech, which embodies the alliance between Almohades and Ayyoubides. This mission leads to the participation of the Almohad fleet in maritime operations against the Crusaders (on the coasts of the Near East as well as in the Red Sea). After the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, part of the holy city is repopulated with populations coming from the Almohad Empire who will found and live in a specific district of which one of the best known vestiges is the Maghrebian Gate.
Merinid dynasty (1269-1465)
Morocco’s political regime is a constitutional monarchy, the current sovereign of which is King Mohammed VI, of the Alaouite dynasty, established since 1666 and one of the oldest in the contemporary world. Morocco is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Union of the Grand Maghreb, La Francophonie, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Union for the Mediterranean and the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States. Morocco is the only African country not to be part of the African Union until January 30, 2017 where it ends up reintegrating it. In 1987, Morocco tried unsuccessfully to join the EEC, and in 2008 was granted “advanced status” with the EU. On May 15, 2009, he joined the North-South Center of the Council of Europe. In June 2004, Morocco was designated as a major non-NATO ally by the United States. According to historian Bernard Lugan, it is among other things the attraction of wealth from trade from the South (Sahara) to the North (the West) which will attract the lusts of various tribes with the crossroads city of Marrakech which will naturally become the capital of various dynasties, in particular those coming from the South (Almoravides, Almohades, Saadiens); the entire history of Morocco (from the Idrissides to the Alaouites) is thus marked by the trade in wealth from the South to the North. The history of Morocco was partially marked by commercial ties with the Sahara.
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy. Its constitution is that proposed by King Mohammed VI and voted by referendum in 2011, increasing the powers of parliament although these are still limited on certain points. The first constitution was promulgated by Hassan II in 1962. It had been modified and enriched in 1970, 1972, 1992 and 1996. Indeed, most of the power is concentrated in the hands of the king, hereditary monarch. Currently, executive power is exercised by the government under the direction of the king. The bicameral legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives composed of 395 members elected every five years by universal suffrage, and the House of Councilors which comprises between 90 and 120 members renewed by thirds every three years, as well as by the king who can legislate by decree. Justice is the third power. This power, which has been undergoing rapid change in recent years, thanks to the creation of new specialized jurisdictions (administrative courts, commercial courts).
Morocco is the fifth economic power in Africa by being ranked eleventh African country in number of inhabitants and 25th in area. It is certainly the third economic power in North Africa, behind Egypt and Algeria, respectively classified third and eighth African populations and twelfth and first largest countries of the continent, nevertheless, the kingdom of Cherifia becomes the second investor country on its own continent. The evolution of the Moroccan economy has shown a remarkable degree of resilience within its regional environment: Morocco has recorded one of the highest growth rates in the MENA region, a region which has relatively well weathered the global crisis in achieving average growth above the eurozone, the CEECs and Latin America. Thus, Morocco achieved an average annual growth of 4.3% 100 during the period 2008-2013 against 4% for the MENA zone, -0.3% in the euro zone, 2.3% in the CEECs and 3, 2% in Latin America and the Caribbean. This performance is the result of the 9.2% annual increase in value added in the primary sector and the good performance of the non-agricultural sector, thanks in particular to the performance of the tertiary sector. From 2004 to 2014, Moroccan GDP increased from $ 56 billion to $ 107 billion, with well-controlled inflation at an annual average of 1.8%. According to the Ministry of the Economy, Morocco recorded in 2015 an inflation of 1.6% and a growth of 4.8% driven by a good agricultural year, a figure higher than the forecasts of the finance law 2015 which counted on a 4.4% growth.
In 2014 the added value of the tertiary sector reached 55.8% of GDP followed by 29.6% for industry and 13.6% for agriculture. The manufacturing industry is dominated by textiles, leather goods, food processing, petroleum refining and electronic assembly. New sectors offer high growth potential and reduce the kingdom’s dependence on its agricultural sector: chemicals, automotive equipment, IT, electronics and aeronautics. In 2019, Morocco “remains the most unequal country in northern Africa and in the most unequal half of the countries of the planet. In 2018, the three richest Moroccan billionaires alone owned 4.5 billion dollars, or 44 billion dirhams. The increase in their wealth in one year represents as much as the consumption of 375,000 Moroccans among the poorest over the same period, “said a report by the NGO Oxfam.
According to the 2014 legal population census, Morocco then had around 33.84 million inhabitants, including 86,206 foreigners. Throughout the twentieth century, the country experienced strong demographic growth which has multiplied by 6 its population since 1912. During the same period, the proportion of city dwellers increased constantly reaching 55% in 2005: the country counts today about thirty cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants (when none existed a century ago); three agglomerations have more than a million inhabitants: Casablanca, Rabat-Salé and Fès. Morocco is one of the first countries in Africa after Tunisia and Algeria to have started its demographic transition: the synthetic fertility index fell from 7.2 to 2.5 between 1962 and 2004.
School is compulsory in Morocco for children under the age of fifteen. The illiteracy rate of the population increased from 43% in 2004 to 28% in 2012. In 2014, 53% of Moroccan women are illiterate, a rate which reaches 71% in rural areas. The education system remains marked by very strong inequalities. The Arabized public education system in the 1980s was very regularly criticized for its results and its pedagogy. Middle-class and middle-class families in Morocco preferring to send their children to private French-language schools. There are around fifteen public universities in Morocco with 230,000 students, and several private universities including Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and the International University of Rabat. Morocco also has a large number of major engineering and business schools such as the Mohammed VI International Academy of Civil Aviation, EHTP, EMI, ISCAE and ENCG.
The official languages of Morocco are Berber and classical Arabic, which comes in several dialects spoken according to regions, such as Hilalian languages in the western plains for example. The country considers French and Spanish (in Western Sahara) as other cultural languages, as well as English, which is expanding among the younger generations. Arab Literary The language taught in public schools and used in writing, formal speeches and the media is literary Arabic. It is only well mastered by the most educated population. Dialectal By a phenomenon of diglossia, the Arabic dialect commonly spoken in the street and everyday life is the Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, mother tongue of the Arabic-speaking Moroccans (about 60% of the population) and also practiced by the Berber speakers in their great majority ( although many men and women, especially in rural areas, speak only Berber). Darija differs little from other dialects of the Maghreb but is incomprehensible to the speakers of the Mashreq, unlike literary Arabic which then serves as lingua franca. Hassanya, the Arabic dialect used in the Sahara and the southern regions (Guelmim, Assa, Tarfaya, M’Hamid El Ghizlane), is also cited in the Constitution, after Arabic and Amazigh.
Algerian Government Ends Spain Co-operation Treaty Over Western Sahara Dispute
The Algerian government on Wednesday announced it has decided to end its 20-year-old treaty of friendship, good neighborliness, and cooperation…Read More »
Algerian, Moroccan Foreign Ministers Clash At UN General Assembly Over Western Sahara
Algerian and Moroccan Foreign Ministers took the ongoing dispute over Western Sahara to the United Nations General Assembly on Monday…Read More »
Algerian Government Announces Closure Of Airspace To All Moroccan Aircrafts
Algerian government on Wednesday announced the immediate closure of the country’s airspace to all Moroccan civilian and military aircraft, in…Read More »
Algerian Government Ends Diplomatic Ties With Morocco, Citing Hostile Actions
The Algerian government on Tuesday ended diplomatic relations with Morocco, accusing the neighboring country of hostile actions, reported Reuters. “Algeria…Read More »
Morocco: Government Extends Night Curfew Timings To Limit COVID-19 Surge
Morocco on Tuesday increased the nationwide night curfew timing from 9 pm to 5 am in a bid to slow…Read More »
Morocco’s Health Ministry Vaccinates More Than Four Million People Against COVID-19
Morocco’s Health Ministry on Tuesday said it has vaccinated over four million people since the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination…Read More »
Morocco: Domestic Flights, Public Transport Between Cities To Resume This Week
Morocco is set to resume domestic flights, and public transport between cities starting Thursday, June 25, reported Reuters. The government…Read More »
At Least 40 People Presumed Dead As Boat Carrying Migrants Drowns Off Libya
At least 40 people are presumed missing or drowned after a boat carrying migrants bound for Europe capsized on Tuesday…Read More »
HEC Paris Launches Entrepreneurship Program In Morocco
HEC Paris in collaboration with École Polytechnique Executive Education, InnoEnergy, and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University has launched the “Entrepreneurship in…Read More »