Among the North African empires that for centuries dominated the Iberian Peninsula, Morocco, because of its geographical location, took a hegemonic position – located between Europe and on the other, trade routes through the Sahara. Although Fez and Marrakech did not have the same intellectual power as Cairo, their political influence was felt as far away as Timbuktu and Valencia. The close relations with Spain were culturally highly enriching during the era of Caliphate rule in Córdoba, but at the end of the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula they had severe negative consequences for Morocco. According to Countryaah data, the war was carried over to the African continent, where the Spaniards conquered fortifications to the Mediterranean: Ceuta in 1415, Tánger in 1471 and Melilla in 1497. European naval control cut off for the Mediterranean Mediterranean from the Atlantic and led to a drastic decline in trading activity. Check allcitypopulation.com to see the latest population of country Morocco.
Unlike Algeria and Tunisia, Morocco was never formally incorporated into the Ottoman Empire, but benefited from the presence of Turkish troops in the region, which constituted a brake on Spanish expansion. The fragile equilibrium enabled the Sultans to maintain their independence until the 20th century. In accordance with its policy of economic infiltration, France had assumed control of the Kingdom’s finances in order to manage its external debt, while at the same time conflicting with Germany on the political hegemony of the region. An agreement with Spain on the borders of the Spanish Sahara as well as agreements with Sultan Muley Hafid to end its support for the Sahara rebels contributed to securing the French goals: a containment of Germany. A 1912 agreement between France, Spain and the United Kingdom made the country a French protectorate and divided it: Spain gained the Rif region in the north – including the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla – as well as in the south of Ifni and the Sahara. England reached an agreement with the French around Egypt and Sudan. Tangier was declared an international free port and the Sultan was made a coronary figure.
The Spanish-controlled zones quickly became the hub of nationalists dissatisfied with European dominance. It was in these zones that the Berber uprising began in 1921 under the leadership of the emir Abdel Crimea (Abd-al-Karim al-Khattab). With the support of the 3rd International and the Pan-Islamic Movement, he declared the establishment of the Republic of the united tribes of the Rif, rebelled against the tribes of the interior of the country and put the Spaniards on the defensive. The French intervened, which only extended the rebellion to the whole country, but it was not until 1926 that the French succeeded in forcing the emir from power.
In the area of the south, Spanish control was largely only formal, as the French pressed to halt the area’s status of “hangout” for rebel refugees from Algeria, Morocco, Sahara and Mauritania.
During World War II, there was a constant nationalist agitation, and the demand for liberation became so intrusive that Sultan Mohamed V himself advocated the claim. To reassure the people, France was considering going as far as to rehabilitate the old emir Abdel Crimea, sent into exile in Reunion. The old fighter made use of a stopover in Egypt to flee the ship and seek refuge in Cairo, where he died in 1963. The rising tension in the country led France to remove Mohamed V from the throne in 1953, but this step merely contributed to further radicalize the nationalist movement that initiated armed struggle. The popular pressure eventually paved the way for the Sultan’s return to the throne. In 1956, the French were forced to recognize Morocco’s complete independence.
On April 7, 1956, Morocco reintroduced Melilla, Tánger and the “special zone” of Ceuta in its territory, but the ports of the two cities remain under Spanish control today. Ifni enclave was delivered back to Morocco in 1969.