The French Colonization of Morocco (With Focus on the Treaty of Fez


Kelsey Weber Zach Menzer Humanities 10XB 28 February 2007

Weber, 7

Kelsey Weber Zach Menzer Humanities 10XB 28 February 2007 The French Colonization of Morocco (With Focus on the Treaty of Fez) If somebody were to venture down the alluring streets of the country of Morocco, the vibrant culture and enticing atmosphere would glow in prominence. Aside from the native character the culture possesses, there is a mixture of French influence that has existed for several years. Beginning as a primitive culture struggling to support itself, Morocco became a land of conquest to European nations, especially the French. With the growing desire for power, the French began to occupy Morocco, with hopes of colonization that would increase their international empire. Because the French were able to colonize Morocco due to their aggressive economic influence during a time of financial instability, there is a prominent French influence in Moroccan culture. Background Information During the late 1800s as the turn of the century approached, Morocco secured its status as an independent country while neighboring nations surrendered to French, Spanish, British and Turkish colonization (Country Profile: Morocco). However, in 1856, Morocco signed an agreement to open its domestic markets to European trading (Burke, Edmund III, Prelude to Protectorate in Morocco, 54). The French has become interested in Morocco decades before in 1830, however, the idea of international trading lured them into devising further involvement in Morocco (Country Profile: Morocco). Morocco welcomed the French but in 1903, France began to abuse its welcoming and began to "adopt an aggressive policy towards Morocco" (The Moroccan Crisis). The French's entrance into

Weber, 7 Morocco occurred at a time when civil rebellions were happening and the imposing of French ways only raised tension. Scarred by instability, the Sultan depended on the international interest that was suspected to boost Morocco's finances, but on May 23rd, 1904, the Sultan relied on loans from France to just barely support the dilapidated economy (Burke, 121). The French compromised and took control of custom revenues in return, and slowly they were gaining power. Confident in their aid to help Morocco's failing economy, in 1905, France asserted power to control the army, police and custom fees (The Moroccan Crisis). The once Independent country able to function without international help had succumbed to French colonization due to their instability. Treaty of Fez France continued to intentionally gain control of important aspects of Moroccan culture through identifying the weaknesses of the economy. After introducing an internal reform and receiving rejection from the government, the French constructed a new approach and in 1910 "secured total financial control of Morocco" (The Moroccan Crisis). A year later, France began to try and gain approval from Morocco for becoming a protectorate of France and on March 30th, 1912, Morocco signed the Treaty of Fez that declared it as a French protectorate (21). The Treaty had created a dilemma for, however, because legally it did not remove Morocco’s label as a sovereign state but it basically manipulated the Sultans power. “He reigned, but he did not rule” (Country Profile: Morocco). After the treaty had been signed, the French started to develop strategies for pacification, as General Augustin Guillaume stated in a primary source news document, “We wish this country to be a sturdy bastion of order against the mounting tide of anarchy” (11). The Treaty of Fez had granted France control of important powers in the economy, government and social aspects of Morocco that allowed them freedom to develop the country in the way they saw fit because they had declared a central government (15). The French were convinced that first the native tribes needed to be ameliorated. Even before the French occupation the Berber tribes, inhabiting Morocco since 1200 BC, had disregarded the Sultans authority and the French

Weber, 7 viewed this rebellion as a threat (19). After addressing social reform, the French moved to political reorganization within the Sherifian government organization. Introducing ‘neo-Sherifian’ ideas into the new government, the French began to have control of the future of Morocco by deciding the next steps in the progression of the new pacification plan (11). Through the government, 1,000 miles of new railroad transportation was created to link the five new trading posts, Casablanca becoming one of the most active. France was able to increase its international trade reputation with the direction of Morocco’s economic trade. France also invested in Morocco’s natural minerals phosphate, cobalt, tin, zinc, manganese, silver, iron, lead and petroleum (15). To power Morocco’s growing industrial economy, coal was lacking in abundance so they depended on water for fuel. To preserve enough fuel to allow the functioning of the economy, six dams were constructed that have been in use since their construction. Social reform also became popular when the health and medical aid of Morocco was solved by 260 new hospitals as well as several other health clinics (11). The economy began to operate at such a high level that Morocco began to be able to support itself. The French’s persistent aggressiveness to obtain power in Morocco is the reason why the country was able to fix it’s original failing state. Cultural Results For the next 40 years, the French would occupy Morocco and continue their colonization by branding economic, social and political reforms into the culture. Not long after the Treaty of Fez was signed, “Sahara tribes…rose up; their fight last until 1934. Northwards…Berbers of the Rif… revolted against the Spaniards” (Morocco, Abdelaziz). The violent rebellions occurring sparked national attention and people began to recognize the true intentions of the international occupants. Morocco became a battlefield and the Sultan finally took political stance and founded the Moroccan Action Party, which argued that the French had disregarded the Treaty of Fez and questioned their morals and

Weber, 7 intentions (Morocco, Abdelaziz). People became interested in the dispute and nationalists began to advertise the idea of independence to the public and Morocco’s goals began to alter from creating a superfluous economy to gaining back independence from their International “protectors” (Morocco, Abdelaziz). Tension remained in the country but people had backed down from physical resistance for the new two decades. It was not until 1950 did Morocco’s struggle for independence returned. Sultan Mohammed V was banned and Mohammed Ben Aarafa took the throne. Not a public favorite but a strong influential political leader, Aarafa began to encourage the people of his country to want their independence once again. His public displays of opposition and his ideas of war to regain their independence caused France to allow Mohammed V back into leadership. Mohammed V and the French government negotiated and finally on March 2nd, 1956 political independence was rewarded to Morocco and soon the entire protectorate was eliminated (Morocco General Facts and Information). As Henry Ginger, a former New York Times author quoted after the independence, “In recognizing Morocco’s independence, the French government said that this implied Morocco’s own diplomatic representation as well as a national army. The French Government also pledge itself to respect and have others respect ‘the integrity of Morocco’s territory’” (Giniger,  Henry) Although Morocco gained it’s own independence, the French occupation left several influences on the culture that have lasted until today. Due to the French’s construction of railways, roads and trading ports, Morocco is responsible for a large percentage of the world’s phosphate production (5). On top of the abundance in phosphate, several other natural minerals are buried in the cultivated soil and distributed to several nations throughout the world. Also the French’s occupation left an effect on the language and not

Weber, 7 only has French become the 2nd spoken language by itself in Morocco, it also left imprints on Moroccan Arabic. Before the French occupation, the Arabic dialect had only Berber influences but after the French’s intrusion, the language became flooded with new French vocabulary and grammar that is still in use today (24). Small things such as street signs have been altered and are discussed currently in mainstream Moroccan society (22). The French’s occupation seemed to have led a interesting path because it began as a simple colonization of an economically failing nation and with the help of a rich, powerful European country, the primitive African’s were able to build a better, stronger and more modernized economy. Afterwards, the French began to abuse power and that’s when Morocco realized the pros and cons of the international aid and fought for Independence and it seems as if the French’s initial inhabitance of Morocco is an important component as to how Morocco has stayed an independent and successful country.

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Works Cited (still in progress 24 total source) Burke, Edmund III. Prelude to Protectorate in Morocco. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Country Profile: Morocco. May 2006. Library of Congress- Federal Research Division. 27 Feb. 2007.

The Moroccan Crisis. 16 Dec. 2006. 28 Feb. 2007.

Morocco. 31 Mar. 1999. Abdelaziz. 25 Feb. 2007.  <>

Giniger, Henry. “Paris Avows Independence of Morocco in New Accord.” New York  Times 3 Mar. 1956, pg 1. 

Morocco General Facts and Information. 12 Oct. 2006. 25 Feb. 2007. <­general­facts­and­

Weber, 7 information/ Pennell, C. R. Morocco since 1830: A History. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

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