End of the French protectorate and independence of Morocco (1956)

End of the French protectorate and independence of Morocco (1956)

It was on March 2, 1956 that the Morocco then protectorate of France since 1912 becomes fully sovereign and independent. The relations of the Alaouite sultanate with France have always been of great complexity. Unlike Algeria, Morocco was not intended to become a settlement colony, and its management by Paris remains largely influenced by its first "general resident" Hubert Lyautey, who became Marshal of France in 1921.

The French protectorate in Morocco

From the 19th century, the Shereefian kingdom of Morocco aroused the envy of the European powers, in particular Germany, Spain and France. It was the latter which finally imposed itself and established in March 1912 a protectorate over Morocco, exercising civil and military power there, while maintaining the sultan on his throne. Appointed resident general of Morocco in 1912, General Lyautey actively participated in the French colonization of Morocco. Thanks to the support of traditional chiefs, he managed to put in place a pacifist policy to enhance the heritage and infrastructure of the colony.

The protectorate had to face a violent insurrection led from 1921 to 1926 by Abd el-Krim. It is Marshal Pétain who is responsible for reducing it, at the head of an army of 100,000 men. It will take ten years to pacify the Rif and the Atlas. France then sought to strengthen its control over Morocco, prompting the emergence of the first Moroccan nationalist movements, encouraged by the French defeat in 1940. In the aftermath of World War II, Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef claimed independence from Morocco. Unlike Tunisia, where the influence of the Bey on nationalist movements is relatively weak, Moroccan monarchs and in particular the future Mohamed V, are very involved in the fight for the emancipation of the country. The Moroccan political game is further complicated by the influence of the tribes, which will revolt several times against the Spanish and French presences.

Towards the independence of Morocco

Following World War II, the nationalist push became more urgent. Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef took advantage of the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession to the throne to claim the independence of Morocco. He manifested his will to resist by refusing to sign a certain number of dahirs (legal texts) while the weight of the administration, placed under the authority of General Juin, was increasingly felt. The French authorities, in agreement with Hadj Thami el Glaoui, brother-in-law of the Sultan and Pasha of Marrakech, considered one of the most powerful "feudal" of the time, organized, following a plot fomented in Marrakech, a semblance of rebellion which led to the dismissal of the Sultan in August 1953.

The latter, exiled, was replaced in this post by a featureless and elderly personality, Ibn Arafa. The nationalist activism of the “authorities” in place was then coupled with that of new formations, foremost among which is the Istiqlal. However, France, which was engaged in the Algerian war, also had to face the nationalist revolt in Tunisia and was barely emerging from the war in Indochina. She then decided to move towards a political solution : the sultan, whose exile had only consolidated legitimacy and increased international prestige, was recalled to Morocco. Returning to his country, he was received and acclaimed by a crowd of over a million and a half people. Edgar Faure's government negotiated the terms of the La-Celle-Saint-Cloud declaration (November 1955), which led to the end of the French protectorate on March 2, 1956.

For further

- The French protectorate in Morocco: A new perspective, by Mohammed Germouni. the Harmattan, 2015.

- Lyautey and the institution of the French protectorate in Morocco, 1912-1925, by Daniel Rivet. Editions L'Harmattan, 1988.

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