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French Influence

At a conference held in Algeciras, Spain, in 1906, 12 European nations and the United States reaffirmed their respect for Moroccan independence. The protocols of the Algeciras Conference provided that every nation would have equal access to Morocco, but they could not alter the reality that the international community had sanctioned the preeminence of French influence there. In the first decade of the twentieth century, French forces progressively occupied Morocco, and the 1912 Treaty of Fs turned most of Morocco into a French protectorate. Spain was given control of pieces of Morocco in the far north and south and of the Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara). Tangier received special international status. From a strictly legal point of view, the treaty did not deprive Morocco of its status as a sovereign state. Theoretically, the sultan remained the sole source of sovereignty. He reigned, but he did not rule.

Under the protectorate, French civil servants allied themselves with the French settlers (colons) and with their supporters in France to prevent any moves in the direction of Moroccan autonomy. As pacification proceeded, the French government promoted economic development, particularly the exploitation of Morocco's mineral wealth, the creation of a modern transportation system, and the development of a modern agriculture sector geared to the French market. Tens of thousands of colons entered Morocco and bought up large amounts of the rich agricultural land. Interest groups that formed among these elements continually pressured France to increase its control over Morocco.

Since the establishment of the French Protectorate, the Sultan had to follow the advice of the French Resident-General (an office created April 28, 1912) in all matters. The Government of the French Protectorate was in the hands of a French and a Shereefian (native) administration. The Resident-General holds the appointment also of Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Officer Commanding the French troops is Minister of War. The Shereefian administration consisted of six Viziers, viz. (1) the Grand Vizier, (2) Vizier of Justice, (8) Vizier of Crown Lands, (4) Vizier of 'Habous' or Pious Foundations, (6) Delegate Vizier for Instruction, and (6) President of Shereefian High Court. The capitals of Morocco were Fez, Tafilelt, Marakesh, and Rabat, in each of which towns the Sultan has palaces. The seat of Government is Rabat, where the Resident-General has his residence. The Sultan, however, at times made lengthy visits to the other capitals.

In November 1925 Muley-el-Hassan, aged 16, was proclaimed Caliph of Spanish Morocco. The fact that he is "37th in descent from Fatima, daughter of the true Prophet," secured him the office. He was installed at the Great Mosque of Tetnan, and three days of rejoicing followed. Technically he is to exercise "temporal and spiritual authority" in the Caliphate. Actually, of course, Spain pulled most of the temporal springs.

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