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Morocco History

Morocco - national flagMorocco - national flag

The flag was officially adopted in 1915, when the French placed the seal of the green Solomon (a pentagram) in the otherwise completely red flag. The color red had been the color of the ruling dynasty for more than 300 years.

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Morocco - history

Both Phenicia and Carthage established trading posts along the coast of what is today Morocco. The northern part of the country was conquered by the Romans, and for approximately 42 AD the province of Mauritania Tingitana was established. I 500-t. the area was controlled by the vandals and from the 680's Morocco was conquered by the caliphate. Over the following centuries, the population was Islamized and to a significant extent also Arabized, and during the Almoravids and the Almohads, Morocco experienced a significant cultural flourishing. Unlike the rest of North Africa, Morocco never became part of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1830, France initiated a military conquest of present-day Algeria, but at that time failed to claim Morocco, because in that case Spain would protest. In 1884, France acquired Tunisia as a protectorate and then showed growing interest in Morocco as well. The period 1900-12 was marked by various European colonial powers' attempts to favor special interests in Morocco. The end of these contradictions was that in 1912 most of Morocco became a French protectorate, while the northern part of the country came under Spanish control as Spanish Morocco. By extension, was placed European forces in the country, both in French territory and the Spanish began the local people armed resistance in the Spanish territory were defeated in the late 1920's and in the French first in the 1934th.

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The struggle for independence and the first years as an independent nation

The armed resistance was ideologically and politically carried on by a Moroccan nationalist movement that in 1944 joined forces in the formation of the Istiqlal party, which demanded independence. The Moroccan sultan, Muhammad V, supported the national movement's demand for full independence, which is why he was sent into exile in 1953-55 on French initiative. France agreed in 1956, after the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence, that Morocco became independent, and in 1957 the country was transformed into a constitutional monarchy with Muhammad as king.

Morocco History

The first years after independence was marked by an intense struggle between the Istiqlal and the king. Through the establishment of a number of pro-royal parties, Muhammad succeeded in weakening Istiqlal, who on several occasions sought to secure status as the only legitimate political party. At his death in 1961, Muhammad was succeeded by his son Hassan 2. The young king dissolved the country's parliament in 1963 after violent political unrest in several major cities, and until 1970, the political parties were banned from operating. Several parties, however, refused even after 1970 to participate in political life, because the monarchy in their view put too narrow limits to what the parties had to intervene. In 1971 and again in 1972 was unsuccessful coup attempt against Hassan.

The monarchy on the offensive

In 1975, King Hassan organized the Green March, claiming the territory that had until then been the Spanish Sahara. In Hassan's view, the area was part of historic Morocco, and the king received support from Moroccan nationalists. When Spain withdrew from the area in 1976, Morocco occupied the northern part of the former Spanish Western Sahara, while Mauritania occupied the southern part of the area. Mauritania quickly gave up its occupation, and in 1979 Morocco was able to secure military control of the rest of the area as well.

As early as 1976, the liberation movement Polisario proclaimed the Sahara-Arab Republic and, with the support of Algeria a war against Morocco that came to weigh heavily on Morocco. Firstly, the military occupation was costly, and secondly, it brought Morocco on a collision course with neighboring Algeria, with a large number of states in Africa and with the African Unity Organization OAU. For the same reason, Morocco remains outside the current AU. It was not until the mid-1990's that political negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario progressed towards a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Following a 1988 agreement that a UN referendum would determine the future of Western Sahara, Morocco and the Polisario concluded a ceasefire in 1991. However, the referendum was never held. New negotiations are currently (2007) on a solution to the conflict under the auspices of the UN. Despite continued opposition from the Polisario, the area has today, to a large extent, in practice been integrated as part of Morocco.

Morocco has unsuccessfully tried to join the EU, but in 1995 succeeded in becoming an associate member. It has therefore been necessary to seek alternative economic and political cooperation with the other Arab states in the region. This led in 1989 to the formation of the UMA (Union de Maghreb Arab), in which Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania agreed on economic and political cooperation. Disagreement over Western Sahara has so far prevented the intentions from being translated into political reality.

After massive political repression of the political opposition in the 1970's and 1980's, King Hassan II allowed a gradual opening in the early 1980's, allowing political parties to participate actively in political life. There have been periods when the monarchy has again tried to limit the participation of the parties, but each time the grip has been loosened again. From the early 1990's, a decided process of political liberalization gained momentum. The constitutional amendments gave the political parties ever greater influence, although the king retained extensive control. At the same time, a number of significant improvements were made to the human rights situation in the country and a number of political prisoners were released.

A crucial turning point was the parliamentary elections in 1997, which led to the political opposition under the leadership of the socialist Abderahmane Youssoufi being allowed to take over government power for the first time, albeit still under the extensive control of the royal house. In 1999, Hassan II died and was succeeded by his son Muhammad VI. He quickly gained great popular popularity, among other things. because he promised social reforms and to strengthen the process of political liberalization. Muhammad VI has launched a number of reform initiatives; Among other things, he has established a truth commission that has looked at the political repression of the left in the 1970's and 1980's. The King has also carried out a comprehensive revision of the Moroccan Family Law, which significantly increases the legal status of women in the family. However, it applies to these, as to a large number of other reform initiatives, that so far they have not changed the basic distribution of power in the country. Furthermore, despite his many promises, Muhammad has not yet seriously addressed the many social problems in Morocco. As in the rest of the Arab world, political developments through the 1980's and 1990's have ' have been marked by a growing Islamic opposition to the political system. In May 2003, for the first time, a large-scale Islamist-inspired terrorist attack took place in the country with a series of coordinated suicide bombings inCasablanca. Morocco has since cracked down on all threats from the Islamist movements. Apart from this episode, the development of the Islamist movements in the country has been peaceful and has not had the same dramatic consequences as in neighboring Algeria. This is partly due to the fact that the Moroccan royal house possesses great religious legitimacy, as the king is said to be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. The public's confidence in the political system is extremely limited. This was clearly seen in the 2007 parliamentary elections, where only 37% of eligible voters cast their ballots despite the fact that the election was the most transparent ever.

In February 2011, the unrest that had plagued many Arab countries since December 2010 spread to Morocco (see Arab Spring). There were scattered demonstrations in several cities, and in the capital Rabat, clashes broke out between police and protesters protesting against corruption and demanding that King Muhammad VI relinquish some of his power. Subsequently, the king has promised reforms. At the same time, an economic and social council has been formed that can be interpreted as an attempt to show a will to reform. In the 2011 election, the PJD (Parti de la justice et du dévelloppement) became the largest party in the country, and its leader, Abdel-Ilah Benkiran (b. 1954), became prime minister.

 

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