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Greater Morocco Map.

Greater Morocco is a label historically used by some Moroccan anti-colonial political leaders agitating against French rule, to refer to wider territories historically associated with the Moroccan Sultan, current usage most frequently occurs in a critical context accusing Morocco, largely in discussing the disputed Western Sahara, of irredentist claims on neighbouring territories. Irredentist, official and unofficial Moroccan, claims on territories viewed by Moroccans as having been under some form of Moroccan sovereignty before the colonial era (most frequently with respect to the Spanish enclaves) are rhetorically tied back to an accused expansionism. However, Moroccan government claims make no current reference to the greater Morocco concept, which appears to have died out in the 1970s, except for the case of Western Sahara.

In 1963, following the bloody Algerian independence war, Morocco attacked their western regions (Tindouf & Bechar), claiming that they were moroccan. After a month of fighting & some hundreds of casualties, the conflict stalemated.

In the early stages of decolonisation certain Moroccan political actors, in particular some members of the Istiqlal party, like Allal al-Fassi, in the first years of Morocco's independence, were in favour of claiming wider territories historically associated in some way with the Moroccan Sultan. This was initially not supported by Sultan (later King) of Morocco.[1] Al-Fassi's ambitions gained more support in the beginning of the sixties, leading to a delay in the recognition of Mauritania.[2]

Al-Fassi's wider claims were effectively abandoned in the later sixties, although Morocco claims the Western Sahara and the Spanish enclaves on its northern coast, Ceuta and Melilla. Morocco's refusal to accept its post-colonial borders in the case of Western Sahara has put it on a collision course with the African Union, which holds this as one of its principles. As a consequence, Morocco is the only African country to step out of the union, because the Polisario, representing the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic was awarded a seat. [3]

After Moroccan independence in 1956 and the death of King Mohammed V, the government of King Hassan II laid claim on several territories, successfully (re)acquiring the Tarfaya Strip (after the Ifni War with Spain) and much of the territory between Ceuta and Melilla, as well as the occupation of the Saharian territories.


  1. ^ Douglas E. Ashford, Johns Hopkins University, The Irredendist Appeal in Morocco and Mauritania, The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 5, 1962-12, p. 641-651, p.645 "The sole advocate of "total liberation" was Allal al-Fassi, who refused to enter France even to meet with his Monarch or long-standing nationalist colleagues."
  2. ^ Douglas E. Ashford, p. 646
  3. ^ Greater Morocco

See also



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