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حماية إسبانيا في المغرب
Protectorado Español de Marruecos
Spanish Protectorate of Morocco
Protectorate of Spain

1913 – 1956


Map of the northernmost territories belonging to the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco (1912–56)
Capital Tétouan
Language(s) Arabic, Spanish
Religion Islam, Catholicism
Political structure Protectorate
High Commissioners
 - 1913 Felipe Alfau y Mendoza
 - 1951-56 Rafael García Valiño y Marcén
Historical era Interwar period
 - Treaty of Fez March 30, 1912
 - Established February 27, 1913
 - Independence April 7, 1956
Currency Spanish peseta
Oldest known flag of Morocco (11th-13th century)

Part of a series on
History of Morocco

Ancient Morocco

Prehistoric Morocco
Mauretania Tingitana
Byzantine Empire

Arab Caliphates (654-780)

Rashidun Caliphate · Umayyad Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate · Caliphate of Córdoba

Moroccan Dynasties (780-current)

Idrisid dynasty · Almoravid dynasty
Almohad dynasty · Marinid dynasty
Wattasid dynasty · Saadi dynasty
Alaouite dynasty

European Protectorate (1912-1956)

Treaty of Fez · French Morocco
Spanish Morocco · Rif Republic

Modern Morocco (since 1956)

Mohammed V · Hassan II
Sand War · 1970s
Green March · Madrid Accords
1980s · 1990s
Mohammed VI · 2000s

Historical Figures

Uqba ibn Nafi · Tariq ibn Ziyad
Idris I · Yaqub al-Mansur
Ibn Battuta · Ahmad al-Mansur
Abd al-Malik I · Al Rashid
Ismail Ibn Sharif · Hassan I

Related Topics

Economic history · Military history
Postal history · Imperial cities

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Spanish Protectorate of Morocco (Arabic: حماية إسبانيا في المغرب‎) (Spanish: Protectorado Español de Marruecos) was the area of Morocco under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire, established by the Treaty of Fez in 1912 and ending in 1956, when both France and Spain recognized Moroccan independence.


Territorial borders

Muley Sadiq Raissouni (in the middle), mufti and ex-finance minister of the first caliphate, with prime-ministers Rkaina and Ben Azouz, right amd left of Sadiq respectively. The second caliphate is in its infancy during this period

The territories of Spanish Protectorate of Morocco included northern Morocco (except Ceuta and Melilla, which have been Spanish since the 16th and 15th century, respectively), the Tarfaya Strip, and Ifni. The capital of Spanish protectorate of Morocco was Tetuán (Tétouan).

The rest of the country was ruled by France, under the name of French Morocco, also from 1912 to 1956.

The city of Tangier was declared an international zone, though this status was suspended during World War II when it was provisionally occupied by Spanish troops, from 14 June 1940, on the pretext that an Italian invasion was imminent[1].

The Republic of the Rif led by the guerrilla leader Abd El-Krim was a breakaway state that existed in the Rif region from 1921 to 1926, when it was dissolved by joint expedition of the Spanish Army of Africa and French forces during the Rif War.

Spanish historical claims

Belbachir wearing a red round fez hat and a white robe hosts an agricultural delegation from Egypt

Ceuta had been Portuguese before becoming Spanish in 1580. Melilla had been part of Spain since 1497, neither was included formally in the Protectorate, but were ruled with the same provisions as in the rest of the Spanish mainland territory. As for the plazas de soberanía, most of them they were only gained after by the middle of the 19th century and, specially, after 1912 and the First Moroccan Crisis.

In the late 19th century, Queen Isabella II of Spain encouraged the officers of southern Spain to curb the migration of unauthorized poor Spaniards to the new territories[citation needed].


Belbachir wearing a red round fez hat and a white robe leaves Moncloa Palace to go meet with General Franco

The Protectorate system was established during the Second Spanish Republic. The legal Islamic qadis system was formally maintained.

The Moroccan Sephardi Jews—many of them living in this part of the Maghreb after being expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and 1497 respectively after the end of the Reconquista process—flourished in commerce, profiting from the similarity of Spanish and Ladino language and benefiting from the tax-exempt area in Tangier and a flourishing trading activity in the area.

The Spanish Civil War started in 1936 with the uprising of the Spanish troops stationed in África (as the Protectorate was informally known in the Spanish military parlance) under the command of Francisco Franco against the Republican Government. These troops became the core of the Nationalist Army, which also recruited a considerable number of Moroccan troops.

The Communist parties; the PCE and POUM, advocated anti-colonialist policies whereby the Republican Government would support the independence of Spanish Morocco, intending to create a rebellion in Franco's back and cause disaffection among his Moroccan troops. However, the Republican Government under the PSOE rejected any such idea - which would have likely resulted in conflict with France, the colonial ruler of the other portion of Morocco.[2]

Because the local Muslim troops had been among Franco's earliest supporters, the protectorate enjoyed more political freedom than Franco-era Spain proper after Franco's victory [3], with competing political parties, politically and economically protected by Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, who had the greatest legal power vested in him by both the caliph and the Spanish authorities [4] and a Moroccan nationalist press, criticizing the Spanish government. This last event was made possible by "Beit el Maghrib", the media representative office of Northwestern Africa. Belbachir founded this office upon the recommendation of the political parties in late 1930s.

In 1956, when French Morocco became independent, Spain discontinued the Protectorate and surrendered the territory to the newly independent kingdom while retaining the plazas de soberanía and other colonies outside Morocco, such as Spanish Sahara.

Unwilling to accept this, the Moroccan Army of Liberation waged war against the Spanish forces and in the Ifni War of 1958, spreading from Sidi Ifni to Rio de Oro, gained Tarfaya. In 1969, Morocco obtained Ifni. Morocco claims Ceuta and Melilla as integral parts of the country, considering them to be under foreign occupation, comparing their status to that of Gibraltar, while Spain regards them as constituent parts of its territory.

List of High Commissioners

See also


  1. ^ C.R. Pennel, Morocco Since 1830, A History
  2. ^ Tres años de lucha, José Díaz. p. 343. Cited in Landis, Arthur H. Spain! The Unfinished Revolution. 1st ed. New York: International Publishers, 1975. pp. 189-92.
  3. ^ Marin Miguel (1973). El Colonialismo espanol en Marruecos. Spain: Ruedo Iberico p. 24-26
  4. ^ Benjelloun, Abdelmajid (1988). Approches du colonialism espagnol et du movement nationaliste marocain dans l’ex-Maroc Khalifien. Rabat, Morocco: OKAD Publishing Company

Further reading

  • Hardman, Frederick (2005). The Spanish Campaign in Morocco. W. Blackwood and sons.  (download book)
  • “Min Khalifa Marrakesh Ila Mu’tamar Maghreb El Arabi.”(From the caliph of the king of Morocco to the Conference of the Maghreb). (1947, April). El Ahram
  • Wolf, Jean (1994). Les Secrets du Maroc Espagnol: L’epopee D’Abdelkhalaq Torres. Morocco: Balland Publishing Company
  • Ben Brahim, Mohammed (1949). “Ilayka Ya Ni Ma Sadiq”(To you my dear friend). Tetuan, Morocco: Hassania Publishing Company
  • Benumaya, Gil (1940). El Jalifa en Tanger. Madrid: Instituto Jalifiano de Tetuan


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