Morocco: historical timeline

Morocco: historical timeline

Morocco: historical timeline

The occupation

Morocco: historical timeline: 1062. Foundation of Marrakech by the Almoravids.

1086. Victory at Zallaka, Spain. The Almoravid Empire extends to Muslim Spain, Senegal and Niger.

1147. Ibn Tumart takes Marrakech. Foundation of the Almohad dynasty.

1269. Morocco passes into the hands of the Marinids.

1415. Portuguese take Ceuta.

1497. The Spanish occupy Melilla.

1541. The Saadians retake Agadir from the Portuguese.

1578. Portuguese defeat at the battle of Ksar El-Kébir. Al-Mansur establishes the Cherifian dynasty.

1769. Sidi Mohammed Ibn Abd Allah captures Portuguese-held Mazagan.

1844. Sultan Abd Er-Rahman defeated at the Battle of Isly, won by General Bugeaud.

1860. The Spanish conquer Tetouan and impose heavy war indemnities on the Moroccans.

1864. A decree opens Morocco to foreign trade. Beginning of European economic penetration (Great Britain, France, Spain, then Germany from 1890).

1906. The Algeciras Conference (April 6-7) placed Morocco under the control of the European powers and gave Tangier the status of an “international city”.

1907. The assassination of Dr Mauchamps in Marrakech leads to the occupation of Oujda by France. Riots against foreigners and anti-Jewish pogroms in Casablanca. Beginning of the creeping “pacification” of Morocco by French forces.

1912. The Treaty of Fez (March 30) establishes a French protectorate over Morocco – Spain will retain a zone of influence in the north (Rif) and south (Tarfaya), under the Franco-Spanish agreements of November 27. Violent riots break out in Fez and other major cities. Sultan Moulay Hafid is forced to abdicate in favor of his brother Moulay Youssef. The “pacification” of Morocco intensifies. Lyautey is appointed Resident General of Morocco.


1921-1926. Rif War. Following his victory over the Spanish at Anoual on July 21, 1921, Emir Abd El-Krim proclaimed the Confederate Republic of the Rif tribes. Defeated in May 1926 by Franco-Spanish troops led by Pétain, he surrendered and was deported to Reunion Island.

1927. Death of Sultan Moulay Youssef in November. The French impose his third son, Sidi Mohammed (future Mohammed V), as ruler.

1930. Signature of the dahir (“law”) on Berber jurisdiction on May 16, dividing the two ethnic components of the Moroccan nation, Arabs and Berbers. Nationalist demonstrations broke out in Fez and all major cities.

1934. Lyautey dies on July 27. The Moroccan Action Committee (CAM) is founded in November by young intellectuals, including Allal El-Fassi, Mohammed El-Ouazzani and Ahmed Balafrej.

1936. General Noguès appointed Resident General of Morocco in October.

1937. Split in the CAM. After a period of unrest throughout the country, the French authorities decide to deport El-Fassi to Gabon and El-Ouazzani to the Sahara.

Morocco: historical timeline

1939. Sidi Mohammed calls on Moroccans to support France at war.

1940. General Noguès supports Pétain.

1942. Allied landings in North Africa in November.

1943. January 14-24: Allied conference in Casablanca (Morocco), attended by President Franklin Roosevelt (USA) and Winston Churchill (UK), who promise Sidi Mohammed to work for Moroccan independence. Creation of the Istiqlal (“Independence”) party.

1944. On January 11, Istiqlal publishes its manifesto for independence.

1946. Erik Labonne becomes the new Resident General in Morocco. El-Fassi returns from exile.

1947. Violent riots engulf Casablanca in April. Several hundred people were killed. On the 10th, Sidi Mohammed delivers a speech in Tangiers, calling for the country’s independence. Labonne is dismissed and replaced in May by General Juin.


1951. Sidi Mohammed breaks with General Juin, supported by conservative colonists and members of the extremist Présence française party. General Guillaume becomes the new resident general.

1953. In August, the Sultan was deposed by the French, condemned to exile in Madagascar and replaced by his cousin Ben Arafa. Under the impetus of nationalists, the country’s major cities rise up. In December, the United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution on Morocco’s right to self-determination.

1954. Francis Lacoste replaces General Guillaume.

1955. The La Celle-Saint-Cloud agreements (November 6) provide for the return of the Sultan, under the name of Mohammed V, and the country’s independence. Mohammed V triumphantly returns to Morocco on November 10.

1956. Morocco achieves independence on March 2, following the signing in Paris of the joint declaration ending the protectorate. In April, Morocco recovers the northern zone, previously under Spanish control, and the city of Tangier in October. The country was unified once again (with the exception of the Ifni enclave and the Tarfaya area, which remained under Spanish control).

1957. Mohammed V assumed the title of King in August. His son Hassan II is named his successor.

1958. In January, the Franco-Spanish military operation against the Moroccan Southern Liberation Army (ALSM) in Western Sahara is launched. Agreement between Spain and Morocco on the retrocession of the Tarfaya province on April 1. Start of the Rif uprising, crushed by the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) a few months later.

1959. Split within the Istiqlal in December: Mehdi Ben Barka creates the socialist-inspired, anti-imperialist Union nationale des forces populaires (UNFP).

Morocco: historical timeline

1961. Death of Mohammed V on February 26. Hassan II acceded to the throne on March 3.

1962. Adoption of the first Constitution by referendum on December 7. A few weeks later, the King removed the Istiqlal from government.

1963. Arrests in July of UNFP members and Communists suspected of plotting against the State. The “Sand War” between Morocco and Algeria in October-November. Ben Barka sentenced to death in absentia on November 9.

1965. After the Casablanca uprising – bloodily put down by General Oufkir – in March, a state of emergency is declared. The King was given full powers. Ben Barka is assassinated in Paris on October 29.

1969. Spain cedes the Ifni enclave back to Morocco on June 30.


1971. Attempted coup d’état at Skhrirat Palace on July 10 (nearly 100 dead). The instigators, including generals Ababou and Medbouh, are executed.

1972. Adoption of the third Constitution in March, part of which is suspended in April (postponement of legislative elections). Second military coup attempt, on August 16, led by General Oufkir, who was killed the following day.

1973. January: banning of the National Union of Moroccan Students (UNEM), the main student union. Restriction of the code of public freedoms in April. On May 10, creation of the Polisario Front (Front populaire pour la libération de la Saguia El-Hamra et du Río de Oro) in Western Sahara. In August, Morocco reclaims all its colonial lands.

1974. In June, Sheikh Abdessalam Yacine publishes an open letter to the King entitled “Islam or the Flood”. He is immediately arrested. In September, Morocco’s claim to the Western Sahara is brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague: a crisis between Algeria and Morocco. Arrests of numerous opponents of the regime, including Abraham Serfaty and Abdellatif Zeroual.

Morocco: historical timeline

1975. Launch, on November 6, of the “Green March” for the Western Sahara on the initiative of Hassan II. The tripartite agreement signed in Madrid between Morocco, Spain and Mauritania on November 14 enshrines the division of the territory between Morocco and Mauritania. Assassination in December of left-wing leader Omar Benjelloun by an Islamist commando.

1976. Violent clashes early in the year between Moroccan and Algerian troops in Amgalla (Western Sahara). On February 27, the Polisario Front proclaims the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Tindouf (Algeria). On March 7, diplomatic relations between Morocco and Algeria are broken off.

1977. The first legislative elections are held in June, since the adoption of the third Constitution. Istiqlal joins the new government led by Ahmed Osman, head of the Rassemblement national des indépendants (RNI) and Hassan II’s brother-in-law.

1979. Driss Basri is appointed Minister of the Interior in March. In August, Mauritania withdraws from southern Western Sahara under a peace agreement signed with the Polisario Front. The Moroccan army immediately deploys over the entire territory.

1980. Morocco begins building “protection walls” in the Western Sahara. In Fez, on June 9, incidents between Islamists and the police claim several victims and lead to numerous arrests.


1981. Popular demonstrations against rising staple food prices in June were harshly repressed by the authorities (several hundred deaths in Casablanca). On June 27, Hassan II accepted the Saharawis’ right to self-determination and proposed the organization of a “confirmatory” referendum.

1982. The SADR is admitted to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), from which Morocco withdraws two years later.

1984. The “bread riots” in January, which shook Marrakech and the north of the country, left hundreds dead. A wave of arrests in protest circles.

1986. Meeting in Ifrane between Hassan II and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Pérès (July 22-23).

1988. Restoration of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Algeria on May 6. In August, Morocco and the Polisario Front accept a UN plan for a ceasefire and self-determination referendum.

1989. On February 17, the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) is created, bringing together Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya. Sheikh Yacine was placed under house arrest in December, and the Justice and Charity movement was dissolved.

Morocco: historical timeline

1990. Morocco sides with the multinational force sent to the Gulf in August, despite public support for Iraq. In December, a general strike called by trade unions was accompanied by violent riots in several Moroccan cities (Tangiers, Fez, Kenitra). Diplomatic crisis in November between Paris and Rabat following the publication of Gilles Perrault’s book, Notre ami le roi, denouncing systematic human rights violations by the Moroccan regime.

1991. On February 3, over 300,000 people demonstrate in Rabat in support of the Iraqi people. In Western Sahara, a ceasefire is declared in September under the aegis of the United Nations. That same month, Abraham Serfaty was released from prison and expelled from the country; the Tazmamart penal colony was closed and its inmates transferred to other prisons in the kingdom.

1992. In August, Hassan II presented a draft constitutional reform designed to “democratize” the regime. The reform was approved by referendum on September 4.

1993. Legislative elections in June. The opposition, led by the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and Istiqlal, refused to participate in the government.

1994. From January to March, clashes between police and students at the universities of Fez and Casablanca. On August 24, two Spanish tourists are killed in a terrorist attack in Marrakech.

Mohammed VI

1996. Adoption on September 13 of a new constitutional reform, which notably instituted a Chamber of Advisors – alongside the Chamber of Representatives – and strengthened the King’s prerogatives.

1998. Abderrahmane Youssoufi, Secretary General of the USFP, is appointed Prime Minister of an alternating government on February 4. Driss Basri remained in the government.

1999. Hassan II dies on July 23. His son Mohammed VI is enthroned on the 30th. In a speech, the new king refers to “the disappeared and the victims of arbitrary arrests”. Abraham Serfaty is allowed to return from exile in September. The Ben Barka family returned to Morocco two months later, after an absence of thirty-six years. Riots in El-Ayoun, Western Sahara, are harshly repressed. Driss Basri is dismissed on November 9.

2000. Supporters and opponents of the planned reform of the family code marched on March 12, some in Rabat, others in Casablanca. The text was eventually withdrawn.

2001. Royal visit to Western Sahara on November 1.

2002. A demonstration in support of Palestine brings together over a million people in Rabat on April 7. In July, a Spanish-Moroccan crisis over the Peregil/Leïla islet, 200 meters off the Moroccan coast. The two countries normalize relations six months later. Legislative elections on September 27 saw 35 women elected to Parliament, while the Islamist Party for Justice and Development (PJD) became the country’s leading opposition force with 41 seats. Mr. Youssoufi is replaced by Mr. Driss Jettou, who does not belong to any party.

2003. On May 16, terrorist attacks kill 45 people in Casablanca, including the 12 suicide bombers. On May 28, Parliament passed an anti-terrorism law. The King announces the “end of the era of laxity”. On July 11, ten death sentences were handed down to members of the Salafia Jihadia, implicated in the attacks. Around a hundred others were sentenced in August and September.

Morocco: historical timeline

2004. On January 7, the King pardoned 33 political prisoners, including journalist Ali Lmrabet, and announced the creation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER), tasked with collecting testimonies from the victims of the “years of lead”. On the 16th, the deputies unanimously adopted legal equality between men and women. In June 22, the United Nations Special Envoy for Western Sahara, James Baker, resigned. Rabat calls for a “definitive and comprehensive solution based on broad autonomy”.

2005. Fourteen African migrants are killed in October by Moroccan and Spanish forces as hundreds attempt to enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The Moroccan army violently repressed the secessionist demonstrations that had been taking place in Western Sahara for several months.

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