November 6, 1975 is a date anchored in the hearts and minds of all Moroccans, it is the Green March, a peaceful process marking a political, diplomatic and historical epic for the Kingdom.
In an interview with MoroccoLatestNews, Abdellaziz Tahiri, Professor of Modern History at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in Rabat, takes us back half a century, to shed light on the historical aspect of this symbolic event.
The Sahara remained under Spanish colonial control, despite attempts made by Moroccans, first at the military level, through the Liberation Army, which mobilized in southern Morocco to recover the Sahara region. , the historian begins his story.
We remember here, he adds, the battle in which the Spaniards allied themselves with the French against the Moroccan army, and the negotiations carried out in this context by the Kingdom, in the person of the late Hassan II.
Continuing his journey through history, Abdellaziz Tahiri recalls that this period saw several international developments, particularly in Spain which was under the Franco dictatorship. The Iberian country had begun in the early 1970s to think about withdrawing from the Sahara, but instead adopted an approach close to the interest of Algeria, which was seeking to set foot in the Sahara to see an outlet to the ocean. Atlantic and this, contrary to Moroccan interests. This approach is also part of the long conflict between Morocco and Algeria, in particular the sand war, during which the Royal Armed Forces were able to defeat the Algerian army.
Spain therefore wanted to get rid of its colonization, but, according to the colonial thesis which was adopted by both Madrid and Paris, the Sahara being considered “a desert land, with a population living in territories that do not belong to any state”, notes our interlocutor, who specifies that however, this only concerned a small number of inhabitants of the Sahara, excluding a large number of them who were present or had left for the central or northern regions of Morocco.
In this, Spain supported the colonial thesis adopted by Algeria, which is why the late Hassan II seized the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1975, which rendered its famous judgment confirming “political relations and a bond of allegiance between the tribes and inhabitants of the Sahara and the Sultans of Morocco”.
This decision was for Morocco a legal and diplomatic victory on which to rely, and therefore, to initiate this stroke of genius that was the Green March.
“On October 16, 1975, Morocco announced its Peaceful March to liberate its Sahara, complete its territorial integrity and restore its natural sovereignty over its lands. Indeed, this march was organized on November 6 and brought together 350,000 Moroccans, who responded to the King’s call and gathered in the Sahrawi region, exerting great pressure on Spain, while General Franco was dying and the country was making its transition from a dictatorial regime to a democratic system, after the return of the monarchy”, explains the historian.
After that, a tripartite meeting was held in Madrid between Morocco, Spain and Mauritania, which resulted in the famous Madrid agreement of 1975, according to which Spain announced its withdrawal from the region of Sakia el- Hamra, returned under Moroccan sovereignty. However, the region of Oued Ed Dahab remained under Mauritanian supervision.
Algeria did not like this and began to support the separatist movement’s militias, which began carrying out military attacks in the Sahara as well as in Mauritania. In 1979, when the Polisario attacked Mauritania and after a military coup that overthrew the president of Mauritania, a friend of Morocco, Mokhtar Ould Daddah, a new regime arrived that tried everything to get rid of these attacks, he therefore entered into dialogue with the Polisario and notably announced his withdrawal from the region of Oued Eddahab, leaving room for the militia.
Aware of these shenanigans, Morocco and its Sovereign at the time, did not let themselves be done: the late Hassan II therefore decided to intervene directly, the result of the races, a large number of Sahrawi notables, jurists, scholars and chiouks came to Rabat and pledged allegiance to the throne, thus restoring the order of history to the region.