November 5, 2015
Pham: Morocco's Green March at Forty
This Friday is the 40th anniversary of one of the defining moments of the post-colonial history of Morocco and, indeed, all of Africa. At dawn on Nov. 6, 1975, some 350,000 Moroccans armed only with flags and copies of the Quran crossed the border arbitrarily imposed by 19th-century European imperialists to peacefully take back a sparsely populated, wind-swept territory that Spain claimed in the wake of the Congress of Berlin in 1885 and over which it only managed to impose a modicum of control in the 1920s.
Amid the scramble for Africa, the ancient kingdom of Morocco, for more than a thousand years the only state between the Mediterranean and the Senegal River, was itself carved up by the colonial powers. Tangier was made an international zone under the joint administration of France, Spain, Britain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and, even briefly, the United States; Spain occupied the far north and the far south of historic Morocco; and France occupied the remainder of the country with the exception of Ifni, which the Spanish took because of its position on the Atlantic coast across from the Canary Islands.