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Moroccan coast of the Mediterranean, with respect
to which subject, the French Government will ar-
range with that of Spain." In accordance with this
pledge, Mr. Delcasse at once entered into negotia-
tions with Senor de Leon y Castillo, the Spanish
Ambassador, their exchange of views continuing
throughout the summer of 1904. Now and again,
they found it difficult to reconcile the claims of their
respective countries; but finally a convention was
agreed upon, and duly announced in the press. Its
terms were as follows : —

The Government of the French RepubUc and that of his
Majesty, the King of Spain,

Having agreed to determine the extent and the guarantee of
the interests belonging to France by reason of her Algerian pos-
sessions and to Spain by reason of her possessions on the coasts
of Morocco.

And the Government of his Majesty, the King of Spain, hav-
ing in consequence given their adhesion to the Franco-English
declaration of the 8th of April relative to Morocco and Egypt, ■
communication of which had been made to them by the Govern-
ment of the French Republic.

Declare that they remain firmly attached to the integrity of \
the Moroccan Empire under the sovereignty of the Sultan.

This document was fairly vague. On reading it
and re-reading it, one experienced a feeling that the
two Governments had kept the essential part of it
to themselves. Undoubtedly, Spain, by adhering
to the Franco-English declaration, affirmed, together
with the two signataries of the declaration, her at-
tachment to the integrity of Morocco and to the
sovereignty of the Sultan. She also recognized that


'4t belonged to France, more peculiarly as a border
Power having a long contiguous frontier, to see that
this country remained tranquil and to lend her assist-
ance, with a view to all the economic and financial
administrative reforms required." She also de-
clared herself equally decided ^^not to hamper France-
in what might be done for this purpose, and to af-
ford her the help of Spain's diplomacy for the exe-
cution of the clauses of the present declaration."
But if France obtained this precious adhesion from
Spain, it was ''in consequence" of something else.
This something was the determination of "the ex-
tent of Spain's rights and the guarantee of her inter-
ests resulting from her possessing territory on the
coasts of Morocco." In other words, Spain's adhe-
sion corresponded to concessions from France. And
it was just on the chapter of such concessions con-
taining the essence of the agreement that nothing
was openly said. What were these secret clauses?
What rights — new ones evidently — had we ceded
to Spain? How and in what measure had the ex-
tent of these rights been fixed? How and under
what form had the guarantee of such interests been
established? These questions were left without an-

In reality, the privileged political position of
France with regard to Morocco was acknowledged by
Spain. But France consented to certain restrictions
in the exercise of her privilege, and these restrictions
were in favour of Spain, She associated Spain with
herself in her designs of peaceful penetration within


the part of Morocco where such penetration had the
greatest advantage for Spaniards. However, in this
same part, any action of Spain, during a limited
time, was subordinated to previous arrangement with
France, whereas, on her own ground, France was
obhged only to notify Spain of her initiatives. There
was no question of divided shares, but merely of an
economic cooperation, as also of the contingency of
concerted measures, with a view to the maintenance
of order in case of serious disturbance breaking out.
It was a complicated combination, which, in the
year following, had to be rendered more precise in
certain of its terms by a supplementary agreement
(September, 1905).^ Moreover, it recorded, unlike
the Franco-English and Franco-Italian arrange-
ments, a sort of purchase-out in favour of France ;
and, on the other hand, coupled Spanish projects
with French. It was positive instead of being nega-

A few months earlier, this political agreement had
been preceded by an economic understanding, which
in the future is destined to bear the best fruits, to
wit, the treaty relative to the Trans-Pyrenean rail-
ways. There is no journey more uselessly long than
that from Paris to Cadiz. A plan for remedying this
state of things had been long under consideration;
and a Franco-Spanish convention on the subject was
signed in 1885. After a series of preliminary nego-
tiations and preparatory surveys superintended on
the French side by Mr. Mille, Civil Engineer-in-
* See our book, Diplomatic Questions of the Year 1904.


Chief, two lines were mapped out, one running from
Oloron to Jaca through the Canfranc pass, the other
from Saint Girons to Lerida through the Salau pass.
It had been decided by the two Commissaries that
the two lines should be made on the same level.
Everything, therefore, was apparently settled, when
an article was published to the effect that the two
Governments were to come to an understanding as
to the date on which the convention should be sub-
mitted for Parliamentary approval. This was equiv-
alent to an indefinite postponement. The conven-
tion was never brought before the Chambers. The
ratification was never accorded. From that time
forward there were frequent attempts to take up the
matter again, but always without anything definite
being done. In 1904, however, a step forward was
taken. To the two lines first planned, a third was
proposed from Ax-les-Thermes to RipoU, shortening
the journey from Toulouse to Barcelona by three
hours. A treaty embodying the new scheme was
signed on the 18th of August, 1904, and was com-
pleted by an additional act in February, 1905. This
was a first definite effort towards economic coopera-
tion between the two countries. It would be ad-
vantageous to have others following.

The thought may occur that in the case of the
Franco-Spanish rapprochement, as in that of the
Franco-Italian, less onerous conditions might have
been secured. However, Spain, with her haughty
temperament, would not have accepted the Moroccan
developments of our Mediterranean policy, unless


satisfaction had been granted to her historic claims.
By refusing her this satisfaction, we should have
aroused her hostility. And either in Europe, in the
event of a war, or else in Morocco itself, such hostil-
ity might have become dangerous. On the contrary,
the agreement thus opportunely concluded was a
guarantee for the future, which was further strength-
ened by Great Britain's intervention. As a matter
of fact, it is not too much to say that the Franco-
English Entente was the determining cause of Spain's
throwing in her lot with Europe's Western Powers.
The marriage of Alfonso XIII with a princess of the
English Royal Family, his interviews with Edward
VII, his visits to London and Paris, confirmed this
trend of Spanish policy, which indeed was in accord-
ance with his personal preferences, since he has no
leanings towards Germany. From his stay at Ber-
lin he brought back a disagreeable impression. It
seemed to him as though attempts were being made
to astonish and daunt him ; and the result was that
he was annoyed. His presence on the throne, there-
fore, is the pledge that a policy will be followed
which, if partially caused by a somewhat naive Pan-
Latinism, none the less corresponds, in its existing
form, to the practical interests of those that it binds


On the 5th of November, 1881, when explaining
to the Chamber his Tunisian policy, Jules Ferry said :
"The Tunisian question is as old as the Algerian one.


It is contemporaneous with it. Can any good French-
man support the idea of leaving to any but a weak,
friendly, or subordinate Power the possession of a
territory which, in the full acceptation of the term,
is the key of our house ? " The necessity thus clearly
recognized by the greatest statesman of the Third
Republic, was bound to become the inspiring princi-
ple of our policy from the moment when, after the-
Algerian and Tunisian questions, that of Morocco

Situated at the extreme western end of Africa,
Morocco has remained down to our own day as a~
wreck of antiquity. During the past century, all
the various Mussulman countries have more or less
adopted our European civilization. Morocco alone
has continued a closed country, rigidly preserving
her peculiar exclusiveness. In no other spot is reli-
gious life so intense as in the Maghreb el Aksa. In
no other clime is the national life feebler. It has
been truly said that Morocco is not an empire falling
to decay, but an empire in process of birth, an em-
pire which has not succeeded in imposing a State
unity on the independent tribes that theoretically it
governs. The nature of its soil favours such inde-
pendence, which manifests itself more or less strongly
according as the reigning Sultan is more or less capa-
ble of exercising his authority, but which so far has
never been subdued, Morocco is divided into two
portions, each varying with the reach of the central
Power. The Bled el Maghzen, in a general way, com-
prises the populations of the plain, who yield obedi-


ence to functionaries appointed by the Sultan and
consent to pay a tax, which, however, is irregularly
collected. The Bled es Siba acknowledges the Sul-
tan's authority only when imposed by means of an
expedition. However, what at one moment be-
longs to the Maghzen country may very well belong
to the Siba country at another. For the last ten
centuries, it has been the lot of Moroccan Sultans to
have continually to conquer their subjects, and the
special occupation of the subjects has been that of
disobeying their sovereigns. To tell the truth, the
notion of sovereignty does not exist. Where there
is no hierarchy, it is impossible that there should be
any moral notion attaching to revolt. Morocco is a
country of feudal and theocratic anarchy; and the
disturbances that have occurred there in recent
times are merely a fresh manifestation of tendencies
that have long existed. It is Europe alone which,
first through mental assimilation, and subsequently
through political interests, has created the unity of
Morocco. In such unity there has never been either
reality or totality. What does exist is a Moorish
Empire, with which other Powers treat; but inside
the empire one finds merely tribes who, in battles or
else in incessant negotiations, seek their personal
profit only.

The Sultan Muley Hassan, who reigned from 1873
to 1894, was an energetic man who had strength-
ened his power by making war throughout his
reign. When he died, still fighting, in the course
of an expedition in the Tedla, near the Oued el Abid,


he was succeeded by his son Muley Abd el Aziz,
who, at the time, was sixteen years of age. The
Chamberlain of the dead monarch, Si Ahmed Ben
Mouga, caused the young man to be proclaimed
Emir el-Muminin, that is to say. Commander of
the Faithful. Then, thrusting into the background
the person of him whom he had just proclaimed
Sultan, he seized on the Government, which he
exercised alone. Between 1894 and 1900, he was
the sole ruler of the Empire. '^Gifted with dauntless
will, an untiring worker, eager for power and wealth," ^
he dispensed the Sultan from exercising his king-
craft, giving him people to entertain him instead of
teaching him how to reign. Abd el Aziz acquired
nothing of that virile teaching suitable for scholars
destined to a throne. When Si Ahmed died, he
had completed his twenty-second year; but was
completely lacking in maturity of mind, in method,
and in consistency. After Si Ahmed's disappear-
ance, rival influences sought to monopolize the
Government. There was that of the Sultan's
mother, that of Si el Hadj el Mokhtar ben Ahmed,
who was the secretary and successor of the deceased
vizier, and, last of all, that of Si el Mehdi el Menebhi,
who was Minister of War. This third influence
soon contrived to supplant the others. In the
month of April, 1901, Si Fedul Garnit was installed
as Grand Vizier. But, under cover of his name, it
was Menebhi who reigned and held the chief power
until his disgrace placed the Sultan in other hands.

• See Dr. F. Weisgerber's book, Three Months' Campaigning in


By his qualities as by his failings, Abd el Aziz was
utterly unfitted for the task of consolidating an
authority that was tottering to its fall. This tall
young man, of sallow complexion, with straggling
beard just beginning to grow, and a tendency to
stoutness and a certain awkwardness and timidity,
remained until he was thirty in this boyish stage.
He is good-hearted and quick of intelligence, but
possesses neither patience nor energy. His mind
is an open one, and more liberally inclined than that
of most of his subjects. He is favourable to reform
and progress, and has a friendly feeling towards
Europe, on occasion showing it. However, in all
this there is no system nor method, nothing that
resembles a policy. What Abd el Aziz likes best in
European civilization are its eccentricities. Every
one has heard of his useless acquisitions, made at
the instigation of unscrupulous advisers, to the
detriment of his budget. Billiard-tables, motor-cars,
cabs, uniforms, toy railways, balloons, cinemato-
graphs, ice machines, serving for a day and neglected
on the morrow, have filled his palace and emptied
his purse. Such frivolous amusements have shocked
native sentiment. And Abd el Aziz has been, in a
large measure, the destroyer of his own authority.
Even his good intentions have, by his own fault,
turned against him. In 1901, he tried to reform the
system of taxation, which, to tell the truth, was
iniquitous. But he suppressed the ancient taxes
before settling what could be put in their place.
The Moroccans have profited by the change, but


have obstinately resisted the new system; so that
since 1901, the Moorish Exchequer has had no
regular revenues to draw on except the Customs.
Similarly, it is the Sultan's blunders which have
encouraged successive revolts, first that of the Roghi
Bou-Hamara, then the one, at present victorious, of
Muley Hafid/

And yet Morocco is a rich country. '^Well
watered by the rains which are attracted by its high
mountains from the ocean, irrigated in its driest
parts by the waters of the ouadi which flow down
from the summits of Atlas, both its climate and its
situation make it a country more favoured by nature
than either Algeria or Tunis. To the east, the basin
of the Moulouya is barely more than a continuation
of the Oranie. At the foot of the mountains, the
oases of the Tafilat and the Oued Draa share in
the geographic conditions of the Sahara and re-
semble our finest oases of Southern Algeria. But
to the west, along the ocean, from Tangier to Atlas,
a long strip of land stretches, between fifty and a
hundred kilometres in breadth, composed of black
soil which, if ploughed by European settlers, and
if peace with an equitable system of taxation were
assured by a regular government, might become a
rich cereal-growing country. Between this coast-
zone and the mountains, extend grassy steppes
capable of supporting herds of cattle and horses,
and also of being here and there transformed by
irrigation. On the mountain plateaus, in the raised
* See Eugene Aubin's book, The Morocco of To-day.



valleys, where rain is abundant, the olive, vine, and
other fruit trees of the Mediterranean grow almost
without any cultivation. More towards the south,
between the two terminal branches of Atlas, the
Sous Valley displays its orchards and its fields.
If to this be added that a geological survey of the
Maghreb region and various traces found by travellers
encourage the belief that coal and different metals
are hidden beneath the surface of the soil, . . . one
has less surprise in remembering that, according to
Diodorus, the Phoenicians once established on the
African coast, beyond the pillars of Hercules, three
hundred factories from which they derived wealth
of all kinds."

It was only natural that France, being supreme
in Algeria, should bethink herself of the future
possibilities she saw offered to her in Morocco.
Between Algeria and the Moorish Empire, there
really exists no natural boundary. The Berber
countries form one whole. Mountains and valleys
cross the frontier; and the races are also similar,
while religious and family organization is identical
throughout. Moreover, the economic consequences
of this situation have been felt ever since a remote
past, as the following tables will show : —

1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907

France and Algeria
England ....
Germany ....























(in millions of francs)

1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907

Aggregate trade
France and

Algeria . .
England . .
Germany . .
Spain . . .































In the commercial relations of France and Morocco,
there are two characteristic reciprocal needs. France
in Africa requires Moroccan labour; and Morocco
requires French merchandise. Our trade with the
Moorish Empire consists more and more in sending
our products there. To a greater extent, therefore,
than any other Power, France must desire to see
order established over its length and breadth. She
must desire this also on behalf of her citizens who
are settled in the country. The number of French
firms that have established themselves in Morocco
is not far short of three hundred. The capita] in-
vested in trade there, exclusive of navigation com-
panies, is about thirty million francs. For the most
part, the French tradespeople residing in the Em-
pire are modest workers, small folk who have emi-
grated to get a living, — market-gardeners, bakers,
restaurant-keepers, grocers, bricklayers, mechanics,
— who, by dint of toiling hard, earn on the Moroccan
soil enough to furnish themselves with subsistence.
The duty of the French Government as regards
their protection cannot therefore be disputed.


Moreover, political interest, still more imperious
than economic interest, compels France to occupy
herself with Moroccan affairs. Enough has already-
been said to show how radical the anarchy is which
prevails throughout the land. On account of
Morocco's proximity to Algeria, and the geographic,
ethnographic, and religious unity of the two coun-
tries, such anarchy is a constant menace to our
colony's tranquillity. All the various Algerian
agitators, Abd el Kader, Ulad Sidi Cheikh, Bou
Amama, have used Morocco as an operating base
against us. Order in Morocco is consequently
necessary for order to reign in Algeria. A fortiori,
we ought to have the assurance that this already
redoubtable spontaneous anarchy shall not be
aggravated by European instigation, using it and
keeping it up against us.

Thus is determined the necessary policy which is
imposed on the French Government. They desire
that order shall reign in Morocco. They desire
further that no European Power shall acquire there
a preponderant influence which might threaten to
compromise our situation in Africa, and in the
Mediterranean, and, as a consequence, our situation
in Europe. The defence of this double interest —
with the maintenance of order as its positive portion
and the exclusion of foreign influence as its negative
one — such, with regard to Morocco, must be the
rule of French action.

During many years, our action in the country
was uncertain in its aim and fluctuating in its ,


methods. On the morrow of the conquest of Al-
giers, the battle of Isly, the bombardment of Tan-
gier and of Mogador, demonstrated our military-
power to the Moroccans. But this work of repres-
sion was not politically utilized. The Treaty of
Lalla-Marnia of 1845, indeed, revealed the Govern-
ment's hesitations by the lack of precision in its
clauses. In proportion as Oran was more thickly
colonized, the inconveniences resulting were in-
creasingly felt. Continual aggressions, which caused
long controversies, troubled the security of our
dependent population. And the claims that our
Ministers in Tangier were each year called upon to
defend, produced no other effect than that of giving
the Moorish Power, though without the least prac-
tical efficacy on our frontiers, an artificial existence.
By virtue of our "right of pursuit," inscribed in the
Treaty of 1845, and in agreement with the Maghzen,
France sent several punitive expeditions into Moroc-
can territory, that of General de Wimpffen in 1870,
those of 1881 and 1882, owing to the revolt of Bou
Amama. For nearly half a century, however, she
confined herself to isolated measures without seeking
to reach the evil in its source and to prepare a last-
ing remedy. Not until 1900, and then only after
successive rebounds and under the pressure of
circumstances, did the French Government, by
deciding to occupy the Touat region, take the pre-
cautionary measures requisite for the defence of our
southern frontier. A year later, Mr. Revoil, the
Governor-General of Algeria, being convinced that


this occupation would be without lasting effect, if
conquest were not followed by organization, entered
into negotiations with the Moroccan Government
which resulted in the Treaty of the 20th of July,
1901, this latter becoming thenceforward the basis
of our policy.

The agreement — which, as indicated in the word-
ing of its preamble, was intended to ''consolidate
the bonds of friendship existing between the two
Governments and to develop their reciprocal good
relations by establishing them, on the one hand, on
the guarantee of the Moorish Empire's integrity, and,
on the other, on the improvement of the frontier
situation, in which both were immediately interested,
by all such detailed arrangements as the said frontier
situation might necessitate" — instituted a veritable
cooperation between the two neighbouring Govern-
ments. Without seeking to fix an absolutely im-
movable boundary line amidst limitless sands and
wandering tribes, an exchange of good offices was
provided for, both as regards police, and the regula-
tion of trade and Customs. A Franco-Moroccan
Commission proceeded to the place ; and, in order
to facilitate its labours, a second agreement was
signed at Algiers on the 20th of April, 1902, ''with a
view to securing permanent peace, safety, and
commercial progress." The first article said: "The
Moorish Government engage, by all possible means,
throughout the extent of their territory from the
mouth of the Oued Kiss to Figuig, to consolidate the
authority of their Maghzen such as it has been exer-


cised over the Moroccan tribes since the Treaty of
1845. The French Government, by reason of their
frontier situation, will lend their aid to this task
in any and every case of need. The French Govern-
ment will establish their authority and a condition
of peace throughout the Sahara regions, and the
neighbouring Moroccan Government will help in this
by every means in their power." It was further
stipulated that a triple line of markets, — French,
mixed, and Moroccan, — with a corresponding col-
lection of dues, should be created between Morocco
and Algeria. The French Government pledged
themselves to pay the Maghzen each year a sum
equivalent to the Customs duties accruing from the
merchandise entering Algeria from Morocco between
Figuig and the Teniet es Sassi. A supplementary
agreement, dated the 7th of May, 1902, rendered
more precise certain of the clauses in the previous

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Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 8 of 22)