Reginald Rankin.

In Morocco with General d'Amade online

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for a similar experience in 1908?

If France retires from Morocco, will her retire-
ment make for peace in Europe ? The interior of
Morocco is now far on the way to become dangerous
for Europeans for a generation, and it is practi-
cally certain that if the French withdraw few
mercliants will continue to live even in the coast
towns. At any moment a massacre of Europeans
nught occur. Under such conditions, and though


we ourselves might hold back from undertaking
any punitive expedition in accordance with the
spirit of the entente cordiale of 1904, it may be
taken for certain that Germany would intervene
to protect her growing interests. We have seen
how Kiao-Chao was occupied to avenge the murder
of German missionaries. If German traders perished
at the hands of a Moorish mob, would Germany
refrain from seeking territorial compensation in
order to rely on the pledges of a bankrupt Govern-
ment ? It is a moot point whether it would be
more harmful to England to see the German flag
at Tangier or at the mouth of the Scheldt ; and
if Pan-German dreams are realised it will be all
essential for Germany — having become a Mediter-
ranean Power by the restoration of the Old Holy
Roman Empire — to occupy some half-way house
between Wilhelmshafen and Pola. Tangier dere-
lict would become as veritable an apple of discord
as Capetown would have been if the Vierkleur
had been planted on Table Mountain. We must
not forget that even President Kruger wished that
the coasts of a United South Africa should be
guaranteed by the British Fleet.

It is beside the question to point to the failures
of Germany in the South-West African war.
Well-watered Morocco is within six days' steam
of Bremen, and though under the Imperial Consti-
tution her army would necessarily have to be com-
posed of volunteers, yet the success which has


attended German colonisation in Palestine would
lead many a man to take his chance of receiving a
grant of land in the Chaouiya. British interests,
so far as commerce is concerned, would suffer as
much under German domination as they could
possibly do under the most rigid French tariffs.
English merchants in Morocco are for ever quoting
the treatment of English traders in Madagascar.
Perhaps they do not always remember what befell
the Australian firms trading with the Marshall
Islands, nor must we forget that Madagascar like
Algeria is a French Colony, whilst Tunis ranks as a
Protectorate. Morocco flanks our sea-road to India
by the Cape, and that sea-road is now more than
ever important since the Suez Canal is divided from
the Hedjaz Railway but by a thin screen of desert.
It is far safer for England to see Morocco in French
hands than in those of a Power which is straining
every nerve to compete with us on the seas. More
than one port on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco
might be turned by German engineers into a
potential Brest or into a potential Cadiz.

Is it true, indeed, that English trade would
necessarily suffer from a French occupation of
Morocco ? The same outcry was made by the
French financial interests in the entourage of the
Khedivial Court when England occupied Egypt ;
yet French holdings in Egyptian securities are now
far larger than they were in 1882, whilst we have
only to look at Algiers to see that the trade be-


tween Cardiff and that port has increased by leaps
and bounds during the last quarter of a century.
Nor have our Maltese fellow-subjects lost by the
annexation of Tunis. The case of Madagascar
remains, and in many ways it is not unlike tliat
of Morocco.

It must be remembered that in all such countries
there are two classes of trade ; the one carried on
by the great firms who have been in the country
for generations, conducted by men who can best be
paralleled by the Merchant Princes of Hong-Kong,
the other that illegitimate sort which finds an
opening in a country where the native Government
is weak yet oppressive and corrupt. Such is the
class of trade which is checked by the establish-
ment of French law and order in Madagascar, as
it was put an end to in a measure by the English
occupation of Egypt. Has our own Government
always recognised the land purchases made from
natives in our Colonies ?

It should be perfectly possible for us to come to
an arrangement with France under the clauses of
the Act of Algeciras respecting equal opportunities
for commerce, and if these conditions were observed,
our traders already established there could only be
the gainers if they were able to run over to Algiers
or Gran in the sleeping cars of a "Rapide" from

France, on the other hand, must occupy Morocco
eventually, not only to prevent the estabUshment


of some other European Power on her Algerian
frontier, but also to avoid the unrest which her
withdrawal from Morocco would produce through-
out her African dominions. If ever we had wished
to occupy Morocco ourselves, and there can be no
doubt that at one time we could have done so,
that moment is passed, and if France will come
to an arrangement with us about our commerce
we shall be in no sense the losers. We do not
see the "younger son" (unless he has got a
berth under Government) or the Cluirch Army
emigrant crowding to Egypt, to Cyprus, or to the
Soudan ; whereas a walk down the streets of Casa-
blanca will show the most casual observer how
many small capitalists from France, Algeria, and
Spain have flocked into the place since the bom-
bardment. Would it be possible for a youth from
an English public school, or London office, to com-
pete witli these men in a land where the usual
language of business is Spanish or Arabic, and
where the conditions of living are radically different
from those of an English town ?

If France, by occupying Morocco, gives the
immigrants security of tenure, she will find
colonists flocking in from her whole Mediter-
ranean seaboard. A French occupation will mean
the construction of roads and railways, whilst in
time a quick line of steamers may enable the early
vegetables of the Chaouiya and Mogador to be
placed on the markets of Paris and London. Ex-


periments made at Laraclie sliow tliat good wine
can be grown, but for the present agriculturists
in this part of Morocco must rely upon cereals. If
the present uncertainty continues, investors will be
as shy of the country as they are of Cyprus.

It is true that a certain class of Germans might
make good settlers in Morocco. Her Ilanseatic
traders acclimatise themselves to Moroccan sur-
roundings much more readily than Englishmen,
whilst the peasants from Wurtemburg, who liave
covered the plains round Jaffa with orange gardens
and vineyards, might well prove equally successful
in North Africa. We have no equivalent class in
England. In how many of our Colonies are the
vine and the olive grown by Englishmen from
England ? A boy must have capital and leisure
to study their culture on the Continent ; and South
Germans, with their hereditary knowledge, would
have a better chance than our own people of mak-
ing a livelihood in Morocco. Germany, therefore,
would have every inducement to step in where
France had refused to tread.

M. Victor Bdrard in the Revue de Pcwis for
November 15, 1907, has proposed a solution of the
Moroccan question, which has not, apparently, as
yet attracted much attention in England.

M. Bdrard suggests that if Germany agrees to
allow France to have a free hand in Morocco she
should in return receive French and Englisli finan-
cial support in prolonging the Asia Minor Eailway


from Eregli to Basra, thus giving her a firm grip
on the fertile plains of Cilicia and Mesopotamia.
He would have the country between Basra and
the mouth of the Shatt-el-Arab, so far at least
as the railway and river are concerned, placed
under an International Commission which should
be formed on the lines of that for the Danube,
and which should deal with all matters concern-
ing transport and the care of the river channel,
whilst nominally respecting the sovereignty of
the riverain Powers, Turkey and Persia. Thus
the dangers of the establishment of a fortified
port under a non-English flag on the Persian
Gulf would be obviated, and the Germans would
be more than compensated for their self-denial
in Morocco. The Karun River might, M. Berard
suggests, be included in this arrangement.

The su2:g;estion has much to recommend it
to those who know that Germany might, in the
end, easily find a way to carry a railway to
the Persian Gulf without touching Koweyt. The
claim of the Sheikh of Koweyt to control the
Khor Abdullah or any portion of the western
bank of the Shatt-el-Arab below Basra is, to
say the least of it, shadowy. Under the Anglo-
Russian agreement as to Persia the ports of
]\Iohammera and Bushire are left in the neutral
zone ; whilst it must not be forgotten that not
only have tlie Shah and the Persian Government
refused to recognise that agreement, but that


it would be perfectly possible for them to grant
a concession to a German company to carry a
line to either of those harbours from the Turkish
frontier. The construction of such a line would
no doubt be difficult and costly, but it would
in no sense be impossible. It is plain, therefore,
that Germany can find means to reach the
Persian Gulf without our consent so far as merely
political considerations are concerned ; but since in
the present condition of the German and American
money markets it might be difficult for her to
find money for the Bagdad Railway without our
help, it might be well that the arrangement
suggested by M. Victor Berard should receive

We should, in the long run, lose far more if
France now withdraws from Morocco, than we
should risk by coming to an arrangement with
Germany about the Bagdad Railway.

France is a great Mohammedan Power, and
we dare not allow her to become degraded in
the eyes of Islam.

Near the Opera House at Vienna an inscribed
stone is placed in the facade of a stately building.
That stone marks the place where once stood
that Carinthian Gate where in 1529 the final
assault of the Turks was beaten back by the
Viennese burghers. There the Turkish deluge
reached its high-water mark. There those proud
waves were stayed. For years the flood stood


still, till, after the victory of Lepanto, it ebbed
away almost as quickly as it had flowed. Islam
is now once more waking from its secular slumber
and bracing itself to defend its few remaining
sanctuaries. Is this the time for France to shrink
back from Fez and from Marrakesh, and thus to
show the world where her conquests in Africa have
found their limit? All Europe w^ould, beyond a
doubt, feel the effects of such a policy.

If France consents to grant an open door to
European trade in Morocco she can occupy the
country with the cordial consent of every Power
except Germany. No doubt in her colonies she
adopts a different system ; but, even now, the
policy of the Open Door is to a certain extent
in force in Tunis, which is separated by a customs
line from Algeria, where there is a more stringent
tariff. Bona-fide Moroccan and Algerian produce
might be allowed to cross such a line, were one
established between Morocco and Algeria, without
payment of duty, on the same principle by which
Mozambique produce enters the Transvaal free
under the Treaty with Portugal of 1878. Thus
the Moroccan trade with Oran could be carried
on without impediment.

In her Algerian population and in her Algerian
troops France has the instruments for garrisoning
and administering the country without unneces-
sarily galling the feelings of the inhabitants. Has
Germany such men or are German methods of


administration those which could be apphed to
such a task ? A Morocco governed on the prin-
ciples in force in Posen would be a constant menace
to the peace of the whole Mohammedan world.
It is true that for some years German traders
made great progress in Morocco, where, for a time,
they competed both with the French and the
English, but they have sustained a great blow
from the events of the last few months, and,
despite the help which they have received from
their Government, it is doubtful whether, as a
body, they are in a very solid position to-day.
On the other hand, French and English commerce
cannot be said to compete with one another in
Morocco. If the English are the masters of the
market for cottons and teas, the French have the
supply of silks and sugars in their hands, and
though German traders import all four classes of
goods, it cannot be said that their cheajDer wares
have as yet won the favour of the Moors. Our
fellow-subjects from Gibraltar find nothing to
complain of in their treatment by the French
authorities, nor are they excluded from competing
for contracts with the French troops. At Casa-
blanca, at all events, English merchants cannot
be dissatisfied with the management of the Custom
House. All they ask is that tranquillity should
be restored and that the interior should once more
be opened up to trade.

If France would consent to occupy Morocco as


we occupy Egypt — that is, to hold the country as
a veiled Protectorate in which equal opportunities
for commerce are granted to all nationalities — she
might, like ourselves in Burmah, have to face ten
years of brigandage. At the end of twenty years
Morocco, in all human probability, would be as
peaceful as Algeria to-day. Fez and Mogador
would vie with Nice and Algiers as resorts of the
fashionable world, and roads and railways would
penetrate the gorges of the Atlas and the sands
of the Sahara. Possibly even that daydream of
French engineers would have been realised, and
passengers to South America would reach Dakar
by express from Ceuta and be borne by quick
turbine steamers in five days to Pernambuco.

Let France remember that if Spain and Por-
tugal had been willing to grant the Open Door to
the world's trade in South America, their Kings
would still be the lords of Mexico, of Buenos
Ayres, and of Bio. It was to secure permanently
to English commerce those advantages which it had
enjoyed in Brazil during the Peninsular war that
Mr. Canning effected the rise of the Latin-Ameri-
can Republics, and suggested to President Monroe
the promulgation of the doctrine which bears his
name. It was mainly because the " Tunisifica-
tion " of Morocco threatened to close a door open
to German trade that the Kaiser made his speech
at Tangier. Let France grant that Open Door
in })erpetuity, instead of for the thirty years stipu-


lated for by Lord Lansdowne in 1904. Her
liberality will gain her a splendid heritage, and
by winning Morocco for civilisation she will confer
a benefit upon the world.

The recent action of Germany with regard to
the recognition of Mulai Hafid certainly, I think,
tends to prove the correctness of the views advanced
in the foregoing chapter. It was clear from the
moment when the report of the transfer of her
Minister Dr. Rosen from Tangier to another post
was officially contradicted that the Wilhelmstrasse
had not wholly laid aside its interest in Morocco,
and it cannot but be significant that this new
awakening of German activity coincides with the
passage of influence at Constantinople into British
hands. It cannot be doubted that the main object
of Germany in European as opposed to Asiatic
Turkey has been to secure the construction under
Austrian control of the railway through the Sanjak
of Novibazar from the Bosnian frontier at Uvatz to
Mitrovitza, thus opening out a direct road from
Hamburg to Salonika, and rendering Macedonia,
in itself one of the most fertile districts in Europe,
accessible to German penetration. This project has
always been openly opposed by Russia, and has
never been approved by Italy, who sees that were
it carried out the great Albanian harbours would
pass into Austrian hands. France, also, and Eng-
land have small reason to favour the growth of
German power in the Mediterranean. It cannot


be said that the hne through the Sanjak of
Novibazar is of any special economic importance to
Turkey itself, and it is stated that it is very un-
popular amongst the Albanians, who form a large
portion of the population of the district. Conse-
quently it is not to be wondered at if the advent
of the Anglophile young Turkish party should in
some measure contribute to delay the realisation
of this dream ; for Austria from a strictly legal
standpoint has so far only obtained a concession for
carrying out a preliminary survey in connection
with the line. The German Emperor has long been
looked upon as the mainstay of the Sultan's des-
potism, and a Constitutional Turkey is as little
likely to do anything to favour German designs as
William III. would have been to effect an Anglo-
French entente cordiale after the revolution of
1688. But England is, on the other hand, regarded
by them as their chief supporter, and it is natural,
therefore, that the present Turkish Ministry should
do everything in their power to promote her wishes
real or supposed. Reports have already appeared that
the Turkish Railway Commission has determined to
postpone the construction of the Novibazar line on
the ground that other railways are of more pressing
importance to Turkey. Can we wonder then if the
German Emperor has taken advantage of the exist-
ing state of affairs at Fez to enter upon a course of
action which might, amongst other consequences,
bring about friction between France and England ?


Few foreigners have ever really understood the
personal equation in the practical working of our
political system, and it is quite conceivable that the
Kaiser's advisers may, in view of several recent
occurrences, see a tendency amongst certain sections
of English politicians to slacken in our intimacy
with France. It cannot be denied, moreover, that
local English opinion in Morocco itself is far from
being keenly in favour of the entente, and inclines
rather to a common action with Germany in order
to preserve the Open Door. Moreover, until the
German Fleet is ready Germany must necessarily
favour the internationalising rather than the
nationalising by European Powers of semi-civilised
countries, and just as she is opposing the annexa-
tion of Spitzbergen by either Sweden or Norway,
so she is endeavouring under cover of the Act of
Algeciras, glossed to suit herself, to retard the
absorption of Morocco by France. This is by no
means inconsistent with the view that she is hoping
to secure concessions at Constantinople by exercis-
ing pressure at Fez, and it is for English statesmen
to consider whether it is a wise policy for us to
come forward on every occasion as the opponents
of German efforts for commercial extension. It is,
as yet, too early to say whether or not Turkey is
secure against a reaction to despotism, but it may
well be asked if Salonika as a great trading port in
the hands of a constitutional Sultan would really
prove a menace to our interests or to those of


France. The same remark applies to the construc-
tion of a railway to the Persian Gulf through
Turkish territory.

Moreover, in the case of Salonika, we must not
forget that it lies on the road from Vienna to the
Pirffius. Greece, no friend of Germany, is the only
country in Europe which is not connected with the
European railway system ; and yet, if the missing
link were filled up, and if certain disadvantages in
the harbour could be corrected, the Piraeus would
be the natural terminus for every steamship plying
between Europe and the East. Would the opening
up of Greece and Macedonia be an injury to our
trade, or a price too great for France to pay for the
removal of the Moroccan danger ? She, like our-
selves, has often baffled German colonial ambitions,
and Germany has gained little by the recent settle-
ment of the boundary between the Cameroons and
French Congo. Yet it is believed on good grounds
that the Kaiser would never have set foot in
Tangier had Germany received the mouths of
certain rivers in those regions which were in
dispute between herself and France. The history
of the Sibylline books is true even in our own day,
and balked ambition offctimes turns to greed. The
story of the Hohenzollerns is not unlike that of the
Capetian House.

If England consents to make some such sacrifices
as those here suggested in order to give France a
free hand in Morocco, it would seem obvious that


we should have a right to expect some return from
her gratitude.

France at no real cost to herself could grant us
one concession, which would have a great value for
our Indian Empire.

Recent events, such as the Abu Musa incident,
have shown that the Persian Gulf has come into
the sphere of international politics. It is clear
that our present methods of securing the " Pax
Britannica " in those once pirate-haunted waters
are gradually becoming obsolete, and that an
aggressive diplomacy in search of coaling stations
may be inclined to pass over our agreements both
with the Trucial Chiefs and with the Sultanate of
Oman. Moreover, if the common belief be correct,
the traders in contraband arms who this summer
have conveyed such large consignments of modern
weapons into Afghanistan by a road which, though
running through Persian territory, lies for many
miles within sight of our Baluch border, found a
convenient basis m the ports of that Sultanate,
Nor must we forget that until very lately the
Slave Trade was kept alive in the Indian Ocean
by dhows sailing from Muscat under the French
flag, and thus a source of constant friction was
created between the French and English Foreign

It is true that we have treaty arrangements
with the Sultan of Oman, who could not cede any
portion of his territory to a third power without


our consent. Experience has shown, however, that
such conditions are very difficult to enforce. We
have had to proclaim a Protectorate, for example,
over the island of Socotra, although we had made
a similar treaty with its suzerain, a sultan in
Hadramaut. Trouble, too, has arisen at Muscat
itself on previous occasions with regard to grants
of land for coal depots.

The reason why we cannot complete our hold
over the southern and eastern coasts of Arabia,
between the limits of our Aden Protectorate and
those of the Turkish possessions on the Persian
Gulf, by proclaiming a Protectorate over Oman, is
that we are bound by a treaty with France dated
March 10, 1862, to refrain from any such action.

Oman and Zanzibar were under one sultan from
the time when the Portuguese were finally expelled
from East Africa by a Sultan of Muscat in 1698
until the year 1856. In that year they became
divided into two independent sovereignties. France
was seeking, at that time, to create bases on the
East African and Arabian coasts, and Lord Palmer-
ston's Government therefore thought it wise to come
to an arrangement with her by which both powers
agreed to respect the integrity of the territories of
Zanzibar and Oman.

Lord Salisbury apparently had forgotten the
existence of this treaty when in 1890 we occu-
pied Zanzibar under the Anglo- German agreement.
France at once protested, and only consented to


acquiesce in our occupation on our recognising her
rights over Madagascar without reserve.

The clauses which relate to Oman are still,
however, in force.

If we could secure our position on the coasts of
Oman and Hadramaut we should be freed from
the danger of seeing a third and possibly hostile
power establish a naval base at some port in those
regions, which, as the late Mr. Theodore Bent
proved, possess several havens within a compara-
tively short distance of Bombay adapted for such
a purpose. Would it be any great sacrifice for
France to make if she allowed us to proclaim a
Protectorate over Oman in exchange for our help
in Morocco ? Legitimate French trade would in
no wise suffer, and it can hardly be thought that
the interests of a handful of gun-runners, even if
they chanced to be French subjects, would be
of sufiicient importance to prevent the French

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Online LibraryReginald RankinIn Morocco with General d'Amade → online text (page 17 of 18)