History of Morocco
In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn
Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. His delegates went to what is now Morocco, which he called "Maghreb
al Aqsa" or "The Far West," in the year 683. The delegates supported the assimilation process that took about a century.
What became modern Morocco in the seventh century, was an area of Berbers influenced by the Arabs,
who brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states and kingdoms such as
the Kingdom of Nekor and Barghawata, sometimes after long-running series of civil wars. Under Idris ibn Abdallah who founded
the Idrisid Dynasty, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and
the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus. The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of learning and
a major regional power.
Roman and pre-Roman Morocco
The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean, as this strategic
region formed part of the Roman Empire, as Mauretania Tingitana. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire declined, the region
fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greeks in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains
of most of modern Morocco remained unsubdued, and stayed in the hands of their Berber inhabitants.
Nationalist political parties, which subsequently arose under the French protectorate, based their
arguments for Moroccan independence on such World War II declarations as the Atlantic Charter (a joint U.S.-British statement
that set forth, among other things, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they live). A manifesto
of the Istiqlal Party (Independence party in English) in 1944 was one of the earliest public demands for independence. That
party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.
France's exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed
Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French protectorate all over the country.
The most notable occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. Operations
by the newly created "Jaish al-tahrir" (Liberation Army), were launched on October 1, 1955. Jaish al-tahrir was created by
"Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe" (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement
against occupation. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeria and Tunisia as well. France allowed
Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year.
All those events helped increase the degree of solidarity between the people and the newly returned
king. For this reason, the revolution that Morocco knew was called "Taourat al-malik wa shaab" (The revolution of the King
and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.