New Book – The Rif in the time of the Spanish protectorate 1912 – 1956 (Marginal colonialism)

“The Rif in the time of the Spanish Protectorate 1912 – 1956” title of a book in Arabic, by Moroccan researcher Mimoun Aziza, in which he tackles a crucial period of the Rif area history, by shedding light on some characteristics of the Spanish colonialism in the North of Morocco, and attempting to define the nature of that colonial experience different from the French one.

The author covers the Spanish protectorate period in Morocco, by focusing more on the period extended from 1928 to 1956, basically under the pretext of the Rif community’s integration almost totally in the process of colonial economy at its highest development pace.

In this context, the book includes three parts, first “The Rif at the beginning of the twentieth century: The foundation for imposed colonial economy”, in which the author talks about issues related to domain, population and the infiltration of colonial economy, the outcome of Spanish colonialism in Morocco and Spanish investments in its protectorate area.

+ Social transformations and the birth of paid workers +

The second part, however, entitled “The Rif community in the confrontation of colonialism 1928 – 1956, the author handles social and economic structures in the North of Morocco: Transformation and aspects of the resistance and the crisis of colonial economy and the Kaliphate area, during the period between 1936 – 1942.

In the third part, about “Morocco under the Kaliphate in the aftermath of the Second World War: Social transformations and the birth of paid workers (1942 – 1956), the book talks about demographic growth, urban transformations and the emergence of a new social category – paid workers category – in the Rif.

If Spanish colonialism in Morocco was in fact a controversial issue, due to conflicting opinions and points of view, especially with its overall evaluation, among Spanish writers and researchers; however, the author sees that the Spanish presence in Morocco was characterized, in general, by some particularities related to Spanish economic and political conditions from one hand; and by the Spanish Moroccan common historical legacy on the other hand. Those concerted factors have contributed to the elaboration of a colonial policy different from the French one.

From this perspective, the book aims at reaching several goals including the disintegration of historical roots of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco, defining the reasons behind Spain’s interest in an influence area in the North of Morocco, clarifying characteristics of the Spanish colonialism and why it has remained marginal? Concluding in this regard that achievements of that occupation and its impacts look fade compared with the French one though they have lasted along over the same period.

Due to its marginal aspect, Spanish colonialism has not enjoyed enough academic interest, not only by Moroccan researchers, but also by foreign interested academics with the progress of Moroccan society and the state; while the goals of that book/research are multifaceted among them: clarifying the reasons which have made of this colonialism a marginal one from its beginning until its end, in its essence and actions, and presenting its modest goals in comparison with the French one; and also appointing at the emergent transformation on the Rif community during a half century period.

The book, which is actually a PhD thesis, presented by Maimoun Aziza to get his PhD from the University of Paris VIII in 1994, under the title “The Rif from the Spanish Protectorate, marginalization and social transformation: The emergence of paid work” to lay down development mechanism and what resulted of implications that have affected structures, mentality and allegiance .. the relationship with the central state, and the extension to the protectorate state after its withdrawal.

+ Colonialism of the poor +

The work in our hands is renovating in many aspects by focusing on economic implications resulted in imposing a protectorate system on different ways of life especially on the issue of paid work, and also in the fact that former studies have focused more on political and administrative levels and barely have gone deeper than that as it was included in the book preface presented drafted by Pro. Abdelmajid Benjelloun.

It seems that the strongest points in the book made up of 401 pages of a big size and translated by Mohamed Hatimiand Jamal Heimir, published by “crossroads” in 2021, with the sponsor of the council of Moroccan community abroad, is the elaboration of social structures of the Rif population; and because of interactive components which have made local populations been subject to foreign aggression, that was the secret behind the resistance power and its perseverance until after the truce phase.

In general, the Rif populations have borne a negative image of the Spanish presence led by a military junta; we are dealing with a colonialism that prefer to be called “colonialism of the poor”, lacking financial means to create wealth, where the image of the flattering and poor Spaniadwas spread. The overall outcome was very meager and the area has remained with less necessary infrastructures and with no economic take-off; transportation means between the Eastern and Western area of the colonial power were very modest.

After the end of the Protectorate roads network has not exceeded more than 2000 km, and railways 230 km, at the time the industrial sector was very limited like social equipment, not to talk about the fiasco in the economic, education and health fields.

Whereas, Spain has largely invested more in the security to the extent that check-up points and military casernes were over present in all places, even in remote rural areas.

In general, as the author has come to conclusion in his book supported by photo captions about that period and with a bibliography in Arabic and other foreign languages – the Spanish presence in Morocco was characterized by a military aspect in principle, as the army controlled political decision-making, and oriented economic policy; therefore aspects of the Spanish policies in Morocco have brought about the importance of security problems; and so all of area rehabilitation, administrative management, social and economic developments have been delayed.

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