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Hassan II of Morocco

Hassan II
الحسن الثاني
Amir al-Mu'minin
Hassan II in 1983
King of Morocco
Reign26 February 1961 – 23 July 1999
PredecessorMohammed V
SuccessorMohammed VI
Prime Ministers
Born(1929-07-09)9 July 1929
Dar al-Makhzen, Rabat, Morocco
Died23 July 1999(1999-07-23) (aged 70)
Rabat, Morocco
Burial
SpousePrincess Lalla Latifa
Issue
Names
Hassan bin Mohammed bin Yusef al-Alawi
الحسن بن محمد بن يوسف العلوي
Arabicالحسن الثاني
DynastyAlawi
FatherMohammed V
MotherLalla Abla bint Tahar
ReligionSunni Islam
Signature
Education
Military career
Allegiance Morocco
 France (1952)
Service/branchRoyal Moroccan Armed Forces
French Navy (1952)
RankField Marshal
Battles/wars

Hassan II (Arabic: الحسن الثاني, romanizedal-Ḥasan aṯ-ṯhānī; 9 July 1929 – 23 July 1999) was King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999.

A member of the 'Alawi dynasty, he was the eldest son of Sultan Mohammed V, and his second wife, Lalla Abla bint Tahar. He was named crown prince in 1957 and was the first commander-in-chief of the Royal Armed Forces. He was enthroned as king in 1961 following his father's death.

Hassan's reign was marked by the start of the Western Sahara conflict and the Sand War. He was the target of two failed coups d'état in 1971 and in 1972. Hassan's conservative approach reportedly strengthened his rule over Morocco and the Western Sahara.[1] He was accused of authoritarian practices and human rights, civil rights abuses, particularly during the Years of Lead. A truth commission was set up after his death, to investigate allegations of human rights violations during his reign.

Early life and education

Hassan studying at the Royal College in 1943

Mawlay al-Hassan bin Mohammed bin Yusef al-Alawi was born on 9 July 1929 at the Dar al-Makhzen in Rabat, during the French protectorate in Morocco, as the eldest son to Sultan Mohammed V and his second wife, Lalla Abla bint Tahar, as a member of the 'Alawi dynasty.[2][3][4]

He first studied Islamic sciences at the Dar al-Makhzen in Fez. He then became a student at the Royal College in Rabat, where instruction was conducted in Arabic and French and a class was created for him. Mehdi Ben Barka was notably his mathematics teacher for four years at the Royal College.[5][6][7] In June 1948, he obtained his baccalaureate from the Royal College.[8]

Hassan pursued his higher education at the Rabat Institute of Higher Studies, a department of the University of Bordeaux, from where he received a law degree in 1951.[9] In 1952, he earned a master's degree in public law from the University of Bordeaux before serving in the French Navy on board the Jeanne d'Arc cruiser.[4][10][11][12] He was a doctoral student at the Faculty of Law of Bordeaux in 1953, when his family's exile occurred.[13][14] After having ascended the throne, on 25 June 1963, Dean Lajugie presented him with the insignia of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Bordeaux.[14]

Heir to the throne

Hassan and his father Sultan Mohammed V, 1950

In 1943, a twelve-year-old Hassan attended the Casablanca Conference at the Anfa Hotel along with his father, where he met United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Charles de Gaulle.[15][16] In 1947, he attended his father's speech in what was then the Tangier International Zone. In the speech, Sultan Mohammed wished for the French and Spanish protectorates and the Tangier International Zone to be unified into one nation.[17] The speech became a reference for Moroccan nationalists and anti-colonial movements and later led to Morocco's independence.[18]

Hassan later claimed that he had "profound resentment" towards the protectorate and that he felt "deep humiliation" from French colonialism.[19] Despite paying hommage to Hubert Lyautey, the first resident-general of the French protectorate, he was highly critical of Lyautey's successors, noting their "stubborn stupidity" and "total insensitivity".[19][6]

Hassan and his family were forced into exile by French authorities on 20 August 1953, being deported to Zonza in Corsica. Their deportation led to protests and further fueled the anti-colonial movement.[17] They moved to the city of L'Île-Rousse and lived at the Napoléon Bonaparte hotel for five months before being transferred to Antsirabe, Madagascar in January 1954.[20][21] During this time, Mohammed Ben Aarafa was named sultan in Morocco by the French government.[a][22][23]

Prince Hassan acted as his father's political advisor during their exile. They returned to Morocco on 16 November 1955.[4][24] He participated with his father in the February 1956 negotiations for Moroccan independence.[4] Following Morocco's independence from France, his father named him commander-in-chief of the newly founded Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in April 1956.[4] The same year, he led army contingents to victory after defeating rebel militias during the Rif revolt.[25] It was during his tenure as commander-in-chief that he met General Mohamed Oufkir,[26][27][4] who became Minister of Defense during his reign.[28] Oufkir was later suspected of orchestrating a failed coup d'état to kill Hassan.[29]

After Mohammed V changed the title of the Moroccan sovereign from Sultan to King in 1957, Hassan was proclaimed Crown Prince on 9 July 1957.[30][31] In this position, he was the president of the organising committee of the International Meeting at the monastery of Toumliline in 1957 and gave a welcome speech.[32]

Reign

On 26 February 1961, Hassan became King of Morocco after his father's death from heart failure following a minor surgery.[4][5][33] He also inherited the position of prime minister.[4] His enthronement took place at the Royal Palace of Rabat on 3 March 1961.[10]

Domestic policy

Hassan greeting the public on his way to prayer in Marrakesh, 1966

In 1962, Hassan and his aides wrote the Kingdom of Morocco's first constitution, defining the kingdom as a social and democratic constitutional monarchy, making Islam the state religion, and creating the title of Amir al-Mu'minin and "supreme representative of the nation" for the king, whose person was defined as "inviolable and sacred". The constitution also reaffirmed a multi-party political system, the only one which existed in the Maghreb at that time.[34][5] The constitution provoked strong political protest from the UNFP and the Istiqlal and other leftist parties that formed the opposition at the time.[35]

Hassan's reign was infamous for a poor human rights record labeled as "appalling" by the BBC.[36] It was however, at its worst during the period from the 1960s to the late 1980s, which was labelled as the "years of lead"[37][38] and saw thousands of dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared. The country would only become relatively freer by the early 1990s under strong international pressure and condemnation over its human rights record. Since then, Morocco's human rights record has improved modestly and improved significantly during the reign of Hassan's successor Mohammed VI.[citation needed] In 2004, the Equity and Reconciliation Commission was created by Mohammed to investigate human rights abuses during his father's reign.[39][40]

Hassan imprisoned many members of the National Union of Popular Forces and sentenced some party leaders, including Mehdi Ben Barka, to death.[5] A series of student protests began on 21 March 1965 in Casablanca, and devolved into general riots the following day; the resulting violent repression led to hundreds of deaths. In the aftermath, on 26 March, Hassan gave a speech that he concluded with: "There is no greater danger to a country than a so-called intellectual; it would have been better if you had all been illiterate."[5][41][42]

In June, he dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution of 1962, declaring a state of exception that would last more than five years, in which he ruled Morocco directly; however, he did not completely abolish the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy.[43][44][5] An alleged report from the U.S. Secretary of State claimed that, during this period, "Hassan [appeared] obsessed with the preservation of his power rather than with its application toward the resolution of Morocco's multiplying domestic problems."[35]

In October 1965, Mehdi Ben Barka, a key political opponent and fierce critic of Hassan, was kidnapped and disappeared in Paris.[5] In Rise and Kill First, Ronen Bergman points to cooperation between the Moroccan authorities and Israel's Mossad in locating Ben Barka.[45]

In 1990, following riots in Fez, Hassan set up the Consultative Human Rights Council to look into allegations of abuse by the State.[46] In 1991, he pardoned two thousand prisoners, including political prisoners and people held in secret prisons including in Tazmamart.[47] In 1998, the first opposition-led government was elected.[48]

During his reign, Morocco was labeled as "partly free" by Freedom House, except for a "not free" ranking in 1992.[49]

Attempted coups d'état

In the early 1970s, Hassan survived two assassination attempts. The first occurred on 10 July 1971 during his forty-second birthday party at his palace in Skhirat, near Rabat.[50] The attempted coup was carried out by up to 1,400 army cadets from the Ahermoumou military training academy led by General Mohamed Medbouh and Colonel M'hamed Ababou. Hassan was reported to have hidden in a bathroom whilst grenades were thrown and rapid shots were fired.[4][5] The rebels also raided and took over the offices of the RTM, Morocco's state-owned broadcasting company, broadcasting propaganda claiming that the King had been murdered and that a republic had been founded.[5] M'hamed Ababou gave orders to rebels through Radio-Maroc, ordering the execution of everyone in the palace by asking that "dinner be served to everyone by 7 pm" on air.[51] The coup ended the same day when royalist troops took over the palace in combat against the rebels.[50][52] After firing died down, Hassan ended up face-to-face with one of the rebel commanders; he reportedly intimidated the leader of the rebel troops by reciting a verse of the Quran, and the commander knelt and kissed Hassan's right hand.[4] An estimated 400 people were killed by rebels during the attempted coup; loyal troops within the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces under the command of Hassan killed more than 150 and detained 900 people in connection with the coup.[4][5] It was subsequently claimed by the Moroccan authorities that the young cadets had been misled by senior officers into thinking that they were acting to protect the king.[50][52] Hassan himself supported the thesis that the coup was supported by Libya, raising tensions between the two countries.[53][54] The next day, Hassan attended the funerals of royalist soldiers killed during the attempted coup.[50]

Hassan's damaged Boeing 727 after the 1972 coup attempt

On 16 August 1972, during a second coup attempt, six F-5 military jets from the Royal Moroccan Air Force opened fire on the king's Boeing 727 while flying at a 3 km (1.9 mi) altitude over Tétouan on the way to Rabat from Barcelona,[55][56] killing eight people on board and injuring fifty. A bullet hit the fuselage but they failed to take the plane down despite it being badly damaged.[57][58][5] The military jets were loaded with practice ammunition rather than missiles, severely impacting the coup's effectiveness.[59] Hassan hurried to the cockpit, took control of the radio, and reportedly shouted: "Stop firing, the tyrant is dead!";[59][60][4] however, conflicting reports state that he posed as a mechanic and stated that both pilots died and the king was badly injured, convincing the pilots to stop.[57][55]

220 members of the Royal Moroccan Air Force were arrested for partaking in the coup plot, 177 of whom were acquitted, 32 were found guilty, and 11 people were sentenced to death by a military tribunal.[61][62] After doing an emergency landing at Rabat–Salé International Airport, Hassan escaped to his palace in Shkirat in an unmarked car.[50] Mohamed Amekrane, a colonel suspected to be a main part of the coup, attempted to flee to Gibraltar; however, his asylum application was declined and he was sent back to Morocco. He was later sentenced to death by firing squad.[63][56][62] General Mohamed Oufkir, Morocco's defense minister at the time, was suspected to have lead the coup; he was later found dead from multiple gunshot wounds, with his death officially determined a suicide.[64][29][62] Hassan declared that he "must not place [his] trust in anyone" after what he perceived as treason from Oufkir.[50] The attempted coups reportedly reinforced his rule over Morocco.[65]

Foreign policy

Hassan being interviewed by Hugh Downs for Today on NBC, 1963

Hassan's first official foreign visit as King was to attend the 1st Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which took place in September 1961 in Belgrade.[66][67]

In the Cold War era, Hassan allied Morocco with the West generally, and with the United States and France in particular. His obituary in The New York Times described him as "a monarch oriented to the west".[4] There were close and continuing ties between the royal government and the CIA, who helped to reorganize Morocco's security forces in 1960.[68] During Hassan's tenure as prime minister, Morocco controversially accepted Soviet military aid and made overtures towards Moscow. During an interview, he stated that "as an Islamic people, [Morocco has] the right to practice bigamy. We can wed East and West and be faithful to both".[4]

In 1975, he created the Al-Quds Committee, a non-governmental organization aimed to "preserve the Arab-Muslim character" of Jerusalem. It works on the restoration of mosques and the creation of hospitals and schools in the city.[69][70] The committee also gives out scholarship to students living in the city, as well as donating equipment to schools and kindergartens.[71][72] Hassan also admitted Norbert Calmels [fr], a French member of the Holy See and one of his personal friends, to the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco. Calmels was responsible for bringing about a rapprochement between Islam and Christianity.[73][74]

Hassan was alleged to have covertly cooperated with the State of Israel and Israeli intelligence.[75][76] In what was termed Operation Yachin, he negotiated for the migration of over 97,000 Moroccan Jews to Israel from 1961 to 1964 in exchange for weapons and training for Morocco's security forces and intelligence agencies.[75] The Moroccan Jewish community was historically among the largest in the Muslim world.[77] In an arrangement financed by the American Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Hassan was paid a sum of $500,000 along with $100 for each of the first 50,000 Moroccan Jews to be migrated to Israel, and $250 for each Jewish emigrant thereafter.[78][79][80]

Hassan served as a mediator between Arab countries and Israel. In 1977, he served as a key backchannel in peace talks between Egypt and Israel, hosting secret meetings between Israeli and Egyptian officials; these meetings led to the Egypt–Israel peace treaty.[75]

According to Shlomo Gazit, during an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, then-leader of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Hassan invited Mossad and Shin Bet agents to bug the Casablanca hotel hosting the 1965 Arab League summit to record conversations of participating Arab leaders. This information was instrumental in Israel's victory in the Six-Day War.[81][75] Ronen Bergman claimed in his book, Rise And Kill First, that Israeli intelligence then supplied information leading to Mehdi Ben Barka's capture and assassination.[82] Bergman also alleged that the Moroccan DST and Mossad collaborated in a 1996 plot to assassinate Osama bin Laden, the plot involved a woman close to bin Laden who was an informant for the DST, however, the mission was aborted due to rising tensions between Morocco and Israel.[75][83]

Relations with Mauritania were less than ideal, with Morocco only recognizing Mauritania as a sovereign state in 1969, nearly a decade after Mauritania's declaration of independence.[84] In 1984, as a result of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) joining the Organisation of African Unity two years prior, Hassan declared the suspension of Morocco's membership of the organisation.[85][86] Morocco entered into a diplomatic crisis with Burkinabé President Thomas Sankara following his decision to recognize the SADR.[87]

Hassan was close to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, even hosting him in 1979 when he was exiled.[88]

Armed conflicts

On 14 October 1963, the Sand War was declared as a result of failed negotiations over borders inherited from French colonialism between Hassan and Algeria's newly elected president Ahmed Ben Bella.[5][89] The war heavily damaged both countries' economies, and the king ordered his citizens to call off Eid al-Adha festivities in part due to the economic recession caused by the war.[90] A peace treaty and armistice ended the war on 15 January 1969.[91][89] Hassan later claimed that the war was "stupid and a real setback".[5]

Hassan sent 11,000 troops, one infantry brigade to Egypt and one armored regiment to Syria during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which six Moroccan troops were captured.[5][92][93] During Hassan's reign, Morocco recovered the Spanish-controlled area of Ifni in 1969, and gained control of two-thirds of what was formerly Spanish Sahara through the Green March in 1975.[94] The nationalist Polisario Front subsequently engaged in a war for control of the territory, with support from Algeria, and relations between the two countries deteriorated further as a result.[95]

Economy

Hassan adopted a market-based economy, where agriculture, tourism, and phosphates mining industries played a major role.[96] In 1967, he launched an irrigation project consisting of over a million hectares of land.[97]

The king eventually came to develop very good relations with parts of the French media and financial elite. In 1988, the contract for the construction of the Great Mosque of Casablanca, a considerable project in scale, financed through compulsory contributions, was awarded to a civil engineering firm owned by Francis Bouygues, one of the most powerful businessmen in France and a personal friend of Hassan's. His image in France was tarnished however following the publication in 1990 of Gilles Perrault's Our Friend the King, describing detention conditions in Tazmamart, the repression of left-wing opponents and Sahrawis, political assassinations, and the social situation and the poverty in which the majority of Moroccans lived.[98]

On 3 March 1973, Hassan announced a "Moroccanization" policy, in which state-held assets, agricultural lands, and businesses that were more than fifty percent foreign-owned were taken over and transferred to local companies and businessmen.[99][100][5] The "Moroccanisation" of the economy affected thousands of businesses, and the proportion of locally-owned industrial businesses in Morocco immediately increased from 18% to 55%.[5] Two-thirds of the wealth of the "Moroccanised" economy was concentrated in 36 Moroccan families.[5]

In 1988, he also adopted a privatization policy. Beginning in 1993, more than a hundred public companies were privatized.[101] It was primarily carried out by the king and André Azoulay, the monarchy's economic advisor. The French group Accor was thus able to acquire six hotels of the Moroccan chain Moussafir and the management of the Jamaï Palace in Fez. This privatization operation enabled notables close to the Moroccan government to control the most prominent public companies, and French companies to make a strong comeback in the country's economy. The royal family also acquired the mining group Monagem.[102]

Death

On 23 July 1999, Hassan was admitted to the CHU Ibn Sina Hospital in Rabat for acute interstitial pneumonitis; at 16:30 (GMT), he was pronounced dead from a myocardial infarction at the age of 70.[103][104][105] The Moroccan government ordered forty days of mourning, while entertainment and cultural events were cancelled, and public institutions and many businesses were closed upon news of the king's death.[106] Days of mourning were also declared in several other countries, the majority being Arab states.[b] He was succeeded by his eldest son, Mohammed VI.

His funeral was held on 25 July, after which he was buried in a wooden coffin at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat.[4] The coffin was carried by his two sons, King Mohammed VI and Prince Moulay Rachid. It was covered in a red cloth, in which the Shahada, an Islamic testimony of faith, is inscribed in golden writing.[110][111] King Mohammed VI's enthronement ceremony was held a week after Hassan's death.[112][113]

Personal life

King Hassan II with his son, Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed (later King Mohammed VI)

Hassan was described in an official royal palace biography after his death as "well versed in the fields of architecture, medicine and technology" and that he gave his children a "strong commitment to the search for learning and a dedication to uphold the values of their country and their people".[10] Hassan was fluent in Arabic and French and spoke "capable English".[4] He often quoted verse 29:46 (Al-Ankabut) of the Quran.[73]

In 1956, then-prince Hassan began a relationship with French actress Etchika Choureau, whom he met in Cannes in 1956.[114] The relationship ended in 1961 after Hassan's ascension to the throne.[115][116] On 9 November 1961, he married Lalla Latifa Amahzoune, an ethnic Zayane, during a double nuptial ceremony with his brother Prince Moulay Abdallah.[117][118] Hassan and Amahzoune had five children:

Honors and decorations

Royal styles of
King Hassan II of Morocco
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

National orders

Foreign orders

Honorary prizes

Bibliography

  • Hassan II, King of Morocco (1976). Le défi : [mémoires]. Paris: Albin Michel. ISBN 2-226-00317-7. OCLC 2877242.
  • Hassan II, King of Morocco (1993). La mémoire d'un roi : entretiens avec Eric Laurent. Éric Laurent. Paris: Plon. ISBN 2-259-02596-X. OCLC 28547610.
  • Hassan II, King of Morocco (2000). Le génie de la modération : réflexions sur les vérités de l'islam. Éric Laurent. Paris: Plon. ISBN 2-259-19321-8. OCLC 45064335.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Mohammed Ben Arafa's title is not recognized by the Moroccan government.
  2. ^ The United Arab Emirates[107] declared forty days of mourning and closure of offices for three days; Bahrain[107] declared seven days of mourning and ordered public offices closed on Saturday; Mauritania[108] declared seven days of mourning; Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen all declared three days of mourning.[109]

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Hassan II of Morocco Alaouite dynastyBorn: 9 July 1929 Died: 23 July 1999 Regnal titles Preceded byMohammed V King of Morocco 1961–1999 Succeeded byMohammed VI
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Hassan II of Morocco
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