Monday, December 10, 2012

'Abd al-'Aziz ibn al-Hassan

‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn al-Hassan (b. February 24, 1878, in Fez, Morocco - d. June 10, 1943, in Tangier, Morocco), also known as Mulai Abd al-Aziz IV and as Abdelaziz of Morocco, was the Filali Sharif of Morocco (r.1894-1908).  Increasing European pressure as, for instance, shown at Algeciras in 1906, which was interpreted as an act of surrender to the European powers, made ‘Abd al-‘Aziz unpopular.  In 1907, his brother Mawlay ‘Abd al-Hafiz was proclaimed sultan and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz abdicated. 

'Abd al-'Aziz served as the Sultan of Morocco from 1894 at the age of sixteen until he was deposed in 1908. He succeeded his father Hassan I of Morocco. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

By the action of Ba Ahmad bin Musa, the Chamberlain of El Hasan, 'Abd al-'Aziz's accession to the sultanate was ensured with little fighting. Ba Ahmad became regent and for six years showed himself a capable ruler. However, Ba Ahmad died in 1900.  There were strong rumors that he was poisoned.

On the death of Ba Ahmad in 1900 the regency ended, and 'Abd al-'Aziz took the reins of government into his own hands.  He chose an Arab from the south, El Menebhi as his chief adviser.

Urged by his Circassian mother, 'Abd al-'Aziz sought advice and counsel from Europe and endeavored to act on it.  However, advice not motivated by a conflict of interest was difficult to obtain and, in spite of the unquestionable desire of the young ruler to do the best for the country, wild extravagance both in action and expenditure resulted, leaving the sultan with depleted exchequer and the confidence of his people impaired. Additionally, intimacy of 'Abd al-'Aziz with foreigners and his imitation of their ways were sufficient to rouse xenophobic fanaticism and create unrest.

The attempt of 'Abd al-'Aziz to reorganize the state finances by the systematic levy of taxes was hailed with delight, but the government was not strong enough to carry the measures through, and the money which should have been used to pay the taxes was employed to purchase firearms instead.  Thus, the benign intentions of 'Abd al-'Aziz were interpreted as weakness.  Europeans were accused of having spoiled the sultan and of being desirous of spoiling the country.

When British engineers were employed to survey the route for a railway between Meknes and Fez, this was reported as indicating an absolute sale of the country. The xenophobic fanaticism of the people was aroused, and a revolt broke out near the Algerian frontier. Such was the condition of circumstances that, when the news of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 arrived, it came as a blow to 'Abd al-'Aziz, who had relied on England for support and protection against the inroads of France.

On the advice of Germany, 'Abd al-'Aziz proposed the assembly of an international conference at Algeciras in 1906 to consult upon methods of reform, the sultan's desire being to ensure a condition of affairs which would leave foreigners with no excuse for interference in the control of the country.  This non-interference would promote the welfare of Morocco, a promotion that 'Abd al-'Aziz had earnestly desired from his accession to power.

'Abd al-'Aziz gave his adherence to the Act of the Algeciras Conference, but the state of anarchy into which Morocco fell during the latter half of 1906 and the beginning of 1907 showed that the young ruler lacked strength sufficient to make his will respected by his aroused subjects.

In May 1907, the southern aristocrats, led by the head of the Glaoua tribe, Si Elmadani El Glaoui, invited Abdelhafid, an elder brother of 'Abd al-'Aziz, and viceroy at Marrakech, to become sultan, and, in the following August, Abdelhafid was proclaimed sovereign there with all the usual formalities.

In the meantime, the murder of Europeans at Casablanca had led to the occupation of that port by France. In September Abd-el-Aziz arrived at Rabat from Fez and endeavored to secure the support of the European powers against his brother. From France, he accepted the grand cordon of the Legion of Honor, and was later enabled to negotiate a loan. This was seen as leaning to Christianity and aroused further opposition to his rule.  In January 1908, 'Abd al-'Aziz was declared deposed by the ulema (ulama) of Fez, who offered the throne to Hafid.

After months of inactivity, 'Abd al-'Aziz made an effort to restore his authority.  Quitting Rabat in July he marched on Marrakech. His force, largely owing to treachery, was completely overthrown on August 19 when near that city, and 'Abd al-'Aziz fled to Settat within the French lines around Casablanca. In November, he came to terms with his brother, and thereafter took up his residence in Tangier as a pensioner of the new sultan. However, the exercise of Moroccan law and order continued to deteriorate under Abdelhafid, leading to the humiliating Treaty of Fez in 1912, in which European nations assumed many responsibilities for the sultanate, which was divided into three zones of influence.

In exile, 'Abd al-'Aziz led a very active social, but semi-political life. During the Spanish annexation of Tangier in 1940, he acquiesced giving deference to the Moroccan palace authorities called the "makhzen".  'Abd al-'Aziz died in Tangier in 1943.

After the ex-sultan's sudden death in 1943, his body was transferred to French Morocco as desired by the Sultan Mohammed V.

'Abd al-'Aziz was portrayed by Marc Zuber in the film The Wind and the Lion (1975), a fictional version of Ion Perdicaris affair.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-'Aziz IV
'Abd al-'Aziz ibn al-Hasan
'Abd al-'Aziz ibn al-Hassan
Abdelaziz of Morocco
Abd-el-Aziz of Morocco
Ibn al-Hasan
Ibn al-Hasan, 'Abd al-'Aziz
Ibn al-Hassan
Ibn al-Hassan, 'Abd al-'Aziz
Mulai 'Abd al-'Aziz IV 

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