November 6, 1975: The Green March begins. About 350,000 unarmed civilians gathered near the city of Tarfaya in southern Morocco. They waited for a sign from King Hassan II to begin their march into Sakiya Lhmra. They carried the Moroccan flag and Koran banners calling for the “return of the Moroccan Sahara”. The color green was selected as a symbol of Islam. As the marchers reached the border between the two regions, the Spanish Armed Forces were ordered not to fire on the unarmed group as to avoid bloodshed. The Spanish also cleared some previously mined areas to allow the people to pass unharmed.
Morocco was a sovereign state ruled by a sultan and they felt the Spanish incursion into their previously held lands was unacceptable. They held that their lands has been usurped, the people were paying taxes to the wrong entity, and treaties existed which stated they were to be left in charge of their territories. They presented these issues to the International Court of Justice. The court did not agree with Morocco. The Green March was held in response to the court’s decision but Spain was already having a political crisis at home. General Franco had been the dictator of Spain for almost 40 years and he was dying. The crisis at home was enough to make the Spanish fearful of a full-blown colonial war in Africa and escalate the problems at home.
In an effort to forestall disaster, Spain entered into a bilateral negotiation with Morocco. Also brought into the negotiations was Mauritania who also had similar claims against Spain. The Madrid Accords was signed on November 14 and the treaty had Spain dividing the Spanish Sahara between the two African nations. This would take place under the condition that the Saharan populations would agree to the change in government even though they had specifically been denied a presence in the negotiations. Spain had made concessions in the phosphate mines and off shore fishing and the Moroccan government did not grant the same, the natives had a stake in the outcome. Morocco and Mauritania annexed the lands and moved in.
However, there was dispute among the people living there and they got backing from Algeria in order to refuse the Madrid Accords and demand the people be given the right to self-determination and have their decisions upheld. They revolted against the Moroccan presence. There was a 16 year war over who would have jurisdiction over the area and a cease-fire was struck in 1991 and the conflict is still not legally resolved. The Spanish Parliament of December 15, 2010 was still debating the issue and denied that they support the Moroccan position in Spanish Sahara.
War is only caused through the political intercourse of governments and nations – war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with an admixture of other means. – Carl von Clausewitz
Above all we should not forget that government is an evil, a usurpation upon the private judgment and individual conscience of mankind. – William Godwin
The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. – Thomas Jefferson
Governments last as long as the undertaxed can defend themselves from the overtaxed. – Bernard Berenson
Also on this day: The Most Reverend John Carroll – In 1789, the US gets her first Roman Catholic Bishop.
Hurricane – In 1935, the Hawker Hurricane was first flown.
Mr. President – In 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected President of the CSA.
George? – In 1856, an anonymously published book was submitted.
Bad Boys – In 1928, Arnold Rothstein died.
* “100 dirham back” by http://www.banknotes.it/Ricerca_03.asp?ID=1922&Side=r – http://www.banknotes.it/Ricerca_03.asp?ID=1922&Side=r. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:100_dirham_back.jpg#/media/File:100_dirham_back.jpg