| Morocco (Page 2) |
After a number of short-lived dynasties rose and fell, the Alawite family secured a stranglehold in the 1630s that remains firm to this day. Although it was rarely a smooth ride, this pragmatic dynasty managed to keep Morocco independent for more than three centuries.
European traders entered the scene in the late 19th century, and a long era of colonial renovations. Suddenly France, Spain and Germany were all keen on hijacking the country for its strategic position and rich trade resources. France won out and occupied virtually the entire country by 1912. Spain clung to a small coastal protectorate and Tangier was declared an international zone.
The sultan remained during the French "occupation", but as little more than a figurehead. After WW II, Sultan Mohammed V inspired an independence party which finally secured Moroccan freedom in 1956. Tangier was reclaimed in the process, but Spain refused to hand over the northern towns of Ceuta and Melilla.
Mohammed V crowned himself to king in 1957 and was succeeded four years later by his son, Hassan II. This popular leader cemented his place in Moroccan hearts and minds by staging the Green March into the Western Sahara, an area formerly held by Spain. With a force of 350,000 volunteers, Hassan's followers overcame the indigenous Sahrawis to claim the mineral-rich region as their own.
But by the 1960s it had become clear that the inhabitants of Western Sahara wanted independence. Western Sahara's Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia al-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) embarked on a long war of independence against Morocco. In 1991, the United Nations brokered a ceasefire, but Western Sahara's official status remains in question.
In July 1999 King Hassan II, who had served as absolute monarch (despite recent, semi-democratic changes to the constitution) for 38 years, was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince sidi Mohammed.
The medals of Morocco remain an often confusing and inaccurately described subject. Perhaps part of the confusion stems from the issuance of medals by the French, the Spanish, the Moroccans and even Western Sahara. Add to this equation, the often poorly translated Arabic characters on the medals and you have a very, very confusing issue at hand.
The following list may also suffer from such confusion. I have done my best to separate it by the issuing power and to group the medals as such. In some cases, medals have been previously described as separate issues, but are indeed the very same medal.
Orders of the Alawite (Alawaidis) Dynasty