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The Alaouite Dynasty is the name of the current Moroccan royal family. The name Alaouite comes from the ‘Alī of its founder Moulay Ali Cherif who became Sultan of Tafilaltmarker in 1631. His son Mulay r-Rshid (1664-1672) was able to unite and pacify the country. The Alaouite family claim descent from Muhammad through the line of Fāṭimah az-Zahrah, Muhammad's daughter, and her husband, the Fourth Caliph ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib.


According to some legends the Alaouites entered Morocco at the end of the 13th century when Al Hassan Addakhil, who lived then in the town of Yanbumarker in the Hejaz, was brought to Morocco by the inhabitants of Tafilaletmarker to be their imām. They were hoping that, as he was a descendant of Muhammad, his presence would help to improve their date palm crops thanks to his barakah "blessing", an Arabic term meaning a sense of divine presence or charisma. His descendants began to increase their power in southern Morocco after the death of the Saˤdī ruler Ahmad al-Mansur (1578-1603).

In 1659, the last Saˤdī sultan was overthrown in the conquest of Marrakechmarker by Mulay r-Rshid (1664-1672). After the victory over the zāwiya of Dila, who controlled northern Morocco, he was able to unite and pacify the country.

The organization of the kingdom developed under Ismail Ibn Sharif (1672-1727), who, against the opposition of local tribes began to create a unified state. Because the Alaouites, in contrast to previous dynasties, did not have the support of a single Berber or Bedouin tribe, Isma'īl controlled Morocco through an army of black slaves, the Black Guard. With these soldiers he drove the Englishmarker from Tangiersmarker (1684) and the Spanishmarker from Larachemarker (1689.) However, the unity of Morocco did not survive his death - in the ensuing power struggles the tribes became a political and military force once again.

Only with Muhammad III (1757-1790) could the kingdom be pacified again and the administration reorganized. A renewed attempt at centralization was abandoned and the tribes allowed to preserve their autonomy. Under Abderrahmane (1822-1859) Morocco fell under the influence of the European powers. When Morocco supported the Algerianmarker independence movement of the Emir Abd al-Qadir, it was heavily defeated by the Frenchmarker in 1844 at the Battle of Isly and made to abandon its support.

From Muhammad IV (1859-1873) and Hassan I (1873-1894) the Alaouites tried to foster trading links, above all with European countries and the United Statesmarker. The army and administration were also modernised, to improve control over the Berber and Bedouin tribes. With the war against Spain (1859-1860) came direct involvement in European affairs - although the independence of Morocco was guaranteed in the Conference of Madrid (1880), the French gained ever greater influence. German attempts to counter this growing influence led to the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905-1906 and the Second Moroccan Crisis (1911.) Eventually the Moroccans were forced to recognise the French Protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, signed on December 3, 1912. At the same time the Rifmarker area of northern Moroccomarker submitted to Spainmarker.

Under the protectorate (1912-1956) the infrastructure was invested in heavily in order to link the cities of the Atlanticmarker coast to the hinterland, thus creating a single economic area for Morocco. However the regime faced the opposition of the tribes - when the Berber were required to come under the jurisdiction of French courts in 1930 it marked the beginning of the independence movement. In 1944, the independence party Istiqlāl was founded, supported by the Sultan Muhammad V (1927-1961). Although banned in 1953, France was obliged to grant Morocco independence on March 2, 1956, leaving behind them a legacy of urbanisation and the beginnings of an industrial economy.

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