The Green March and the Liberation of the Moroccan Sahara

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he Green March, or Al Massira Al Khadra, was prepared 3 months before it was revealed to the people. It was the day before the annual speech commemorating the departure into exile of the royal family on August 20, 1975 that the late Hassan 2 had the idea in the middle of the night for this famous march.

You were able to observe thousands of people protesting in all the big cities in favor of the Sahara. So why not organize a gigantic peaceful rally that would take the form of a march? -Hassan II during the 1975 speech.

It was then after this speech that he summoned the Ministers of Trade and Finance to whom he asked for a forecast of safety stocks in order to avoid an increase in prices due to an average harvest in the year.

Thus, on August 21, 1975, the late Hassan II summoned 3 officials: General Achabar, General Bennani and Colonel Major Ziati. They took an oath not to disclose anything to the rest of the government despite disagreeing with this approach. Discretion was necessary because the movement of 350,000 people in southern Morocco could not be improvised.

Why send 350,000 Moroccans to the Sahara? The figure would correspond to the number of Moroccans born each year at the time. The logistical plans were studied and finalized with meticulous care. The King's Office did everything by hand to ensure the smooth running of the plan. Food rations, the quantity of candles to light the camps, blankets, water supplies and so on had to be accurately calculated.

It was then at the beginning of October that the government was informed. On October 16, 1975, Hassan II delivered during his speech:

“I had not yet finished my speech when already, from the open patio where I was standing, I could hear the clamors coming from the neighborhoods near the palace in Marrakech. In all the cities and towns of the Kingdom, people went out into the streets shouting “We are volunteers!” It was a real rush.”

Hassan II warned walkers several times during his speeches, warning them of the possibility of encountering minefields, tanks or artillery barrages.

The question he asked himself during the 2 months of preparation was about young Moroccans who, blessed by progress, might not share the same patriotism as their parents. Would they go in front of the tanks? He quickly realized that the Moroccan people had hardly changed.

It will be on October 26th, in the presence of Kurt Waldheim (Secretary of the UN) that Hassan II will inaugurate the Grand Dam of Al Massira. He was talking to journalists from different countries about the March, whose volunteers were standing in perfect order.

Barrage Al Massira
Al Massira dam

For nearly two weeks, 10 daily trains transported volunteers from North and Eastern Morocco to Marrakech, from where they were then transported by trucks to Agadir and then Tarfaya.

There were 7813 trucks with 10,000 officers ordering the March, 470 doctors and paramedics, and 230 ambulance cars.

A transport of 17,000 tons of food, 23,000 tons of water, 2590 tons of fuel as well as weapons and ammunition in case it was necessary to defend themselves. The Royal Armed Forces accompanied the volunteers in the rearguard.

Hassan II informed the Spanish government about the March and specified in what spirit it was being undertaken. It was then that the Spanish government gave the order to withdraw its troops about forty kilometers to the south.

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10% of the volunteers were women. Men and women were armed with a green flag, a national flag and a copy of the Quran. The march went well, with the volunteers walking a long distance until November 9th.

The King, from Agadir where he was monitoring the external repercussions, was alerted to the decisive negotiations about to begin. This was very good news for the sovereign because it involved the preparation of the Tripartite Agreement which was to be signed on November 14 in Madrid between Spain, Mauritania and Morocco.

On November 18, the text of the law on the decolonization of the Sahara was passed by the Cortes.

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At the beginning of February 1976, a United Nations mission, chaired by Olaf Reydbeck, went to Laayoune. Difficulties will emerge from Boumedienne's maneuvers, whose troops will pass themselves off as the Polisario forces in some southern provinces. Recall that the Algerian government had always declared that the Sahara case did not concern it.

For his part, Hassan II said:

We have no intention of harming the Algerian Revolution in any way; our principle is not to interfere in the affairs of others. We don't want more of us meddling with ours. Is this the war that the President of the Algerian Revolution Council wants to force us into? Everyone knows that Morocco is a nation that has only one will: to work in peace, both with the North and with the South, the East and the West. But if it is the future of Morocco that we definitely want to attack, the future of its people, the future of its faith, we will defend ourselves in war as we defended ourselves in peace. I don't have anything else to say.
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