‘The Riffain War of Independence: Morocco, Abd el Krim and the Imperialists’ by Ali Kemal Fauladi from International Press Correspondence. Vol. 5 No. 50. June 11, 1925.
In the far-off days of 1911, when the Imperialist dogs in Europe were straining at the leash for international massacre, Morocco almost furnished an occasion for a premature declaration of the Great War. It was avoided by the hasty summoning in 1912 of the Conference of Algeciras, where Morocco as an independent national unit was dismembered and divided on the model followed in 1907 in Persia by Grey and Sazonotf, into two “spheres of influence”, one Spanish in the North and the other French in the South. Meanwhile Germany – then making its unfortunate debut as a rival to the older imperialist powers – was given compensations elsewhere in Africa, and England was assured, in return for its neutrality in the Moroccan partition, complete freedom of exploitation of the riches of the Nile Valley. And Italy too – then in the throes of a nascent imperialism – came on the scene with the occupation of Tripoli.
The world has gone through a complete bouleversement since those idyllic days when the imperialist Powers could play in that way with the destiny of the peoples of Northern Africa. The Great War has dealt a fatal blow to imperialism and has brought out, and continues to bring out in increasingly acute forms, its inherent contradictions. Northern Africa – like the rest of Africa and Asia in their different degrees – refuses to be the play-ground of imperialist ambitions; and the peoples, so long held in durance vile under the imperialist yoke, are at last conscious of their strength and are revolting, determined to be free. The new war of freedom of the victims, of imperialism stretches from China to Morocco; and already the Imperialist front is heavily dented. Of the approaching destruction of imperialism, the guarantee is not only in its internal weaknesses but also in the will to freedom of its outraged victims.
A place of honour on the anti-imperialist front belongs to the valiant peasants of the Riff – numbering not more than 300,000 – who, under the leadership of Abd el Krim, have been fighting, it is now almost half a decade, against the hordes of imperialism. From their little sector of land, stretching from the Mediterranean coast as a triangular wedge between the Spanish and the French zones, the Riffains’ gave battle to the Spanish army of occupation, and in 1923 won their classic victory of Anual, where a whole Spanish army-corps, with generals and all, was captured held to ransom. In December of last year, when the renewed Spanish offensive under the personal direction of Primo de Rivera had definitely broken itself against Riffain resistance, Abd el Krim chased the Spaniards as far out as the sea-littoral, where the presence of Spanish naval units alone saved the retreating remnants of the army of occupation from disaster.
Meanwhile Lyautey, the French High Commissioner in Morocco, was holding himself in readiness for the proper “political moment” to hurl himself against the Riff. He had asked for and obtained from the successive Governments of Poincare and Herriot in Paris the necessary reinforcements in men and money for what he will knew would soon, once engaged, assume the proportions of a colonial war and not be confined to a punitive expedition against a rebellious tribal chief. For, Abd el Krim — as Lyautey, being on the spot, had good reasons, to know – is more than a rebellious tribal chief; he personifies a world-factor in its local application in Morocco; he is the chief of a revolutionary movement of liberation from imperialist domination. If on the moral plane, Abd el Krim and Lyautey represent two antagonistic world-factors, on the technical plane – all allowances being made as between a great military power like France and the little Riff – Abd el Krim is no less a redoubtable adversary, because his war-strategy and his equipment are modern.
As Lyautey was getting himself ready, the diplomatic preparation in Paris for the French offensive against the Riff was coming to its culminating point after a ;ong and tortuous detour. It was not for the love of Riffain independence that the French Government allowed its citizens to furnish arms and munitions to Abd el Krim to be used against Spain. And if the British Government it its turn allowed the same latitude to its own citizens, it was equally not from a motive of love.
The French government – working as the occult mandatory of French bankers covetously looking to the rich mineral sub-soil of the Riff -wanted Spain to be put out of the way as a possible reversionary owner of the Riff. With Spain demonstrably unable to hod its own in its zone, and thus unable to fulfil the terms of the Algeciras agreement, the occasion would be diplomatically legitimate for France to extend its Moroccan territory to the North, right up to the Mediterranean. While, precisely to avoid this contingency – namely, the appearance of France on the Mediterranean coast facing Gibraltar -, England was forced, by the bankruptcy of Spain as an imperialist power, to fall back on the possibility of creating a Riffain buffer-state by allowing surreptitious and unofficial help to reach Abd el Krim. So, from diametrically opposed motives, England and France adopted an identical attitude during the Spanish-Riffain war. The tension of Anglo-French Moroccan rivalry would have continued topostpone indefinitely the. opening of Lyautey’s offensive in the Riff, if some agreement had not meanwhile been reached between the Quai d’Orsay and the British foreign Office defining more clearly the Mediterranean situation in the terms of a complete British hegemony in Egypt and French freedom of expansion in Morocco.
Once the diplomatic maneuvering was over, Lyautey found the necessary pretext to declare war against Ahd el Krim. The frontier between the Riff and the French zone had been left purposely undefined, though Abd el Krim had on several occasions asked for a proper delimitation. It wou1d appear that Lyautey could not accede to the demand of Ahd el Krim because the Riffain leader was not a “juridical entity” with which one could hold “negotiations”, but – as, recently interpreted by M. Briand – mere “conversations” were possible. However in the vague “No Man’s Land” between the two frontiers there is the region of the Ouergha whence the Riff receives a portion of its food-supplies. The appearance of Riffain soldiers in the Ouergha, not with a war-like motive, gave Lyautey the precise point of departure for his long-prepared attack against the harkas of Abd el Krim. All imperialist wars are fundamentally wars of aggression. The French war against the Riff is such a war, both in its motive and the way in which it has been opened by General de Chambrun acting under orders from field-Marshal Lyautey, himself inspired by the Caillux-Briand-Painleve combination evolving, with the support of the Socialist parties, at the Palais-Bourbon a shameless policy of imperialist aggression in the interests of the bandits of high finance.
Abd el Krim has taken up the challenge of Lyautey. The Riffains are fighting with their accustomed valour against heavy odds. As Jacques Doriot of the French Communist Party pointed out in a recent debate in the Chamber of Deputies, the eyes of all Islam are turned on the Riff. Doriot might as well have said that the eyes of all the oppressed peoples of Asia and Africa are turned on the Riff. In that narrow sector of land in the North-West corner of Africa, imperialism is at close grips with its destined enemy. It is the beginning of the pen-ultimate phase of imperialist collapse. The collapse is a historic necessity which will achieve itself in spite of momentary or local respites. A new element has entered into world-economy to hasten that collapse. It is the consciousness of solidarity which the advanced proletariat of the imperialist countries feel towards the subjugated peoples of Asia and Africa. The solidarity is the invincible solidarity of common interests, because the enemy of both is one – Capitalism and Imperialism.
The French Communist Party, as representing the advanced proletariat of France, has on this occasion taken its stand on the side of the Riffains. In its manifestoes it has proclaimed its complete solidarity with the cause of Riffain independence. From the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies, Communist speakers have vindicated the inalienable right of the Riffain people to self-determination. They have demanded more – they have asked for the evacuation of Morocco altogether. In the Communist press and from Communist platforms, the French proletariat has been reminded that the Riffain people are its fellow-victim of the same oppression. Worthy of its revolutionary conscience, the French Communist Party has sent forth to the French soldiers in Morocco the audacious slogan – “Fraternize with the Riffains!”
International Press Correspondence, widely known as”Inprecor” was published by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) regularly in German and English, occasionally in many other languages, beginning in 1921 and lasting in English until 1938. Inprecor’s role was to supply translated articles to the English-speaking press of the International from the Comintern’s different sections, as well as news and statements from the ECCI. Many ‘Daily Worker’ and ‘Communist’ articles originated in Inprecor, and it also published articles by American comrades for use in other countries. It was published at least weekly, and often thrice weekly. The ECCI also published the magazine ‘Communist International’ edited by Zinoviev and Karl Radek from 1919 until 1926 monthly in German, French, Russian, and English. Unlike, Inprecor, CI contained long-form articles by the leading figures of the International as well as proceedings, statements, and notices of the Comintern. No complete run of Communist International is available in English. Both were largely published outside of Soviet territory, with Communist International printed in London, to facilitate distribution and both were major contributors to the Communist press in the U.S. Communist International and Inprecor are an invaluable English-language source on the history of the Communist International and its sections.
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