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Resistance against Moroccan colonialism in the Rif: 1958 / 1959

Abdelkrim el Khattabi, photo: internet

The Rif was always an independent and autonomous area despite the fact that part of it was occupied. In this area they repeatedly and fiercely resisted various occupiers, such as Portugal, Spain and the sultans of Fes and Marrakech.
In the course of time, several sovereign states were founded by the Riffians, such as the state of Nekour and the state of Amejjaou. Perhaps the last state they founded was the ‘Arifublik’ inspired by the creation of the French Republic after the fall of the royal house, there. Maybe this was the reason to revolt against the ‘Emirate system’ and, following the European example (with which the Riffians always maintained a lot of contact) to create their own form of state: the Arifublik.

When Spain attempted to occupy the Rif at the beginning of the last century, it met with fierce resistance from the Riffians. The Spaniards had and number of defeats to collect resulting in the final defeat at the battle of Anoual, which therefore played an important role in the creation of Rif republic in 1921.

Concept Riffian banknote, photo: internet

On September 18, 1921, under the leadership of Mohammed Abdelkrim al Khattabi (1882-1963), the Rif state was proclaimed. A state with its own government, parliament, anthem, currency, army, etc.
The European colonial powers saw in this young state a threat because the proclamation of an independent state by the Riffians could be seen as an example by other occupied peoples and as a source of inspiration.
For this reason, Spain, ‘Morocco’, the USA, Germany and France formed an international coalition. The US supplied pilots (mercenaries), Germany supplied poison gas and France, together with Spain, sent about half a million soldiers to the Rif.

During this war, which lasted from 1921 to 1927, this coalition did not hesitate to use poison gas against unarmed civilians. The president of the Rif, Mohammed Abdel Krim el Khattabi, turned to the international community, but there was no reaction from this quarter.
That is why he was forced to surrender to France in 1926, who then banished him to Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean. The Rif fell largely under Spanish and partly under French rule. In 1956, the Rif was handed over to Morocco.

Khalid Bouyaala, screenshot facebook page: Arif s Tiṭṭawin n Irifiyen

The establishment of Moroccan authority in the Rif created tensions among the Riffians. This was caused by the replacement of Riffian officials by new Moroccan officials who behaved feudally.
This eventually culminated in the People’s Revolt of 1958 and 1959.
This revolt was brutally crushed, with the Moroccan authorities not shying away from mass murders, rapes and destruction of crops. These crimes against humanity are the subject of a transcription of a web lecture in the Tarifit, given in 2019 by the Riffian linguist Khalid Bouyaala, edited and translated by the editors of Amazigh Information Center.

In the Riffian Language this rebellion is known by several names such as; Asgwas Iqebban (the year of helmets) or Asgwas n Tfadist (the year of mastic tree) and the Moroccan researcher and historian Zaki M’Barek (1940-2019) calls it the ‘evacuation rebellion’.

The economic situation in the Rif after Moroccan independence was bad. The Rif lived from traditional agriculture and is therefore dependent on rainfall. After 1956 a period of drought started in the Rif which lasted two years. This was already disastrous, on top of that the income from seasonal labor stopped. The independence war of 1954 in Algeria prevented many Riffians from travelling there for a living.
The Algerian resistance against France, which had occupied the country since 1830, also deepened the economic crisis in the Rif.
As mentioned earlier, the Moroccan government replaced the colonial officials. However, these ‘Moroccan’ officials were poorly informed about the situation in the Rif. For example, they had not realized that the Riffians did not speak Arabic and/or French, but their own language and/or, if they were better educated, Spanish, because this was used by the colonial rulers present at the time and they were suddenly sidelined.

In addition, these officials behaved arrogantly towards the Rif people. It could be that a man went with his mother, wife, sister or daughter to a town hall for an administrative act, then it was demanded of him (often in a language incomprehensible to him) that the women had to take their headscarves off. In the Rif this is interpreted as provocation.
Another problem is that the Spanish money the Peseta was replaced by the French currency the Franc, as a result of which the Spanish money available to the Rif was suddenly worthless.
Moreover, the Moroccans imposed taxes on the Riffians, for example those who have fertile trees such as fig trees counted them and taxes were charged on them, the same goes for animals such as sheep and cows.
So because of all this, there was no longer any prospect of life for the Riffians in their own country and they rebelled against Moroccan officials, claiming their rights.

ALN parade in Nador around 1955, photo: mondeberbere.com

But not only the economic situation forced the Riffians to revolt. The political situation also led to the protests and resistance.
At that time the Istiqlal, of Ahmed Balafrej, Allal al Fassi and Mehdi Ben Barka was the largest party. This party pursued a one-party system, as in Tunisia. But at that time several political actors were active. Such as the party of Choura & Istqlal, of the palace itself, the liberation army ALN, France, Spain and Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi.

This was the time of the negotiations with France on the ‘independence of Morocco’. It was also the time when the ALN, led by Abbas Messaadi (1925-1956), fought an armed struggle against the occupiers of the Reef just after these negotiations began. The ALN was allied with the Riffian president in exile Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi. He declared that the fight against colonization in North Africa will continue until all soldiers of the occupiers have left the Maghreb countries.
This worried the French rulers because they feared that with Morocco’s independence, the ALN would continue its armed struggle in Algeria, as they were striving for a completely independent Maghreb.

It was for this reason that the Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V (1909-1961), informed France that he controlled the ALN. In addition, the Istiqlal party wanted to include the ALN in his party in order to encapsulate ALN’s power.

Abbas Messaadi, photo: mondeberbere.com

The leader of ALN, Abbas Messaadi, was murdered on July 27, 1956, according to the royal palace he was killed by order of Mehdi Ben Barka (1920-1965). A proposal was made to the ALN: integrate in the Moroccan army FAR, or join the resistance against the Spanish troops in southern Morocco, or fight against French troops in Algeria. Approximately 5,000 ALN fighters joined FAR, and some of them joined the resistance in southern Morocco. They were destroyed in a joint Spanish and French military operation called Ouragan / Écouvillon.

The sultan felt threatened by the ALN and by the Istiqlal party. The latter got too much power. And so the idea arose to play the two off against each other. First, in order to create balance in the political arena, a new political party was founded: the Mouvement Populaire (MP) he left the execution to a former officer of the French army Mahjoubi Aherdan (1921-2020) and the doctor Abdelkrim al Khatib (1921-2008). These two figures decided to respond to the feelings of the Riffians, who were in a hopeless situation. They took the initiative to reburial Abbas Messaadi, who was buried in Fes, in 1958 in his native soil, in Ajdir (Izennayen), but he originally came from Ayt Atta.

On the left: Mahjoubi Aherdan, right: Abdelkrim al Khatib, photo: RT

The ruling Istiqlal party opposed this reburial. The anger focused on the Moroccan government who wanted to prevent the reburial of their resistance hero. Of course, the action of Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib was not born out of love for the Riffs, they wanted to create a split between their two opponents and they succeeded. The Riffians set fire to the offices of Istiqlal, with which the action of the agitators Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib had succeeded.

With that the rebellion in the Rif is a fact. The crisis in the Rif has been seized by others to pursue their political goals. After the release of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian (1925-1995) from prison, he was visited by Riffians who complained about the crisis, the tyranny of the Istiqlal party and asked him for advice.

He declared that he did everything in his power to prevent them from engaging in armed combat because they did not have any weapons at their disposal; this crisis had to be resolved with common sense.
To this end, a committee was set up to conduct the negotiations. This committee consisted of: Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, an uncle of his Muhand Amezian, son of Abdelkrim Khattabi, Rachid Khattabi and a few resistance fighters who fought together with Abdelkrim against the occupiers. And there is a set of demands, the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian speaks about 17 demands, while the anthropologist David Montgomery Hart (1927-2001) speaks about 18 demands.

Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, photo: courrierdurif.com

For example, they demanded that all foreign armies should leave the Reef, Abdelkrim el Khattabi should return to the Rif. All political parties had to be disbanded in order to form a national government, release all prisoners and accelerate the Arabization. Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian says that they were received by King Mohammed V who promised to meet the demands. He even says that a few demands have actually been met. According to the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, Ben Barka changed the king’s mind. He told him that the Riffians were looking for independence. At the same time, the Riffians sent all Moroccan officials out of the Rif.

Sellam Amezian’s uncle, Muhand Amezian, told him that for six months no Moroccan soldier was seen in the Rif, but other sources speak of 3 months. The Moroccan government was under the assumption that if they weren’t present on the Rif, the Rifs would get into conflict with each other, but the opposite happened. It surprised the government that it stayed so quiet in the Rif, that the people didn’t kill each other and that the Riffians governed themselves. That made them so worried that it was decided to intervene in the Rif with a large military force.
The New York Times reported on October 28, 1958 that Morocco declared the Rif a military area, namely the triangle Al Hoceima, Nador and Aknoul, because the Rif people protested against repression and the treatment by Moroccan officials in the Rif.

On 18 November 1958, the army held a military parade in Tétouan. The New York Times of 17 November 1958 writes that “the King chose Tétouan as the venue for the annual military parade” originally planned in the southern city of Marrakech. The parade of almost half of the armed forces would not just be a simple display of power. The parade was considered as an excuse to bring the army discreetly to the north of Morocco”.
More than three-quarters of the FAR’s troops were sent to the Rif. The head of this large army was Crown Prince Hassan (1929-1999) who held the position of chief of staff of the army. His younger brother Abdellah Al Alaoui (1935-1983) also went to Rif at that time to see the ‘show’ up close.

Moroccan government, Rabat, December 1958, Photo: Jacques Belin / Getty Images

Then there was a terrible massacre: heavy war machines such as tanks and airplanes were used against defenceless people in the Rif. There are reports about the use of napalm bombs. Victims testify to mass rapes of both men and women, the bellies of the pregnant Rif women were ripped open by Moroccan soldiers who gambled on whether the fetus was a boy or a girl, the harvest was stolen or set on fire.

The Al Hoceima region was declared a military area at that time by a decree, which is still in force today. According to academics, the number of victims is between 8 and 10 thousand dead, activists speak of more than 20,000 dead.
Before the military actions in the Rif were started, a government was formed from members of the Istiqlal party, as a kind of reparation for the fact that their offices in the Rif were set on fire.
The Istiqlal was the instrument and the palace is the principal. This was evident from a speech by King Hassan II in January 1984, in which he called upon the Reefs who do not yet know Hassan II to re-read history and pay special attention to what Prince Hassan did in the Rif in 1958/59, in other words: “I punished the Riffians in 1958/1959 and if you reclaim your rights I will do the same again”.

Abdelkrim el Khattabi asked King Mohammed V, during a visit in 1960, what the Moroccan army did to the Rif. Muhammad V answered that the Riffians shouldn’t have rebelled against their king. Abdelkrim replied that this was not the case, the Rif had rebelled against the Spanish and French occupying armies in the Rif. To which Mohammed V added “I promise you that within three years from now, there will be no more foreign soldiers in the Rif.

On the left: Mohammed V, right Abdelkrim el Khattabi. Photo: Internet

There is evidence to the contrary, for example that Abdelkrim el Khattabi sent a letter to Mohamed Hassan Ouazzani (1910-1978) on July 27, 1960, in which he states that planes with French pilots, at that time Morocco had not yet attacked war planes, villages and markets in the Rif, in this letter Abdelkrim el Khattabi details how many people were abducted, how many women were murdered and other information about the victims of Moroccan military operations in the Rif.

Mahjoubi Aherdan denies the repression against the Riffians and speaks of restoring order in the Rif. But a few weeks before the uprising, he declares to the AFP that Morocco’s independence is due to the Riffians, which is ambiguous to say the least.

The winners of this rebellion are France and the royal palace, the Riffians paid for it with their blood, the Istiqlal also came out as a loser although it played a dubious role.

The first battle the Moroccan army fought was against the Rif. At that time, the palace and the Istiqlal planned to build a highway they called unity, a road that would unite the Rif with Morocco. If Morocco and the Rif were one, why did this road get this name?

Muhend, an uncle of Sellam Amezian, says that when Spain handed over the Rif to Morocco, the autonomy of the Rif under Spanish administration was discussed, and this is logical for a country that is occupied.
There are issues that still need to be investigated such as: what did the elite mean for Abdelkrim el Khattabi? And why did he only send weapons to the Rif?
With Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Moroccan colonization of the Rif began.

Link to the video in Tarift


1) Mustafa Aarab, De vergeten geschiedenis van het Marokkaanse Rif (2009) [NL]
2) Germain Ayache, La guerre du Rif (1981) [FR]
3) Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, La guerre du Rif (2008) [FR]
4) Ignace Dalle, Les trois rois: la monarchie marocaine, de l’indépendance à nos jours (2004) [FR]
5) La mémoire d’un roi. Hassan II, (entretiens avec Eric Laurent) (1993) [FR]
6) Remy Leveau, Le Fellah marocain: défenseur du trône (1985) [FR]
7) Maâti Monjib, La monarchie marocaine et la lutte pour le pouvoir (1992) [FR]
8) Gilles Perrault, Notre ami le roi (1990) [FR]
9) John Waterbury, Le commandeur des croyants: la monarchie Marocaine et son élite (1975) [FR] / John Waterbury,
The Commander of the Faithful: the Moroccan political elite — a study in segmented politic (1970) [EN]
10) Research of Ahmed Zahid, ‘Intifadat al rif 1958/1959 al dakira wa al tarikh’ (2005) [AR]

For more information on this topic see:

Video Compilation about the Moroccan army [FR/NL]
Testimony of a victim of crimes committed by the Moroccan regime in the Rif [AR/NL]
French army shoots the Riffians with heavy weapons
Testimony of a pilot about bombing of Rif (AR/NL)
Documentary about the revolt of the Rif 1958/1959 [RIF/EN]
King Hassan II speech, January 1984 [AR/NL]


Transtaltion: Najat M.

Son of Riffian president died under suspicious circumstances

Mohamed Mmis n Abdelkrim with his family on the island of La Réunion

By: Editorial Amazigh Information Center

The Riffian resistance leader and politician Mohamed Mmis n Abdelkrim Al Khattabi (1880-1963), better known to the Riffians as Muhand U Abdelkrim, led the resistance of the people of the Rif against the Spanish government after the First World War. In May 1926 he surrendered to the French. He and his family were exiled to Réunion, a French island east of Madagascar. In 1947, on condition that he would settle in France, he was released. During the transport to France, however, he ‘escaped’ in Port Said and King Farouk offered him asylum in Egypt. There he was put in charge of the Liberation Committee of the Maghreb (northwestern part of Africa).

The occupiers seized part of their possessions, such as agricultural land in the Rif. After the tactical withdrawal of France and Spain in1956, Muhand stated that he would not return to Morocco as long as parts of North Africa and in particular the Rif were still colonised. And this situation still exists today, given the fact that two Rif cities and dozens of islands are still under Spanish administration.

Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, granddaughter of the Algerian freedom fighter Abd Al-Kader Jazairi (1808-1883) who was both married to a cousin of Muhand, Rachid Al Khattabi, and after his death with his son Idris Al Khattabi (1925) told during a series of interviews with the Moroccan daily Al Massae in 2015, how the family perished after being banished from the Rif. When she married Rachid, she first mastered the Rif language, because this language was spoken consistently at home.

King Mohammed V (1909 – 1961) still provided the Muhand family with an allowance, his son King Hassan II, however, set conditions for further payment of this allowance. The family had to return to Morocco, but were not allowed to settle in the Rif. Part of the family returned and some of them died under suspicious circumstances, according to Safiya.

Screenshot of an interview of Al Massae with Safiya Al Hassani

Her first husband was the Riffian diplomat Rachid Al Khattabi, he was ambassador for Morocco in Syria. Despite the fact that Rachid Al Khattabi worked for the Moroccan regime, he remained loyal to the Rif and resisted power. He missed a promotion because he refused to kiss King Mohamed V’s hand. And during the revolt of the Rif in1958 and1959 against the Moroccan dictatorship and abuse of power in the Rif, he maintained the contacts between Muhand who stayed in Egypt and the protesting Riffians. He asked his wife to write down the demands for the Rif demonstrators because, according to him, she had such a beautiful handwriting. According to the newspaper Al Massae, Safiya could not tell how these demands ended up with the demonstrators.

Muhand with his son Idris

After the death of Rachid Al Khattabi in 1969, Safiya married Idris Al Khattabi (1925), son of Abdelkrim Al Khattabi. He attended higher education in Germany where he studied German literature. Idris Al Khattabi lived in Rabat and worked for the bus company Al Sadraoui in Casablanca.

King Hassan II tried to get him and other family members of Muhand at his side by promising them ‘privileges’. In the 1970s, for example, he offered Idris Al Khattabi a ministerial post and made a house available to him. This offer was rejected by Idris.

This uncompromising attitude of the Al Khattabi family caused them to collide with the royal family and its lackeys. Thus, Idris demanded the family’s property, which had been confiscated during the Spanish occupation, back. For this purpose he made several visits to the Rif. However, there he was confronted with an encirclement by the army of the then headquarters of the Rif government in the capital Ajdir, this was also the case with the house of Muhand. Everything that reminds us of the resistance of Muhand and the Riffian people is closely watched by the Moroccan police and army.

Moroccan politician Mehdi Barka (R) talking with son of Riff leader Cap. Abdel Salem Abdel Krim (L). (Photo by Pierre Boulat/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

But what, according to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, made Muhand the most angry is that his cousin Al Hatimi and six others were buried alive in Tangier. Muhand held Medi Ben Barka responsible for his nephew’s death.

This ‘nationalist’ and ‘socialist’ and co-founder of the dominant ‘independence movement’ Istiqlaal initially worked with King Mohammed V. He supported crown prince Hassan II in bringing the still existing resistance fires under control, because in his opinion these also included a posed a threat to the Istiqlaal party that pursued power only in Morocco. For that reason, Ben Barka would have given the order for this murder, Muhand confidants reported to him. Medi Ben Barka himself disappeared without a trace in Paris in 1965. Already before then, Al Hatimi was kidnapped by a group of men who would fall under Medi Ben Barka.

According to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, Hassan II was afraid of Muhand’s family because he once asked Rachid Al Khattabi if this family intended to make a coup against the Alaouite ruler.

In 1979, Idris Al Khatatabi made a three-day trip through the Rif. He was received by a large crowd in Ayt Bouayach in the Al Hoceima region. For the Riffians, he was a representative of the ideas of his father Muhand U Abdelkrim. Idris was received hospitably by the Riffians and came home happy, according to his wife: “It is one of the few times that I have seen Idris happy and cheerful like that, like a little boy who found something he loved”. But he was not only happy, he was also angry, angry at the occupation of the family property by soldiers, none of whom came from the Rif. His only dream was to find a free Rif without being able to visit an occupying force and his family property undisturbed. The Rif, in particular the Al Hoceima region, has been a military area by decree from 1958 to the present day.

At the end of this visit to the Rif, Moroccan officials informed Idris’ wife by a short message that her husband had died in a traffic accident on the road between Casablanca and Rabat, in the city of Bouznika. She says: “We were told that Idris had a twisted head in the car seat and that another passenger had survived” the accident “. His car is said to have hit another car, the owner of which was currently replacing a wheel. The coffin with his remains was already closed, so Idris Al Khattabi’s family and loved ones could not say goodbye to him.

Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi “My husband’s death was not normal. I find the “official” story about his death incredible. Our phone was being tapped before my husband died. But as far as I know Idris never came into contact with the police and was questioned by them ”.

Moroccan politician Mehdi Barka (L) talking with son of Riff leader Cap. Abdel Salem Abdel Krim (R). (Photo by Pierre Boulat/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Idris is not the only son of Muhand who died under suspicious circumstances. Another of Muhand’s son, Abdesalam Al Khattabi, was an officer in the Moroccan Army (FAR). During an armed conflict between Morocco and Algeria, the so-called Sand War, Abdesalam Al Khattabi refused to participate in this armed conflict in 1963. He proposed that Morocco and Algeria should resolve the border problems of the colonial era peacefully and made himself available as a mediator. Hassan II immediately fired him from the army and informed the Muhand family that he could not understand the decision of Abdesalam.

Abdesalam, who was perfectly healthy according to Safiya Al Hassani Al Jazairi, suddenly experienced severe abdominal pain in the 1980s and died within a week.

Translated: Najat M.


Mohamed Chacha (1955–2016)

Chacha during his commemoration in Utrecht 2010

By: Amazigh Informatie Centrum
The poet, musician, and above all Amazigh activist Mohamed Chacha was born on 15 August 1955 in Ixef n Cebdan, Qabu Yawa, North Morocco. As a teenager, Chacha worked as a fisherman in the port of Qabu Yawa. Here he was fired for demanding better working conditions together with other fishermen.

At a young age he became aware of the dictatorship in his native country. His first confrontation with the regime of the late King Hassan II was during a student protest. He was arrested and beaten. This eventually resulted in the suspension of school. At the age of 22 (in 1977) he fled to the Netherlands to apply for political asylum there.

Until his death he lived and worked in Amsterdam, where he was active in the radical Moroccan movement Ila Alamam (Forward) and the Moroccan Workers’ Committee in the Netherlands (KMAN). In the end, he left these organisations for ideological reasons. Chacha always remained involved in various human rights organisations. In addition to his activism, as an autodidact he was mainly concerned with literature, language and culture.

Amazigh movement
In the 1980s he was one of the most prominent members of the young Amazigh movement in the Netherlands. It consisted of artists, poets, writers and students. This inspired Chacha to write in Tamazight after he published his first books in Arabic. In the 1990s he founded the Izouran Foundation (roots) with the aim of publishing Riffin literature. Chacha also supported linguist Roel Otten in his lessons in Arabic and Tamazight by reading from his work to improve the speech and listening skills of his students.

Both his songs and his books sing and describe the fate of the workers, women and other marginalized and oppressed groups. Chacha was a passionate and active person. He followed a series of theatre courses and played in various plays, as well as writing his own plays. He took part in cultural events and political meetings throughout Europe. He did this as a spectator, performer and troublemaker. Chacha played lute and sang Izran (Amazigh poems). He also made radio and TV programmes for the Pirate Radio and Amazigh TV, among others. His programmes were mainly about art, culture and politics.

Back in Morocco
For political reasons, Chacha was not allowed to enter his native country for a long time. After the death of Hassan II in 1999, he returned to Morocco to see for himself what the country was like.

In the first years of Mohamed VI’s regime he still had some faith in the promises of the new king. He became disappointed when it became clear to him that a democratic Morocco among the Moroccan Alawites could not be achieved. In the last ten years of his life he joined the Rif movement that advocates a free Rif republic as it was founded by Abdelkrim el Khattabi in 1921. Self-determination for the Rif was his last political demand.

Islamic Criticism
Chacha was critical of religions, especially Islam, the religion he inherited from his parents. He studied the ancient islamic writings such as the Koran and the Hadith (traditions). In his surroundings he often discussed the contradictions in these ‘holy’ texts. On his Facebook page he regularly posted verses from the Koran and stories from the origins of Islam that he did not understand himself or that he found to be in conflict with human rights. These included the marriage of minors, the rights of women and the actions of the prophet Mohamed and his companions.

Last years of life
In 2004, Chacha underwent a lung transplant. His doctors had predicted that he would be able to live with those lungs for another eight years, which eventually turned out to be twelve years. On his sick bed in Amsterdam he continued to write his latest novel: Hdem bna (Hdem bna) (Break down, build up), which he was unable to finish. He continued to work on it until three days before his death. He died on Wednesday 29 June 2016 in Amsterdam at the age of 61.

Chacha was publicly buried in his native village, where women were also present, which is contrary to the Islamic customs in Morocco where only men are allowed to participate in funeral processions. This made Chacha an activist even after his death.



  • Al-Maghrib Al jadid 1979, poetry. “The New Morocco”.
  • Qasaid Al Fuqaraa 1985, poetry. “Poems of the poor”.
  • Ayna Al Amal 198, poetry, “Where is hope”.
  • Kalimaat Mutamarrida 199?, poetry, “Rebellious words”.


  • Raz, Thuɛayantt d tawra zi yitaan 1995, poetry. Hunger, nudity and flight from the dogs.
  • Reẓ ṭṭabu ad d teffeɣt tfukt 1997, roman. “Break the taboo, and the sun will shine”.
  • Ajḍiḍ umi yitwagg celwaw 1998, novel. “The blind bird”.
  • Cway zi tibbuhelya ɛad war twid, 1999, poetry. “Unfinished folly”.
  • Abrid ɣer yezran 2000, study on Izran. “The road to songs”.
  • Tuf teqqen 2015, novel. “It’s stuck”.
  • Tarwa n umadal 2015, children’s book. “Sons of the world”.
  • Aṛaji 2016, poetry. “The waiting”.
  • Tayri n tayri 2016, novel. “Love of love”.
  • Hdem bna 2016, novel. “Abort, build up” (not yet published).


  • Hunger, nudity and flight from the dogs: rebellious verses, 1993. (translation of Raz, thuɛayantt d tawra zi yitaan, 1995).

Translated by Najat M.

Source: https://medium.com/@AmazighInformatieCentrum/mohamed-chacha-1955-2016-84d772c319d5

Prisoner of Conscience Mohamed Jalloul

Mohamed Jalloul before the imprisonment in 2012

Mohamed Jalloul, before his ‘arrest’ in 2012 he was asked by Radio Rif why he called Morocco „Amur N Akuc“ and not the Maghrib. His answer was: “I use the word Amur N Akuc and not the word Maghrib because Maghrib is the Arabic word for the place where the sun sets. If I use the word Maghrib it will seem as if I am in the east. I am in my own country. When I say Maghrib, my reference is abroad and my landmark is the Middle East, while I am in my own country. That is uprooting, we are in Amur N Akuc which means the land of God. That is the original name of Morocco. But when we use the word Maghrib, we suggest that we are part of the East and that we are not independent”.

Mohamed Jalloul and Nasser Zefzafi

Mohamed Jalloul (1971) is a Riffian teacher, human rights activist and trade unionist. He was imprisoned for 5 years for his participation in the February 20 movement in 2012. Shortly after his release, he was re-arrested on 26 May 2017, three days before his fellow fighter Nasser Zefzafi was arrested for his participation in the Riffian people’s movement too. He is the father of three children. His underage daughter Houda had to make a statement to the police after she protested against the kidnapping of her father.

Mohamed Jalloul together with his daughter during a demonstration in the Rif

In June 2018, Mohamed Jalloul was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in a sham trial. On appeal in April 2019, the sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment was maintained.


Translated by Najat M.

Chronology of the Battle of Anwal

The battle of Anwal/Annual was fought between the Riffian anti-imperial forces units, led by Abdelkrim El Khattabi, and the Spanish army, led by Manuel F. Silvestre and Felipe Navarro, that had its military headquarters located in Annual. The victory of the Riffian independence forces was so devastating that the leader of the Spanish battalion in Annual, Manuel F. Silvestre, committed suicide after the battle.

The military conflict started on the first of June 1921 when 500 Riffian militants attacked the Spanish forces in Dhar Obaran which they liberated from the Spanish imperials. Annual fell to the Riffian forces on the 21st of July 1921.

Below, a chronological order of events concerning the battles between the Riffian liberation soldiers and the Spanish imperial troops:

the Spanish occupation of Arif did not go easy and without resistance of the Riffian people. The Riffian leader Mohammed Amezian from Azghenghane led the Riffian resistance forces from 1909 until 1912 when he died on 15 may when he was fighting on the battlefield in Ait Sidel. After Mohamed Amezian, the Riffian front weakened under the leadership of Mohamed Heddo El Azouzi, that took the responsibility to reorganize the Riffian resistance force against the Spanish imperial occupation. After the death of El Azouzi in 1915, the resistance front got weakened even more thoroughly. This left a vacuum in the Riffian leadership. This moment of lack of leadership was exploited by the Spanish and one by one they bought off or simply took over Riffian tribes with the power of surplus man and firepower.

While this was all going on, the Khattabi family was trying to negotiate with the Spanish to convince them that peaceful economic and political relation maintenance would be better for both peoples. Abdelkrim El Khattabi was of this opinion for quite some time. In 1920 he realized that the Spanish were not in the Rif for peaceful negotiations but for economic exploitation to strengthen the imperial needs of Spain. France would also have a similar vision, although France professionalized its exploitation strategies more thoroughly and penetrated Morocco in the economic sense more deeply.

-1920: Abdelkrim El Khattabi (The father) declares ware to the Spanish Imperial army. At the end of June that same year he had 2000 soldiers under his command with which he decides to form a military base located at Wdhia, in the tribal area of Tafersit. The goal of this military base was to form a buffer/blockade to Spanish imperial forces passing the area to gain more land in the Riffian area. This blockade was successful for 20 days, after which he was poisoned by collaborators that forced him to get back to Ajdir on 07/08/1920. After one day of Abdelkrim El Khattabi’s trip to Ajdir, the Riffian forces that stayed at the camp were overrun and lost to the Spanish after a quick and massive attack on Tafersit.

– Spain used the method of buying off Riffian loyalty to the rebellion of people that had an influence on their tribes. These bought off tribe-leaders would then tell their tribesmen that a contra force against the Spanish would be ineffective and would only lead to severe losses. Spain also had many Riffian infiltrators who would stoke and generate friction within the unifying body force of Abdelkirm. The goal of these infiltrations was to tire the forces and prevent total unification against the imperial forces. As an example for those cases of infiltration: Spain had infiltrated the Ibaqqoyen and Ait Wayagher tribes and had 40 so-called ‘friends’, of which also the family of El Khattabi until 1920. 25 of these important figures and so-called ‘friends’ of the imperial forces, received monthly salaries of 75 pesetas for their collaboration.

– Even though the Spanish military tried to bribe Riffians and set them up against each other, the will of Abdelkrim El Khattabi to liberate the Riffian lands, remained influential and strong among the Riffian followers and fighters. Mohamed, the son of Abdelkrim El Khattabi took over the position of his father that died as a result of poisoning. Mohamed came to be known by the name of his father  Abdelkrim Al Khattabi. His real name was Mohamed or Mohend, as the Riffians call him. Mohend Abdelkrim El Khattabi organized a meeting with the Ait Wayagher tribe in Imzouren. The meeting was joined by the leaders of Ait Wayagher and a couple of fighters from surrounding tribes. During the meeting, the decision was made to set up a military revolt against the Spanish imperial forces. Also, the decision was made to end feuds between certain tribes and families.

– 05 December 1920. Spain occupies the tribe of Ait Oulichek and subsequently the tribe of Ait Said. All the tribes east of this geographically linked line fell to the Spanish between 1912 and 1920.

– 12 januari 1921. Spain ooccupies Sidi Hsayn and Ras Afaro.

– 15 January 19121. Spain occupies Annual after they strengthened their camps in Ben Tayeb and Driouch (that fell to the Spanish previously). Annual is located in the tribal area of Ait Oulichek that neighbors the tribe of Temsamane and is also close to the highlands of Ait Said. Annual is distanced 16 km from Ben Tayeb, 35 km from Driouch and 106 km from Melilia.

– 12 ch 1921. Spain occupies Sidi Driss where the Amegan river mouths. Abdelrkim Elkhattabi had already warned the Spanish not to cross the Amegan river.

– 13 April 1921. Spanish cannons were set up on the island of Noukour, localized in front of the bay of Alhoceima, to bombard a weekly market in Ait Wayagher. This was meant as a punishment because the unwelcome attitude of the notables of the tribe towards the Spanish Resident-General Berenguer. The canons also bombarded a couple of residential buildings surrounding the market in Ajdir. This bombardment of civilian targets resulted in some deaths and casualties but did not reap the desired effect (fear and terror). Instead of fleeing their houses, the Riffians of Ait Wayagher grabbed their flint rifles and shot at the artillery position on Nekor. This was, of course, a symbolic response as the firepower of the used flint rifles and projectiles was not effective enough to reach the Spanish artillery forces. Abdelkrim spoke to his people uttering the following words: Dying while you protect your land is better than surrendering to an infiltrator. In the end, the bombardment from the island of Nekour had the opposite effect. The Riffian tribes even more strongly and increased their alliance to the resistance lead by Mohend El Khattabi.

– Notables of Temsamane were doubtful about the resistance against the Spanish imperial forces. Many of them followed the orders of the Spanish to spare their people from suffering. As a result of these developments and because Temsamane was of strategic value to the Riffian resistance, a camp was built at the end of y 1921 on the mountain of Qama. This camp was had 500 fighters defending it. Their main task was to keep an eye on any Spanish. In April, the camp was strengthened with even more fighters. In total there were 3000 fighters from Ait Wayagher, Ibaqqoyen, Ait Touzine and Rabae n Truggut (subtribe of the Ait Temsamane tribe)

-13 April 1921. The Riffian resistance spreads to two other camps in Sidi Boyaccoub and in the place called Aliman close to Sidi Chaib. This was to watch the Spanish front Annual-Sidi Driss alertly to evade any surprise attacks. The resistance was planning to build up a camp on Dhar Abaran to control the perimeters over the river Ameqran.

-General Silvestre, a friend of the king of Spain Alfonso XIII, supreme commander of the army in Melilla (that was responsible for the eastern and mid area in the Rif) and leader of the Spanish offensive, underestimated the creation of the Riffian camp on the Qama mountain. Silvestre thought that Abdelkirm was just planning to elevate his negotiation position with the Spanish, but after the formation of two other camps, Silvestre realized Abdelkrim had different plans. The Spanish general had plans to cross the Ameqran river in August or September. To subsequently occupy the Abaran mountain. The growing numbers of Riffian fighters made him deice to come into action faster than planned. Especially after some bought Riffian off traitors told the Spanish that most Riffian fighters and their leader Abdelkrim left the Qama camp to attend a meeting in Sidi Bouhfaf.

– 01 June 1921 (24th day of Ramadan). At 01:00, 1500 Spanish soldiers march to occupy Abaran under the lead of Villar and accompanied by 485 mules that were packed with ammunition and food. Even though the mountain is located only 6 km away from Annual, it took the Spanish troops roughly 4 hours to reach the top of Abaran. At their arrival, the Spanish quickly transformed the mountaintop into a strong camp surrounded by trenches, barricades and barbed wires. After the reinforcements and fortifications on this camp were finished, most soldiers returned to the base in annual. Only 278 soldiers remained at Abaran as a defensive unit. 200 of them were Riffian . The Abaran camp had two canons at her disposal.

-01 1921. At sunrise, the Spanish military activity on Abaran surprized the Riffian fighters in Qama. They sent signals quickly to the other positions to let everyone know the Spanish crossed the Ameqran river and that Abaran fell to the Spanish. Within no time they arrived with a force of 500 Riffian fighters that took the responsibility to retake Abaran from the Spanish. This Riffian force was divided into three parts, the first group attacked Abaran from the west (from Ait Bouyacoub), the second group attacked from the north en the third group attacked from the east (from the village of Ifassia). The Riffian siege began at 15:00 and ended at 17:00. The fight lasted 2 hours and resulted in a Riffian victory and the liberation of Abaran.


– Only 20 Spanish (some sources report 6) managed to reach Annual. Fifty of the two hundred soldiers survived the attack.

– Roughly 150 soldiers were killed among which a couple of officers. The Riffians took two canons, flint rifles, machine guns, ammunition, and food. Food was important around this time. Arif was dealing with a heavy famine that made it easy for many Riffians to collaborate to remain in life.

– The attack took the lives of four Riffian fighters.

After the liberation of Abaran the Riffian fighters attacked the Spanish camp in Sidi Driss, but the attack failed because Sidi Driss was better defended and the Riffian had a hard time breaching the barbed wires around the perimeter.

After Abaran the roles were switched. The Riffian forces went in the offensive mode and the Spanish went to hide in camps around Annual. These camps were fortified. The victory of the Riffians in Dhar Abaran spread quickly between the tribes and convinced many doubting Riffians to join the cause and ranks of Mohend  El Khattabi that rapidly counted around 4000 fighters. The role of women should not be underestimated. These women were the main spreaders of news of the resistance around the tribes. The Riffian women operate as motivators and kept the men focussed as they chanted izran about the heroic acts of their men that were defending their lands.

– 12 June a Special unit of the Riffian forces that had proved their capacities in previous battles, crosses the Ameqran river.

– On the 14th of June, the group d at Amzawrou at which the Spanish had a camp for a certain period. Amzawrou lies in the heart of Temsamane shortly distanced from the Spanish camp in Boumejjan and 9 km from Annual. Between Amzawrou and Boumejjan there was a natural geographical barrier that made it hard for the Spanish forces in Annual to watch the Riffians in Amzawrou. On the 14th of June, the Riffians were attacked from Boumejjaan and Annual. The Spanish wanted to push them out of their strategic location. The Riffian forces were under constant suppression fire so they decided to hide at daytime and to dig trenches at night time. When the got far enough the Amzawrou camp became an important position for the Riffian military resistance

– To keep an eye on the Riffians in Amzawrou the base in Annual sent a group consisting of 50 soldiers to scout an area close to Sidi Brahim and between Amzwroue and Annual, on a daily basis. These Spanish scouts watched the Riffians during the day and returned to their camp in Annual at night time.

– On the 15th of June, a group of 50 soldiers leaves Annual to never return. The group was killed by Riffian flint rifle soldiers. Even though they had canon cover from the hills, the fight ambush did not take roughly 10 minutes and resulted in roughly 200 deaths and casualties.

– When sidi Ibrahim fell into the hands of the Riffian forces the resistance continued with secret contacting of the mercenaries that fought for Spain. Also fast and short lasting attacks were executed by the Riffian fighters with a quick change of position to distract the Spanish forces and keep them busy with extrapolating where the next attacks could take place and where the weak spots would be in the defensive fronts of the resistance.

– On the 17th of June, the Spanish forces arrive in Ighriben that lies in Temsamane, near Tizi Azza and distanced from Annual with 6 km in the direction of Ben Tayeb. 500 Spanish soldiers under the lead of the famous Benitez, built their fortifications and transformed Ighriben in a strongly defendable camp. The Riffian response was rapid. Thee Riffian units attacked the fortified base from two directions. The first group attacked from Sidi Bouacoub and the second from Tizi Azza. The Riffian fighters did not succeed to retake the base and thus surrounded it from different positions. The Riffian found the weak spot of the Spanish forces protecting the base. The Ighriben camp was located 4 km from the closest water source in Sidi Abderrahman. From their camp in the situation. Silvestre sent several units to break the Riffian encirclement and to transport water to the military base. Not a single convoy managed to reach the base at Ighriben and every trial failed. All units were defeated and the forces were forced to retreat to Annual with many casualties in the process.

– On 17 June The Spanish forces arrived in Ighriben, a location that lies in Temsamane, closeby Tizi Azzza and 6km from Annual in the direction of Ben Tayeb. 500 Spanish soldiers under the lead of the now famous Benitez built their fortifications and transformed Ighriben into a strong camp. The Riffian response was however fast. Two Riffian units executed a collective attack on the Spanish. The first group attacked from Sidi Bouyacoup and the second group from Tizi Azza. The Riffian fighters did however not manage to retake the heavily fortified camp and so it was encircled. The Riffians knew to find the weak spot of the camp in Ighriben. The camp was 4km away from the closest water source that was located in Sidi Abderrahman. From the camp in Sidi Btahim, the Riffians encircled the camp to prevent the Spanish from restocking their water reserves. The Spanish tried several times to occupy the water source of Sidi Abderrahman with every trial losing a significant amount of men, weapons, and ammunition due to the sniper fire of the Riffian fighters. It was clear the Spanish were encircled critically in Ighriben and the for water only the situation in the long run. Silvestre sent several units to break the Riffian siege and restock the encircled camp in Ighriben with water. Not a single convoy could reach the location without getting destroyed by the Riffian forces. All the intervening forces were forced to return to Annual after having to take heavy casualties.

– 700 Riffian soldiers besieged the Spanish military camp in Ighriben. They dug themselves in small and deep trenches along the most important routes that lead to Ighriben along the Aghzar Hmam river that separates Ighriben from Annual. Along with this line, 100 Riffian fighters were positioned. They were the most brace and skilled fighters from the resistance that were known within the army of Abdelkrim as one of the best sharpshooters.

– The siege of Ighriben lasted for 5 days from 17 July until 22 July.

– 18 July 1921. Riffian fighters bombard the Spanish forces in Ighriben with the canons they obtained in the previous battle in Abaran. The first couple of shots fell far from their targets. But as the Spanish noticed in Annual, the Riffian fighters learned with eager will and haste. The canons started to hit targets which had a huge impact on the moral of the Spanish Imperial forces. Not only in Ighriben but also in Annual and the rest of the camps, the Spanish had to often see how their soldiers were killed by their own weaponry and artillery fire.

– 19 July 1921. The Spanish imperial forces use their air force to break the siege, with little to no result.

– 20 July 1921. General Navarro arrives in Annual traveling from Melilia accompanied by 1400 soldiers. Abdelkrim El Khattabi (also called Moulay Mohend) saw the possibility of demoralization. To prevent this from happening he visited his forces at the front and spoke to them in a way that gave them bravery and focus. Abdelkrim called Benitez (Leader of the Spanish Imperial forces in Ighriben) to cease fire and return to Annual, but Benitez refuses the proposal of Abdelkrim because he was expecting the joining of the forces of general Navaro soon. Benitez chose to wait for the reinforcements of Navaro. Even though his troops were drinking the juice of potatoes and sometimes even their own urine as a result of lacking water reserves at their position.

– 21 July 1921. As expected by Abdelkirm, Silvestre and Navarro led the attack on the Riffian positions personally. Three thousand Spanish soldiers participated in this operation. The military activities started in the early morning and lasted for more than 8 hours. The Riffian positions stood their ground and sharpshooters hidden inside hidden trenches dealt great damage to the attacking Spanish forces. It was clear for Silvestre and Navarro that the Riffian positions were stronger than they previously thought. After the sight of seeing the casualties pile up, Silvestre ordered his troops to recapitulate and head back to their base in Annual.

– 21 July 1921. On the night of the same day of the retreat from sniper fire, Silvestre ordered Benitez to clear out the camp in Ighriben and return to Annual. It was a suicidal mission, considering the fact that the Riffians had already encircled Ighriben. Still, Benitez follows the orders his general Silvestre. Just 9 soldiers (some sources claim 20) reached Annual. At the end of that long day, 50 Riffian fighters died and 165 got wounded. The retake of Ighriben resulted in the takeover of 4 large cannons, mules (that were used for the transport of equipment and food) and weaponry consisting mainly of flint rifles and machine guns.

-After the fall of Ighriben, the moral of the Spanish soldiers fell to a rock-bottom. Especially after the stories of the survivors were shared among Spanish forces spread out over Arif. At the other side, the Riffian moral was high. This was mainly because the resistance was looking more and more like an army defending its people. This was mainly due to the strategic implementations of Abdelkrim El Khatttabi.

After the fall of Ighriben, the Riffian forces strengthen the grip on Annual and aligned themselves along the Aghzar Hmam in front of the gates of Annual at wich roughly 6000 Spanish soldiers were stationed with more than 84 canons. The Riffian resistance form at that time and location consisted of 1500 fighters. Even though this high difference in numbers the Riffians could still operate effectively by using Guerrilla tactics like spreading out and opening fire from many directions. Because the Spanish imperial forces are used to imperial style warfare this spread out tactic of the Riffians gave them the impression they were fighting a 10.000 strong Riffian force. The low morale and fear on the Spanish side also played a role in this over expectation they had of the capabilities of the Riffians to dissolve their forces.

– 22 July 1921 Silvestre negotiates with the Spanish army elites about the possible actions to be taken. After heated discussions between the different generals and officers, the decision was made to launch a surprise attack on the 24th of July and after that push the Riffian fronts with large numbers. Two of Abdelkrimsbe involved, the total estimation of firepower that would be used and the moral of the military at the camp.

– 23 Juli 1921. The Spanish base in Annual was completely encircled by the Riffian forces. Abdelkrim El Khattabi was ready to send the signal of attack but waited on the play of Silvestre.

– 24 Juli 1921 The Spanish air force and Artillery division bombs the surrounding areas of Annual to increase chaos and spread among the Riffian positions. In the night of that same day, Riffian collaborators, led by the Riffian traitor Bouthnachnouchth.

– 25 July 1921. At 10:00 Silvestre orders his soldiers to clear out the camp and return to Ben Tayeb. Navaro remained in Annual with a unit to cover the units that were moving out. However the preplanned stable coordination the execution ended up in total chaos. Soldiers did not follow the orders of their officers. It was a kind of free for all situation. Every Spanish soldier tried to save his own life with severe consequences for the entire army. Only a small group of soldiers survived and managed to reach Arouit via Driouch. It is at Driouch that a big disaster was awaiting the Spanish imperial forces.

– After the fall of Annual, the Spanish positions (Boumejjan, Tmamist, Ben Tayeb, Dar Bouzian, Driouch, Dar El kebdani etc) fell to the Riffian forces. A lot of these positions were liberated without any military operations. In Sidi Driss, there was a military between the Spanish and Riffian forces with the Spanish being supported from the sea. After this conflict, also Sidi Driss fell to the Riffian forces.

– Every tribe that was liberated, joined the imperial opposition forces which made the number of fighters grow constantly. At the same time, it was more difficult to control all these tribes and the growing number of men joining the forces. Many of those tribesmen had an uncontrollable hate for the Spanish because of the not too old humiliations they experienced.

– 02 Augustus 1921. Fighters besiege Nador, some of the newly joined fighters don’t conform to the behavior codes/orders of Abdelkrim El Khattabi and were out to plunder the property of the Spanish colonists that were to be found in Nador at that time. After this plundering happened Abdelkrim sent a group of organized fighters to Nador to restabilize the matter, make the plunderings stop and most importantly stop the Riffan fighters that were motivated to hurt Spanish civilians in name of revenge.

-03 Augustus 1921. Liberation of Selouane.

– Since 02 August 1921, the Spanish camp Arouit was besieged by the Riffian resistance forces. It was a strategic location 40 km from Melilia. The camp on the highest point of Monte arouit had vision over the Bouaarg valley and from Arouit, the mines in the Ikhsan mountain and the used railways could be protected. The Spanish had 3000 soldiers at this base of which 70 officers. The siege lasted 10 days during which the Spanish did not any water nor food. This forced Navaro to negotiation with Moulay Mohend. The mediators in this negotiation process were Driss Bensaid (official for the Spanish in Titawin/Tetouan) and Benchellal, a notable from Ait Bouyafrour. A deal was made between Abdelkrim and Navaro. It was requested of Navaro to order his soldiers to leave the base leaving weapons and ammunition behind. If they accepted Abdelkrims terms he would guarantee a safe passage out towards Melilia.

On the 12th of August, the Spanish army cleared out its camp according to the terms. However, a couple of Spanish soldiers could not accept the defeat and kept some weapons with them. These soldiers surprised the Riffians when they started shooting. As a reaction, the Riffians started shooting back. Unarmed Spanish soldiers were also hit by this unexpected conflict. Abdelkrim was very upset about this event considering the fact that 2000 Spanish soldiers and only 70 Riffians died. 400 Spanish troops were taken as prisoners of war of which also general Navaro. Abdelkrim was outraged about the killings of unarmed Spanish soldiers or captives of war that were attacked by Riffian forces while the codes of war were made clear by Abdelkrim for the whole resistance force.

– The Riffian fighters of the recently liberated tribes had a deep-rooted hatred for the imperial Spanish forces that occupied their lands for many years, during which many Riffian lost relatives. The raping of women, stealing of fertile land and gifting to Spanish colonists was also common in many areas. When the Riffian forces saw how the Spanish collapsed they felt it was the right time to deal the blows of bitter revenge.

– Arouitin Melilia. After the fall of the camp in Annual Melilia had no defense perimeter and was basically to be liberated by Abdelkirm without any significant military resistance or risk of casualties. Against all odds, Abdelkrim did not give the order to storm take Melilia. Melilia did only have a few soldiers to maintain order and there were large crowds of people who were trying to get on boats to flee the city and cross the Mediterranean sea. A state of chaos and fear was existent in the harbor city and Abdelkrim refrained from sending in his troops out of fear that his soldiers would act in name of revenge. Something that went against his codes of war.

– The battles started on op 01-06-1921 and ended with the surrender of Navaro on 12-08-1921, in 72 days the Riffian forces of Abdelkrim achieved to liberated what the Spanish had captured in 11 years of military occupation. In 72 days the Spanish lost more than 15.000 soldiers and 1.100 Spanish soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. The Riffian forces gained 192 canons, 350 machine guns, 20.000 flint rifles, a couple of million munition rounds, other ammunition, food, medicine, transport animals like mules and other military equipment.

The consequences of the Annual battle:
– Silvestre commits suicide in Annual after the major defeat.

– The defeat of the Spanish at Annual led to the coup of 1923. Primo de Rivera removed king Alfonso as the ruler of Spain and took over as a dictator. This event was consequently the main reason for the Spanish civil war between 1936 – 1939.

– This major victory gave Abdelkrim El Kattabi more momentum as an influential leader. He managed to unify the Rfiffian tribes even more effectively.

– The large quantities of weapons and ammunition that were acquired on the battlefield, were sufficient to reequip, strengthen and organize the Riffian Army in more effective ways.

– 18 September 1921: Creation of the independent Rif Republic with Abdelkrim El Khattabi as president.

– The Rif Republic survived from 1921 until 1926. During this period it fought a brutal war against a coalition consisting of French, Spanish, British, and Alaoui forces. The British provided the coalition with a guaranteed sea blockade that made it impossible for Arif to receive food, aid or weaponry to defend itself. Germany was also involved by providing and allowing the use of chemical weapons by the Spanish imperial forces on the Riffians. These chemical weapons have to lead to higher rates of cell mutations and thus high occurrences of cancer in the later generations that stem from the Riffians that were affected by these German chemical weapons. A military force between 700.000 and 900.000 in size, was forged to fight the Riffians in this pacification and destruction of any opposition to imperial exploitation by the French and Spanish forces. The Riffian forces of Abdelkrim El Khattabi consisted of a mere 70 thousand fighters. The population size of the whole Rif area at that time consisted of roughly 500.000 people.

The Rif region was attacked with tonnes of chemical bombs sometimes wiping out complete villages when dropped ad hoc. There was also a relatively large amphibious landing at the coast near Sabadilla. The goal of the amphibious landing was to isolate Ajdir and capture it. The land offenses but especially the chemical bomb raids were too devastating and would lead to immense casualties if a surrender was not handed over.

On the 26th of May 1926, the Republic of Abdelkrim and his fighter fell. The technical war was lost due to a severe difference in firepower and military capacity and the use of chemical weapons. Abdelkrim had to surrender to prevent large domestic casualties. Briefly, after the fall of the republic, the leader of the Riffian army was exiled and put far away from the land he loved the most and wanted to free like a dove in a cave.

More than 70 generals, hundreds of military airplanes, battleships and the most modern weaponry built at that time were needed to destroy a small army of flint rifled farmers. Abdelkrim El Khattabi knew how to unify simple men and women to fight for their independence. The urge for freedom in Arif still lives on in the hearts of the children of those men and women who saw the ambition of the imperials and did not surrender. Even though the Riffians lost the war against the overpowered coalition, the dream and the vision of their leader Abdelkrim still whirls inside the minds and hearts of many Riffians and Imazighen today in Tamazgha. Defeating Abdelkrim by overpowering his independence rebellion and taking away his homeland by putting him in exile the Imperials have done. Instilling his vision in the minds of his people, however, is a victory that the Imperials could never take away from him.

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