Marshal Lyautey.. the French colonialist who fell in love with Morocco

Here lies Louis Hubert Lyautey, the first Resident-General (ambassador) of France in Morocco, who died in the womb of the Catholic religion, where Louis, in the framework of his deep faith in it, obtained the last Christian secrets, and who was deeply respectful of the traditions of the ancestors and the Islamic religion that was preserved and practiced by the inhabitants of Morocco where he wanted to rest, among their vastness, in this land which he so dearly loved. This is not a testimony against the French Marshal Louis Hubert Lyautey on the part of those who worked alongside him. Rather, it is the text that Lyautey himself recommended to write on his tombstone, which was in Morocco, before General Charles Duquel requested that his body be returned to France in 1961 and burial in Paris.

Lyouti’s tombstone reflects a duality that may seem illogical in the personality of the colonial leaders. It is not about an anthropologist, a cleric or a merchant who came into contact with another society and admired its people, their customs and traditions, but rather it is about a military leader of an army whose first mission is to occupy another country, subjugate its people and exploit its resources, under the cover of Legally represented in the protection treaty that was signed between the Moroccan Sultan Abdel Hafeez and the French ambassador Renault in 1912. Therefore, Lyautey’s feelings towards Morocco appear in conflict with the purpose for which France was appointed, and these feelings push us to get closer to Lyautey’s personality and to search for the underlying reasons behind these feelings. The relationship that we weave with Morocco and Moroccans.

Lyautey strongly opposed the French idea of ​​”integration” aimed at making the peoples of the French colonies in Africa, Asia and the islands of the South Seas French by culture.

Lyautey.. from the hills of Nancy to the leadership of the French colonies

On the northern bank of the French Fjord River, and precisely in the small city of Nancy in northeastern France, Louis-Hubert Gonzalof Lyautey saw the light on a winter day in November in the year 1854, where he received his education until he obtained his baccalaureate degree in 1872, and it was for France’s defeat against Germany The year 1870 – and the resulting loss of Alsace and Lorraine – played a major role in Lyautey’s orientation towards the military field, so he joined the famous military school in Saint-Cyr in 1873, and then joined the Army’s High Staff School in 1876.

Lyouti was able to chart a distinguished military path for himself, as he joined the cavalry, then took command of the Staff of the Arms Division “No. 07”, and then held the position of commander of the first military unit of the fourth regiment of the Knights of Arms in 1887. This distinguished path could not fault him. The eyes of the French military leaders who were in dire need of military frameworks that contribute to the management of France’s overseas possessions, and among them was the French colonel “Joseph Gallieni” who ruled the colony of Indochina, and who suggested to the young military leader to join him there, and there Lyuty will switch between the positions of Chief of Staff of the Army, then Director of the Military Office, and then Governor-General of Indochina.

Lyautey did not miss the opportunity to assume leadership positions in the French colonies, especially in the Vietnamese Tonkan; Where he showed his efficiency and sophistication in managing the Asian colony, and crystallized in it the features of his plan known as the “oil spot”, which prompted the French government to appoint him governor of the island of Madagascar, the French colony in the Indian Ocean in 1897. To move it towards one of its most important colonies in North Africa, specifically in Algeria, which France considered a French province since its occupation in 1830, and starting in October 1903, Lyautey will be appointed governor of southern Oran on the Moroccan border under the command of the general military governor of Algeria, General “Jounnar” Because of the many commonalities between the Algerian and Moroccan societies, and the experience gained by Lyautey in managing the colonies, the French leadership could not have thought of someone else to occupy the position of the first French resident-general in Morocco after the signing of the protection treaty in 1912.

Lyouti’s colonial policy…between love and war

Lyautey strongly opposed the French idea of ​​”integration” aimed at making the peoples of the French colonies in Africa, Asia and the islands of the South Seas French by culture. , because achieving protection in partnership with the previous ruling bodies, and not against them or their exclusion, will lead to subjugating these countries “at a lower cost and greater success than if all our military corps gathered on this,” according to him, and this does not mean, in the eyes of Lyuty, that France will give up taking control of these matters. Colonies, the core of his philosophy of protection.

“Protection, not direct rule, judge with the people of the country and not against them, do not abuse any tradition and do not alter any custom, unite the nature of rulers and our interests, judge with the storehouse”; With this phrase, Lyautey tries to reduce the essence of his colonial policy in Morocco, although it is completely inconsistent with the way the leaders of the French colonies, which were based on direct rule, and cut off any participation of local elites in running the colonies, and Lyautey seemed insistent on fulfilling the spirit of the protection treaty signed with Morocco, Which France tried to make just a legal cover for the process of occupying the country, but Lyautey, who gained the experience of running French colonies in different regions in terms of the nature of the societies and the ruling elites in them, was well aware that the case of Morocco is unique and requires a special colonial policy.

Lyouti translated his ideas on various occasions and speeches that he gave to local rulers. In one of his speeches, he addressed the Sultan’s ministers, tribal leaders and Moroccan city workers in the early years of protection, saying, “You know how keen I was to keep everyone and everything in their traditional place and that Leadership remains in the hands of its natural owners, so they rule and are obeyed.” Some historians argue that Lyouti’s keenness on the customs and beliefs of the Moroccan people did not stem solely from his colonial ideas, as it was “a sincere emotional attachment to the Jordan Valley and not a reduction in the wing imposed by necessity.”

Lyautey’s intelligence in dealing with the peculiarities of Moroccan society made his image linked to the concern for religion and local traditions and respect for tribal customs, and he embodies the image of an employee sympathetic to the people of the colonial country. One of the surrendered tribes after the Pacification, especially when he describes the crowds who came to meet Lyuty and the spectacle of women adorned with silver ornaments and children kissing his hand. Is it a matter of colonial propaganda aimed at portraying Lyuty in the character of compassion for the people of the country, and erasing what is associated with the colonial leaders from their thirst for oppression and extermination of the local people to consolidate the authority of the colonial state?

This prompts us to monitor the features of Yawty’s colonial policy, to see that the option of force was the last thing that was offered to Yawty. His policy was unsuccessful in Morocco, as he clung to the need to preserve the country’s constants and their importance in consolidating the French presence. He succeeded in convincing the French leadership of his policy, after he was able to put down most of the Moroccan armed resistance movements in the early twenties of the last century.

Civil and Islamic politics..a way to go to the hearts of Moroccans

Lyautey was well aware of the size of the position occupied by the Islamic religion and everything related to it in Moroccan society, and his keenness to show respect for the Islamic religion prompted him to put in place a set of measures in what he described as “Islamic policy”, aimed at preserving the scenes of daily life so that Moroccans do not feel That they are foreigners inside their country, through a set of measures, foremost of which is building new cities outside the “Old City” and reforming the latter so that it becomes a kind of “sanctuary” towards which the eyes of Europeans do not extend and are not affected by their greed. Lyautey realized that the Islamic city in which martyrdom is architecture, in the words of Louis Massignon, the great orientalist who was one of Lyautey’s advisors. Lyautey also sought to protect the indigenous population from what Daniel Rivi described as the “European ulcer”, and to stop the process of Frenching the country, because a French Moroccan is a person with the ability to work and represents a loss for his country as well as for protection. Lyouti’s opponents criticized these decisions, claiming that the concern to avoid a clash of civilizations may lead to the imprisonment of Moroccans in their local privacy and the division of Morocco into two spaces, as if we were in front of a play in which locals play a role written for them by a foreign director while preserving a dose of sacredness in people’s lives, because Lyouti was He intuitively believes that if the sacred becomes defiled, if it becomes more sacred, its sanctity will be absent.

Yauti was well aware that there is no authority over the Moroccans stronger than the authority of the sacred, and that the ties that exist between the ruler and the ruled lose their strength unless they are rooted in religion and honor. Therefore, Lyouti was keen to get close to the Sultan because he is the cornerstone and the head of the pyramid in building Moroccan society. He descends on his horse, and he urges Sultan Moulay Yusuf to play well the role of the Sultan and arrange Moroccan society in a vertical order from the head of this community, which is the Commander of the Faithful, then after him the palace, city notables, senior scholars and sheikhs of corners, then senior leaders who were keen to buy their loyalty, and then the general The people are workers and peasants, and Lyautey used to contemplate the organization of Moroccan society in the mirror of the allegiance that binds the sultan to the rest of the subjects, and considers it more legitimate than the social contract in the modern sense, and thus establishes the sacred character of absolute ownership in Morocco and in the minds of Moroccans.

The military officers – who worked alongside Lyautey – were completely convinced of his ideas and worked hard to implement them, most notably Colonel Perrio, one of the loyal officers of Lyautey to the point of being considered the spiritual father of politics, administration and security. Berriot had held the position of responsible for the political, administrative and intelligence department in Morocco since 1912, and he died of a severe cold in 1918, and according to what he said to Yawty, “Many people were skilled either in examining files, or properly interpreting data, or accurate knowledge of local and literary languages ​​(and these are all things combined). in it), but not one of them possessed that ability to understand the lover of the Maghreb, and because the people felt that passion and that love, they, here, in North Africa, did not hesitate to exchange the same feeling with sincerity, for everyone from the leaders to “Al-Koum” in Algeria And from Sultan Moulay Youssef to the members of the Makhzen here in Morocco, down to the simplest people, some of whom were crying heartily over his corpse, all of them saw him as a friend and had blind trust in him.

Lyuty’s testimony against his officer Perio reflects his conviction that the civil policy of the Protection Department is not just a way to manage the colonies, as much as they are convictions imposed by the nature of the local community and the extent to which its values ​​and traditions are rooted, and a colonial leader cannot be successful without adopting these convictions. His policy that he will adopt in Morocco, where he said on one occasion, “I came back from Paris with a clear certainty, expressed by influential parties, that it cannot be touched or discussed, for the protection regime is not a matter of opinion, neither personal, nor local, nor French. It is a reality that determines it. Charters and agreements, which are guaranteed by international charters, neither of us nor the government has the authority to amend them, and the result is that Morocco is an independent state protected by France and that it is under the authority of the Sultan with his own system, and one of the first conditions of my mandate is to guarantee the unity and respect of his political system.


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