Hassan II of Morocco
|“||There is no greater danger to a country than a so-called intellectual; it would have been better if you had all been illiterate.||„|
|~ Hassan II|
King Hassan II (Arabic: الْحسْنُ الثاني بْن مُحَمَّدُ بْن يوسف بْن الْحسْنِ بْن الشَّرِيفِ بْن عَلِيُّ الْعَلَوِيِّ, MSA: (a)l-ḥasan aṯ-ṯānī, Maghrebi Arabic: el-ḥasan ett(s)âni; 9 July 1929 – 23 July 1999) was King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty. He was the eldest son of Mohammed V, Sultan, then King of Morocco (1909–1961), and his second wife, Lalla Abla bint Tahar (1909–1992). Hassan was known to be one of the most severe rulers of Morocco, widely accused of authoritarian practices and of being an autocrat and a dictator, particularly during the Years of Lead.
Hassan, after taking a law degree at Bordeaux, France, was appointed commander of the Royal Armed Forces (1955) and deputy premier (1960) and succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, Muḥammad V (1961). As king, Hassan tried to democratize the Moroccan political system by introducing a new constitution (1962) that provided for a popularly elected legislature while maintaining a strong executive branch headed by the king.
From 1965 to 1970 he exercised authoritarian rule in order to contain opposition to his regime, but he restored limited parliamentary government under a new constitution in 1970 and instituted some socioeconomic reforms following attempted coups in 1971, 1972, and 1973.
In the struggle between Morocco and Algeria over Spanish Sahara (later Western Sahara), Hassan strongly promoted Morocco’s claim to the territory, and in November 1975 he called for a “Green March” of 350,000 unarmed Moroccans into the territory to demonstrate popular support for its annexation. Western Sahara was in fact divided between Morocco and Mauritania (1976), but this victory proved to be hollow, since guerrillas of the Polisario Front, agitating for Saharan independence, tied down Moroccan troops and prevented the exploitation of the phosphate deposits that had made the Sahara desirable to Morocco in the first place.
Relations with Mauritania were tense too, as Morocco only recognized it as a sovereign country in 1969, nearly a decade after Mauritania's independence, because of Moroccan claims on the country. In 1985, Hassan II suspended Morocco's membership of the Organization of African Unity and enters into conflict with Burkinabe President Thomas Sankara because of his decision to recognize the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Morocco's human rights record was extremely poor during the period from the 1960s to the late 1980s, which was labelled as the "years of lead" and saw thousands of dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared. During this time, Morocco was one of the most repressive and undemocratic nations in the world. However, Morocco has been labelled as "partly free" by Freedom House, except in 1992 and 2014 when the country was labelled "Not free" in those years respectively.
The country would only become more democratic by the early 1990s amid strong international pressure and condemnation over the nation's human rights record. Due to the strong rebuke from other nations and human rights groups, and also because of the realistic threat of international isolation, Hassan II would then gradually democratize the nation over time. Since then, Morocco's human rights record has improved modestly, and improved significantly following the death of Hassan II.
Despite criticisms concerning human rights abuses, Hassan was generally credited with having adroitly maintained the fragile unity of Morocco. He held on to his authority when several other Arab states were toppled by fundamentalist Islamic revolutionaries. In foreign affairs he cultivated markedly closer relations with the United States and the West than his father had. This closeness was to some extent possible because of Hassan’s moderate positions on the state of Israel.
The United States especially valued his ability to mediate between conflicting parties in the Middle East during the Cold War. During World War II, Hassan’s father defied the Axis order to deport Morocco’s large Jewish population. Many Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel after the war, and Hassan claimed that this population formed a bridge between Arabs and Israelis. By the early 1980s Hassan had accepted the existence of the state of Israel and moved to the forefront of peace negotiations in the Middle East.
Hassan was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Sīdī Muḥammad, whose name was restyled to Muḥammad VI when he ascended to the throne.