Chemical Weapons Were Used By Spanish Army Against Civilians in Northern Morocco

Chemical Weapons were used following  Spain's
disastrous defeat at "Anwal" Battle in 1921.

While the use of chemical weapons, namely mustard gas, by the Spanish army against civilians in the Rif region is not in dispute, its political, human and moral consequences have not been debated.  Obviously, today’s Spain does not need this bad publicity. In addition, it is neither politically correct nor diplomatically prudent to address this touchy subject. However, such historical events must be openly debated and lessons must be learned as long as the debate is civil and in the “correct” context.

According to several historians, Spain humiliated in the battle of "ANWAL" at the hands of the local leader Abdelkarim Al-Khatabi and its warriors, responded in a vengeful manner dropping thousands of mustard bombs on unarmed civilians in the Rif region in the north of Morocco.  The chemical weapon air campaign lasted four years approximately ending in 1926 or 1927. Certain historical dates and locations are not clear and final since Spain and Germany that supplied the banned chemical weapons avoided creating a paper trail that may be used one day to incriminating them in this horrendous crime.

While there is no count of the number of victims of this carnage, the indiscriminate use of such lethal bombs against dozens of villages must have created mass killings. The 1920’s badly equipped and poorly trained Spanish army did not digest its spectacular defeat against the resistance of the Rifan fighters in Annual; and had to resort to banned weapons of mass destruction to subdue the fearless Moroccan fighters. The use of mustard bombs was a turning point in Spain’s colonial campaign in Morocco. After “gassing” its way into the Rif Mountains, Spain solidified its grip on northern Morocco leading to an occupation that lasted until 1956 and beyond in other parts of Morocco.

The historical aspect of this event is very significant as various countries including France and Australia are coming to grips with their colonial sins. Spain should join the rest of the former western colonial powers in admitting its role in this massacre and opening up it archives in order to shed the light on this dark chapter of its colonial history in Morocco.
The horrific acts perpetrated by the Spanish army of the 1900’s are not in any way, shape or form a reflection on today’s Spain. However, the killings of unknown number of civilians using banned chemical weapons should not go unnoticed in history. The victims need to be recognized and the guilty parties should be judged by history.
Even tough the debate over the “Rif war” and Spain’s crimes during its imperial quest in Morocco has several angles so sharp that few politicians dare to tackle, contemporary Spanish politicians and human rights activists have a historical and a moral obligation to face up to the role of Spain as an entity in the massacres of unarmed civilians and the consequences of the use of chemical weaponry.
The 2005 attempt by a Catalan left wing political party to open a parliamentarian debate in the Cortez over the events surrounding the use of chemical weapons by the Spanish army in northern Morocco was unsuccessful. Under the “border line Fascist” government of Aznarito, such debate and admittance of any wrong doing was out of the question. Conversely, the current Zapatero government may be the perfect candidate to address the wrongs done by Spain to the Moroccans of the North.  
Politics aside, the people of the Rif in particular and Moroccans that suffered under the Spanish colonial rule in general are due an official explanation and a State apology from the government of Spain. The Moroccan-Spanish diplomatic, economical and political relations are strong enough to withstand such traumatic historical review. It is a matter of human rights and common decency to give the victims of such tragic events an overdue apology and the recognition they deserve.

0 #16 Emir Abdelkarim Alkhatabi 2009-06-30 06:37
Emir Abdelkarim Alkhatabi is the MAN! We are missing quinessential leaders like him especially at this time. May ALLAH bless him and may he rest in peace.

Amine Guennoun--
0 #15 LondonYasid 2009-06-12 06:45
Our problem is not Spain,first it was Gaddafi until America (Regan) tought him a lesson. And now it's the corrupt generals in Algeria. If arabs were united, Spain will have given up on Sebta and mlelia long time ago without a single bullet fired by Moroccan army.
0 #14 the 'we can do' generationdalouh 2009-06-06 21:23
I do agree with ash-lah's comment...
we moroccans should be the ones who need to dig and confront our past, before we ask the same from the spaniards.
the day that spain will face its past crimes will come I have no doubt about it, and until then we should ask the right questions and try to learn from our history .
abdelkrim was not just a warrior, he was a statesman who had a vision of an independent,mod ern and democratic morocco, he inspired his fellow tribesmen in rif and jebala to believe they can achieve those goals.
his followers were poor, uneducated and many never seen a city before in his life, but they believed they [can do] all those things that their leader have dreamed of,they didn't have the inferiority complex of today's impotent , corrupt elites.....and didn't ask permission from no body....we need to learn the lessons of our brave ancestors , the freemen .

this is a link to a youtube video documentary about abdelkrim and the rif war, an aljazeera documentary of 50 minutes, it was aired on the 6-1-09
0 #13 Free Morocco, Evict the Spaniards AmineG 2009-06-02 20:25
Apparently, we still owe it to our selves, to our families, and to our ancestors combined to reclaim all of our territories which were pilfered from us a while back by the Spanish thugs. I am confident that Moroccans from across the globe would volunteer to defend our country and punish the aggressors who have no business of meddling around South of the Mediterranean.

Amine Guennoun

0 #12 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Chemical Weapons Were Used By Spanish Army Against Civilians in Northern MoroccoSakkaki 2009-05-28 14:05
just l Spanish policeman hits a Moroccan woman at the border between Morocco and Ceuta, January 31, 2008. Two women died during an avalanche at the border cross of Biutz on Monday. Picture taken January 31, 2008.

We should have our cities's about the time Spain should get the hell out of our country..I don't understand how Spain and Morocco have decided to establish a bilateral relationship; still, Spain is occupying our lands....Politi cs , I guess: Sahara??????????????????

We will liberate ceuta and mellelia and we will claim the Canaries islands as well..


Abderrahmane Sakkaki
0 #11 NefssGermelou 2009-05-27 05:27
This is one of the darkest points in Morocco's history. Keeping silent and not asking for serious reparations from Spain and Nazi style persecution of any francist who order or participated in the dissemination of douzens of thousands of people using chemical weapons is borderline criminal and unconscionable on our part. Generations of people are still suffering from birth defects and cancer because of Spain barbaric and horrific actions that remain unadvertised to the rest of the world.

While the importance of keeping good relations with Spain is understood, seeing the Sahara issue being used to keep us mute is crazy. The government of Morocco needs to understand that the price it is putting on the lives of its people is directly positively correlated with its stand and rank within the nations of the world.

All need to endeavor to end Spain's attempts to keep this sad episode undercover until all survivors have passed away. None of us true Moroccans will ever forget. Spain will have to pay up and issue formal apology for its criminal Nazi past.
0 #10 Who cares...Khalid29 2009-05-18 16:49
A war is a war who cares if it was fair or not and there is no such a thing as war crime, cause the war itself IS a crime...what I think is more serious as far as our relationship with spain throughout the history is how the moors were expelled from the iberian peninsula eventhough it seems old but if you look at it and how barbaric it was it deserves some apologies from spain.
0 #9 MissSalmaUSA 2009-05-12 10:31
What about Moroccan human Right Groups taking Spain to International Criminal court!
0 #8 ZabataIlot 2009-05-12 03:37
Salam ALL,
What about moroccans who contribute to de defeat Of 'Marshal Or Genral Or Amir' Abdelkrim, and what was the role of the Nationalist then? The Arab(Amzigh or Muslim) is only an ennemy of himself!
What we are waiting for?
LAMIRI Mustapha
0 #7 Serious error LAMIRI Mustapha 2009-05-12 00:14
Spain, old colonial power Western made a serious error by using chemical weapons against the civil innocent ones of Rif in the Thirties of the twentieth century. To rectify this situation, Spain must At least admit in front of everyone that the Sahara Moroccan of yesterday (Before colonization in 1884 by it even) is Moroccan today and to give to Morocco all the documents concerning this subject.
Bourass lkbir
0 #6 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Chemical Weapons Were Used By Spanish Army Against Civilians in Northern MoroccoBourass lkbir 2009-05-09 13:53
Every country paid the price high for democracy. USA had the civil war, spain the same thing. France had a bloody revolution.
What did we get? Nothing. All Arabs are scared and a few remain in power preventing any evolution. As long as we are scared, we remain as is. So silence please.
0 #5 Open a greater DebatNabilino 2009-05-09 06:45
I would rather leave the Rifi victims rest in Peace as they martyred for the faith, and see our Gov't and activists here in the US stir up the debate about Sebta and Meliliya.

We rather serve the live than the dead. If we call ourselves Free Moroccan's, we ought to stand up to our land and not let any cm go to occupation.

Dear Morocco Board, please ease a way for us Moroccans here in the US to contact DC politicians to pressure the Spanish Gov't to abandon our land and leave without ever coming back.
0 #4 Self respect firstash-lah 2009-05-08 06:22
Emir Abdelkarim Alkhatabi is one of the few of Morocco's founding fathers, who are intentionally marginalized, ignored and disrespected. A great part of Morocco's History is kept out of the spotlight and disrespected for reasons that only God knows. How many Moroccans know that Abdelkarim Alkhatabi was a lawyer and an intellectual, who studied in Spain before organizing the revolution that brought Spain to it knees?
Our youth are deeply in need of Historical figures and role models to rebuild their confidence in Moroccan, to show them that sacrifice, dignity and pride is not something they can learn by watching translated Mexican sitcoms but a trait ingrained in every FREE Moroccan .
The Moroccan Gov It seems, is afraid of it past, it exercises every effort to marginalize the Emir and his likes.
A Wise man once said "people will continue to disrespect you for as long as you allow them to do so." Our Moroccan literature and tradition are full of proverbs that mentions the importance of respecting oneself in order to gain the respect of others. So, before we ask Spain to recognize it atrocities and genocides in Morocco, we need to Honour our Heroes first.
0 #3 TrueDaoud 2009-05-07 21:44
Spain is the only European country with an enclave in Africa. Why is this accepted? Will the European humiliation of non-Europeans ever stop? I think the Spaniards are worse in their ego disease than most other Europeans. They see themselves as more Catholic than the Pope, because they are trying to cover their Arab origins. Maybe that can explain their mental challenge?
0 #2 Spanish denial continues unabated boras 2009-05-07 21:08
Spain has a habit of living in denial. Denial of its use of illegal chemical weapons against unarmed Moroccan civilians, denial of 700 years of Moorish history which to this day they refuse to teach in any depth in their school curriculum. What country denies 700 years of its very own history?! A history which most historians regard as the pinnacle of Iberian civilisation. The fact remains that many people in Spain are still brain washed and conditioned by the continual negative propaganda propagated by their media about the dangers of the Moors. Until they address these distortions in reality and in their history relations between the two countries will remain edgy. As hmimarad correctly pointed out Spain's support of the polisario is largely driven by realpolitik i.e. maintain good relations with Algeria to maintain a constant uninterruptable supply of algerian gas.
0 #1 COMMENT_TITLE_R E Chemical Weapons Were Used By Spanish Army Against Civilians in Northern Moroccohmimarmad 2009-05-07 11:50
Spain is now using Morocco to be their watchdog against African Immigrants, Zapatero Sent his King to Ceuta and Melilia to provoke Morocco on the Moroccan throne day, Spain is handing out citizenship to Moroccan Government officials. Spain is chasing Moroccans and kicking them out of Spain. Spain is handing Morocco their so called terrorists. Spain is not clear in regard to the Sahara, the Spanish population sees Moroccans are a big problem and that they are good for Nothing. Spain sympathize with Algeria because the cheaper oil they get via Morocco.

I do not see what Morocco is gaining in return, If someone knows, please tell us.

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