Hassan II

Hassan II

Hassan II, 1929-99, king of Morocco (1961-99). Formerly crown prince Moulay Hassan ben Mohammed Alaoui, he ascended the throne on the death (1961) of his father, Muhammad V. A graduate of the Univ. of Bordeaux, Hassan became chief of staff of the Moroccan army in 1957. In 1965 political unrest in Morocco caused him to assume full executive and legislative control, but an abortive coup (July, 1971) led him to yield some of his powers to the Moroccan parliament. King Hassan's monarchy survived a series of attempted coups that same year and throughout the 1970s as he maintained relative stability by suppressing dissent. In 1984 he appointed a coalition government. Internationally, Hassan pursued a neutralist course, aided in attempts at Middle Eastern peace with Israel, and for a long period of time managed to receive aid from both the West and Communist nations. In 1970, after high casualties in 1963, he reached agreement with Algeria over a long-contested border. After 1974 he sought to incorporate the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) into Morocco, challenging first the Spanish, then fighting Algerian-backed guerrilas seeking independence for the region. The king was succeeded by his son Muhammad VI.
King Hassan II (صاحب الجلالة الملك) الحسن الثاني), class. pron. [sâhibu l-jalâlati l-mâliku] (a)l-hasan uth-thânî, dial. (Mar.) [sâhibu l-jalâla el-mâlik] el-hasan ett(s)âni); July 9, 1929July 23, 1999) was King of Morocco from 1961 until his death in 1999. He was the eldest son of Mohammed V, Sultan, then King of Morocco and his wife Lalla Abla bint Tahar.


Youth and education

King Hassan was educated at the Imperial College at Rabat and earned a law degree from the University of Bordeaux.

He was exiled to Corsica by French authorities on 20 August 1953, along with his father Sultan Mohammed V. They were transferred to Madagascar in January 1954. Prince Moulay Hassan acted as his father's political advisor during the exile. Mohammed V and his family returned from exile on 16 November 1955.

Prince Moulay Hassan participated in the February 1956 negotiations for Morocco's independence with his father, who later appointed him Chief of Staff of the newly founded Royal Armed Forces in April 1956. In the unrest of the same year, he led army contingents battling rebels in the mountains of the Rif. Mohammed V changed the title of the Moroccan sovereign from Sultan to King in 1957. Hassan was proclaimed Crown Prince on 19 July 1957, and became King on 3 March 1961, after his father's death.


Hassan's conservative rule, one characterized by a poor human rights record , strengthened the Alaouite dynasty. In Morocco's first constitution of 1963, Hassan II reaffirmed Morocco's choice of a multi-party political system, the only one in the Maghreb. The constitution gave the King large powers he eventually used to strengthen his rule, which provoked strong political protest from the UNFP and the Istiqlal parties that formed the backbone of the opposition. In 1965, Hassan dissolved parliament and ruled directly, although he did not abolish the mechanisms of parliamentary democracy. When elections were eventually held, they were mostly rigged in favor of loyal parties. This caused severe discontent among the opposition, and protest demonstrations and riots challenged the King's rule.

In the early 1970s, King Hassan survived two assassination attempts. The first, in 1971, was organized by General Madbouh and Colonel Ababou and carried out by cadets, during a function at Skhirat, an ocean resort. On August 16, 1972, during a second attempt at a coup d'état, jets from the Royal Moroccan Air Force fired upon the King's Boeing 727 while he was traveling back to Rabat, but failed to bring it down. General Mohamed Oufkir, Morocco's defense minister, was the man behind the coup and was officially declared to have committed suicide after the attack. His body, however, was found with several bullet wounds.

In the Cold War era, Hassan II allied Morocco with the West generally, and with the United States in particular. There were close and continuing ties between Hassan II's government and the CIA, who helped to reorganize Morocco's security forces in 1960. Hassan served as a back channel between the Arab world and Israel, facilitating early negotiations between them. This was made possible due to the presence in Israel of a large Moroccan Jewish community.

During his reign, Morocco recuperated the the Spanish-controlled area of Ifni in 1969, and seized two thirds of Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) through the "Green March" in 1975. The latter issue continues to dominate Moroccan foreign policy to this day. Relations with Algeria have deteriorated sharply due to the Western Sahara affair, as well as due to Moroccan claims on Algerian territory, which unleashed the brief 1963 Sand War.

Economically, Hassan II adopted a market-based economy, where agriculture, tourism, and phosphates mining industries played a major role.

The period from the 1960s to the late '80s was labelled by the Moroccan opposition as the "years of lead" and saw many dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared.

King Hassan II had extended many parliamentary functions by the early '90s and released hundreds of political prisoners in 1991, and allowed the Alternance, where the opposition assumed power, for the first time in the Arab World. He set up a Royal Council for Human Rights to look into allegations of abuse by the state.


King Hassan II had five children with his wife Lalla Latifa Hammou, a member of the Zaiane tribe, whom he married in 1961 :

The king also had one other wife, Lalla Fatima bint Qaid Amhourok. Married also in 1961, they had no children.

The father of Hassan II was Mohammed V of Morocco, his mother was Lalla Abla bint Tahar. King Hassan II had five sisters and one brother:


He died in 1999.

See also

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