1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abd-el-Aziz IV

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ABD-EL-AZIZ IV. (1880- ), sultan of Morocco, son of Sultan Mulai el Hasan III. by a Circassian wife. He was fourteen years of age on his father's death in 1894. By the wise action of Si Ahmad bin Musa, the chamberlain of El Hasan, Abd-el-Aziz's accession to the sultanate was ensured with but little lighting. Si Ahmad became regent and for six years showed himself a capable ruler. On his death in,1900 the regency ended, and Abd-el-Aziz took the reins of government into his own hands, with an Arab from the south, El Menebhi, for his chief adviser. Urged by his Circassian mother, the sultan sought advice and counsel from Europe and endeavoured to act up to it. But disinterested advice was difficult to obtain, and in spite of the unquestionable desire of the young ruler to do the best for the country, wild extravagance both in action and expenditure resulted, leaving the sultan with depleted exchequer and the confidence of his people impaired. His intimacy with foreigners and his imitation of their ways were sufficient to rouse fanaticism and create dissatisfaction. His attempt to reorganize the finances by the systematic levy of taxes was hailed with delight, but the government was not strong enough to carry the measures through, and the money which should have been used to pay the taxes was employed to purchase firearms. Thus the benign intentions of Mulai Abdel-Aziz were interpreted as weakness, and Europeans were accused of having spoiled the sultan and of being desirous of spoiling the country. When British engineers were employed to survey the route for a railway between Mequinez and Fez, this was reported as indicating an absolute sale of the country. The fanaticism of the people was aroused, and a revolt broke out near the Algerian frontier. Such was the condition of things when the news of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904 came as a blow to Abd-el-Aziz, who had relied on England for support and protection against the inroads of France. On the advice of Germany he proposed the assembly of an international conference at Algeciras in 1906 to consult upon methods of reform, the sultan's desire being to ensure a condition of affairs which would leave foreigners with no excuse for interference in the control of the country, and would promote its welfare, which Abd-el-Aziz had earnestly desired from his accession to power. The sultan gave his adherence to the Act of the Algeciras Conference, but the state of anarachy into which Morocco fell during the latter half of 1906 and the beginning of 1907 showed that the young ruler lacked strength sufficient to make his will respected by his turbulent subjects. In May 1907 the southern tribes invited Mulai Hand, an elder brother of Abd-el-Aziz, andviceroy at Marrakesh, to become sultan, and in the following August Hafid was proclaimed sovereign there with all the usual formalities. In the meantime the murder of 'Europeans at Casablanca had led to the occupation of that port by France. In September Abd-el-Aziz arrived at Rabat from Fez and endeavoured to secure the support of the European powers against his brother. From France he accepted the grand cordon of the Legion of Honour, and was later enabled to negotiate a loan. His leaning to Christians aroused further opposition to his rule, and in January 1908 he was declared deposed by the ulema of Fez, who offered the throne to Hafid. After months of inactivity Abd-el-Aziz made an effort to restore his authority, and quitting Rabat in July he marched on Marrakesh. His force, largely owing to treachery, was completely overthrown (August 19th) when near that city, and Abd-el-Aziz fled to Settat within the French lines round Casablanca. In November he came to terms with his brother, and thereafter took up his residence in Tangier as a pensioner of the new sultan. He declared himself more than reconciled to the loss of the throne, and as looking forward to a quiet, peaceful life. (See Morocco, History.)