chapter  6
27 Pages

The cAlawi jihad against cAbd al-Qadir, 1845–7

In the period between the Treaty of Tanger and the Treaty of Lalla Maghnia six months later, Mawlay cAbd al-Rahman found himself obliged to also draft new treaties with Spain, Denmark and Sweden. These treaties signalled the sultanate’s steady incorporation into a Mediterranean economic and political system dominated by Europe and its imperial networks. The arrival of the French in Algeria, the growing number of European merchants arriving in Tanger, Essawira and other ports, and the increasing influence of the European consuls on Makhzan policy forced the sultan and Sidi Muhammad to reassess their relationship with the ‘infidel’. As in other Muslim areas, they perceived modern Europe, and in particular its armies, as a model to be emulated and a threat to be averted. The issue was especially pressing after the battle of Isly had dramatically proven cAlawi military inferiority to the French. Reform to tackle the related challenges of quelling domestic unrest and defending the realm was clearly essential. As in earlier eras, the sultan believed that if he had a strong army he would be able to protect the sultanate from infidel incursions and thus also keep domestic rivals, including cAbd al-Qadir, at bay.