On October 16, 1975, the late Hassan II, announced the organization of the largest peaceful protest in history that led to the liberation of the southern provinces of the Kingdom.
This peaceful protest put an end to nearly three quarters of a century of colonialism and bitter occupation of these territories, and it enabled Morocco to complete its territorial integrity. In this connection, the International Court of Justice at the Hague recognized Morocco’s right to its desert; it declared the existence of legal ties of allegiance between the Moroccan throne and the Sahrawi people. Following this ruling, the late Hassan II announced the organization of the Green March to recover Moroccan southern provinces.
The Organization of the Green March by His Majesty late Hassan II was a wise decision to recover the region without resorting to war adventures, which renounced violence and relied on dialog to settle disputes. On November 5, 1975, King Hassan II addressed the Moroccans who had volunteered to participate in the march, saying: “tomorrow, God’s willing, you will penetrate the border. Tomorrow, God’ willing, the Green March will be launched. Tomorrow, God willing, you will step on a part of your territory, touch the sand of your Sahara and kiss the soil of your beloved nation,”.
The number of Moroccans who participated in the Green March reached 350,000 citizens, 10% of whom were women, from all regions of Morocco, in addition to delegations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Sudan, Gabon and Senegal, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. King Hassan II’s choice of the number of Moroccan participants was equal to the number of births in Morocco during that period.
The King had no difficulty to convince Moroccan citizens to go to the Sahara. Indeed, the close relationship between the throne and the people and the love and respect they have for Him raised to the level of a great national duty. No other sovereign could have gathered such a large number of volunteers easily and in record time, unless he had had a high status in the hearts of his people and had great love and respect.
The volunteers in the March were armed with the Qur’an only and had no weapons, confirming its peacefulness. It was launched with a lot of regularity, accuracy and remarkable logistical organization, crossing the borders of the Sahara under different global and regional reactions. However, Spain opposed the March and requested a meeting of the Security Council to confront it. In addition to announcing, through its representative in the Security Council, that the Green March is an armed military encroachment, it moved its naval fleet to Moroccan territorial waters. It has also announced that it has laid mines over large areas of the Sahara.
After the success of the Green March at the popular, regional and global levels, as well as the incursion of Moroccan volunteers into Desert lands, the Spanish were forced to reverse their anti-Moroccan position and seek a solution to the Sahara issue. With respect to the end of the March, when late King Hassan II was asked by the French journalist Eric Laurent about the time when He decided to stop the Green March, He said it happened “at the time when all concerned parties realized that it was better for diplomacy to be present in the Sahara”, as indicated in the book “Memory of a King”. On November 9, 1975, King Hassan II announced the success of the Green March and asked the participants to return to the starting point: Tarfaya.
The achievements of the Green March event, which became a milestone in Morocco’s modern history, include the acceptance of negotiations by Spain and the conclusion of the Madrid Agreement signed on November 14, 1975, an agreement approved by the United Nations General Assembly, according to which Morocco entered Laayoune peacefully. In addition, Spanish administration withdrew from the region on February 26, 1976, two days before the February 28 deadline set by the Madrid Agreement.