Rif Republic

Confederal Republic of the Tribes of the Rif

ⵜⴰⴳⴷⵓⴷⴰ ⵏ ⴰⵔⵔⵉⴼ: Tagduda n Arrif
Flag of Republic of the Rif
Coat of arms
Territory of Spanish Morocco under control of the Rif Republic (outlined in red)[citation needed]
Territory of Spanish Morocco under control of the Rif Republic (outlined in red)[citation needed]
Common languagesRiffian Berber
• 1921–1926
Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi
• 1923–1926
Hajj Hatmi
Historical eraInterwar period
• Established
September 18 1921
• Disestablished
May 27 1926
CurrencyRif Republic riffan
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Spanish Morocco
Spanish Morocco
Today part of Morocco

The Republic of the Rif (Berber languages: ⵜⴰⴳⴷⵓⴷⴰ ⵏ ⴰⵔⵔⵉⴼ, Tagduda n Arrif, officially The Confederal Republic of the Tribes of the Rif), also recorded as the Riff, was a short-lived republic in northern Morocco that existed between 1921 and 1926. It was created in September 1921, when the people of the Rif revolted and declared their independence from Spanish occupation as well as from the Moroccan sultan Yusef.[1][2][3]


Its capital city was Ajdir, its currency the Rif Republic's Riffan, its national Independence Day was held on 18 September, and its total population was an estimated 550,000 people. The independence of the Rif was proclaimed on 18 September 1921, with Mohand Abd el-Krim as its president or leader. The Republic of the Rif was formally constituted 1 February 1923, with Abd el-Krim as head of state. Its prime minister, from July 1923 to 27 May 1926, was ben Hajj Hatmi and General Driss Riffi Temsamani was named Basha or Governor of the Rif. It was dissolved by Spanish and French occupation forces on 27 May 1926, after the long and bloody battles of the Rif War in which German-designed chemical weapons were used against the Berber populations by Spanish and French occupation forces.


Despite the Berbers resisting Spanish and French incursions into Morocco, they were unable to consolidate power, and repeatedly returned to ethnic fighting and tribal division. The revolt following the 1912 Treaty of Fez ended in failure because the tribal alliances against French rule disintegrated within months.

A one riffan note. Produced by Captain Charles Gardiner, an English arms smuggler.
Five riffan note. The notes make prominent use of the English language.

Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi, previously a court judge, became the leader of the Berbers in the Rif. Having created a command and power structure, Abd el-Krim defeated the Spanish many times and drove them back to a few coastal outposts. He wanted to create a stable state for the Berbers to shield them from the long years of fighting. Abd el-Krim sent diplomatic representatives to London and Paris to try to establish diplomatic relations with Europe.[citation needed]

In late 1925, the French and Spanish created a joint task force of half a million men supported by tanks and aircraft.[4] From 1923 onwards, the Spanish used German-designed chemical weapons.[5] The Rif Republic collapsed in May 1926, but Rif guerrillas continued to fight until 1927.

See also[]


  1. ^ Day, Richard B.; Gaido, Daniel (2011-11-25). Discovering Imperialism: Social Democracy to World War I. BRILL. p. 549. ISBN 978-9004201569. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  2. ^ Wyrtzen, Jonathan (2016-02-19). Making Morocco: Colonial Intervention and the Politics of Identity. Cornell University Press. p. 183. ISBN 9781501704246. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ Hall, John G.; Publishing, Chelsea House (2002). North Africa. Infobase Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 9780791057469. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  4. ^ Slavin, David H. (Jan 1991), "The French Left and the Rif War, 1924–25: Racism and the Limits of Internationalism", Journal of Contemporary History, 26 (1): 5–32, doi:10.1177/002200949102600101, JSTOR 260628
  5. ^ Rudibert Kunz: "Con ayuda del más dañino de todos los gases" – Der Gaskrieg gegen die Rif-Kabylen in Spanisch-Marokko in: Irmtrud Wojak/Susanne Meinl (eds.): Völkermord und Kriegsverbrechen in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt/Main 2004, pp. 153–191 (here: 169–185).

Coordinates: 35°12′N 3°55′W / 35.200°N 3.917°W / 35.200; -3.917