The First Moroccan Crisis (also known as the Tangier Crisis) was an international crisis between March 1905 and May 1906 over the status of Morocco. Germany attempted to use the issue of Morocco's independence to increase frictions between France and the United Kingdom, as well as to advance German commercial interests in Morocco. They succeeded in their stated goal of assuring Moroccan independence, but failed to attract diplomatic support for their positions at the resulting international conference. The crisis worsened German relations with both France and the United Kingdom, and helped ensure the success of the new Anglo-French Entente Cordiale. It has been named as one of the Causes of World War I.
On March 31, 1905, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany landed at Tangier, Morocco and conferred with representatives of Sultan Abdelaziz of Morocco The Kaiser declared he had come to support the sovereignty of the Sultan—a statement which amounted to a provocative challenge to French influence in Morocco. The Sultan subsequently rejected a set of French-proposed governmental reforms and issued invitations to major world powers to a conference which would advise him on necessary reforms.
French Reaction; Mobilization for War
Germany sought a multilateral conference where the French could be called to account before other European powers. The French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, took a defiant line, holding that there was no need for such a conference. Count Bernhard von Bülow, the German Chancellor, threatened war over the issue. The crisis peaked in mid-June. The French cancelled all military leave (June 15) and Germany threatened to sign a defensive alliance with the Sultan (June 22). French Premier Maurice Rouvier refused to risk war with Germany over the issue. Delcassé resigned, as the French government would no longer support his policy. On July 1, France agreed to attend the conference.
The crisis continued to the eve of the conference at Algeciras, with Germany calling up reserve units (December 30) and France moving troops to the German border (January 3).
The Algeciras Conference
The Algeciras Conference was called to settle the dispute, lasting from January 16 to April 7, 1906. Of the 13 nations present, the German representatives found that their only supporter was Austria-Hungary. A German attempt at compromise was rejected by all but Austria-Hungary. France had firm support from Britain, Russia, Italy, Spain, and the United States. The Germans decided to accept a face-saving compromise agreement on March 31, 1906 that was signed on May 31, 1906. France agreed to yield control of the Moroccan police, but otherwise retained effective control of Moroccan political and financial affairs.
The First Moroccan Crisis also showed that the Entente Cordiale was strong, as Britain had defended France in the crisis. The crisis can be seen as a reason for the Anglo-Russian Entente being signed the following year since both countries backed France. Kaiser Wilhelm II was angry at being humiliated and was determined not to back down again, which led to the German involvement in the Second Moroccan Crisis.
Esthus, Raymond A. Theodore Roosevelt and the International Rivalries (1970) pp 66–111.
Gifford, Prosser, and Alison Smith, eds. Britain and Germany in Africa: imperial rivalry and colonial rule (1967) ch 7