Hassan II

King of Morocco

Hassan II, king of MOROCCO from 1961 until his death, was credited with preserving the Moroccan monarchy. During his reign he introduced a number of democratic reforms and tried to build closer ties with the United States and other Western countries.

Educated in both Arabic and French, Hassan studied law at the University of Bordeaux in France. He was appointed head of Morocco's Royal Armed Forces in 1955 and prime minister in 1960. The following year, on the death of his father, MUHAMMAD V, he became king. Hassan tried to overcome opposition to his authority by issuing a new constitution and extending voting rights to all Moroccans in 1962.

Hassan II

Following another wave of opposition, he dismissed the parliament in 1965 and maintained military rule for five years. At the end of that period, he restored limited democratic government under a new constitution. In the early 1970s, the king introduced economic policies to encourage agricultural improvements, such as new irrigation systems, and small- and medium-sized industries.

In international affairs Hassan defended Morocco's claim to WESTERN SAHARA, which was disputed by ALGERIA. He also maintained open relations with Israel and supported the actions of United Nations troops against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991). Hassan's position on Israel helped strengthen Morocco's ties with the West and made him a valuable participant in efforts to bring about peace between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East. He was succeeded by his son, Muhammad VI. (See also Arabs in Africa, North Africa: History and Cultures.)