Moha ou Said

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Moha ou Said l'Irraoui
Died March 1924
Years of service 1914–1924

Moha ou Said l'Irraoui (died March 1924) was a Moroccan tribal leader who opposed French rule of the protectorate of Morocco. He formerly served as a caïd of the Moroccan sultans and fought for Sultan Abdelaziz against rebels in 1902. After Treaty of Fez and the start of the French protectorate he opposed the French through military action. He participated in several battles with French forces in the Zaian War but was eventually forced into the High Atlas mountains where he died in action in 1924. His followers continued to resist the French over the next ten years.

Early life[edit]

Said served as a caïd (a local governor with almost absolute power) for the Moroccan sultan, with responsibility for the Aït Seri Berber tribe, though he was also associated with Aït Roboas tribe.[1][2] He held Kasbah Tadla as his provincial capital.[3] In 1902 he served in the army of Sultan Abdelaziz which fought against a pretender based at Taza.[4][5][6]

Opposition to French rule[edit]

Said was described by the French as an "influential war chief" and was held in good standing by tribesmen across the Middle Atlas region .[7][4] Together with Mouha ou Hammou Zayani, leader of the Zaian confederation and Ali Amhaouch, a Darqawa Islam religious leader, he formed the so-called "Berber trinity" which opposed French rule in the Middle Atlas through military action.[8][9] Said was initially open to a negotiated settlement with the French authorities but pressure from pro-war chiefs and the fear of ridicule from his tribesmen had forced his hand.[4][10][11]

In February 1914 Said attacked a French post established by Colonel Gueydon at Oued Zem, 25 miles (40 km) north-west of Kasbah Tadla. His attacks upon the post and its supply convoys led to Oued Zem becoming a focus of Moroccan resistance across the Middle Atlas.[7] The French, led General Charles Mangin, managed to restore control locally but negotiations between Said and Colonel Henri Simon did not bring peace.[7][12] Mangin attacked Said's camp at El Ksiba and, though the Berber's suffered heavy casualties, Said bloodied the French, inflicting losses of 60 men killed and 150 wounded and captiuring much of their equipment.[12]

Zaian War[edit]

The French, under Resident-General Hubert Lyautey, launched the Zaian War in the Middle Atlas in mid-1914 against the Zaian Confederation of tribes. Early French gains were slowed by Hammou's victory at the Battle of El Herri, support from the Central Powers and greater co-operation between Said, Hammou and Amahouch.[13] Said's troops, numbering up to 5,000 tribesmen, engaged General Noël Garnier-Duplessix' men at Sidi Sliman, near to Kasbah Tadla, in May 1915 but were heavily defeated, losing 300 killed and 400 wounded in exchange for three French dead and five wounded.[14]<[15] This victory was a major setback for Said, leading to his withdrawal further into the mountains and a six-month period of relative peace.[14] He continued to fiercely resist the French and was helped by German military supplies, of which his troops received the most of all the tribes in Morocco.[16]

Further Berber resistance continued through the course of the First World War, despite the death of Amhaouch in 1918, and the French found themselves still heavily opposed by the signing of the Armistice with Germany in November 1918.[17] The Zaian war was eventually brought to a close in 1921 following the death of Hammou and the submission of the remaining Zaian Confederation members however said continued his resistance, fleeing first to the Moulouya Valley and then to the highest mountains of the High Atlas after his defeat at the Battle of El Ksiba in April 1922 by General Joseph-François Poeymirau and Colonel Henry Freydenberg.[18][19][20] He remained there with elements of the Aït Ichkern tribe until his death in action against French troops in March 1924.[20][21] Said's followers continued their fight against the French until the final pacification of Morocco in 1934.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Usborne 1936, p. 203.
  2. ^ Windrow 2010, p. 652.
  3. ^ Porch 1987, p. 283.
  4. ^ a b c Hoisington 1995, p. 59.
  5. ^ Singer & Langdon 2004, p. 196.
  6. ^ Bidwell 1973, p. 75.
  7. ^ a b c Windrow 2010, p. 409.
  8. ^ Hoisington 1995, p. 63.
  9. ^ Fage, Roberts & Oliver 1986, p. 290.
  10. ^ Singer & Langdon 2004, p. 197.
  11. ^ Bidwell 1973, p. 34.
  12. ^ a b Bimberg 1999, p. 8.
  13. ^ Hoisington 1995, p. 80.
  14. ^ a b Hoisington 1995, p. 82.
  15. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 941.
  16. ^ Burke 1975, p. 448.
  17. ^ Hoisington 1995, p. 85.
  18. ^ Hoisington 1995, p. 90.
  19. ^ Windrow 2010, p. 466.
  20. ^ a b Hoisington 1995, p. 92.
  21. ^ a b Bimberg 1999, p. 14.
  22. ^ Bidwell 1973, p. 77.