Leader El Mizzian
الشريف محمد امزيان
Mohammed Ameziane or Sherif Mohammed Ameziane or El Mizzian (Berber language: ⴰⵎⵖⴰⵔ ⵎⵓⵃⴰⵏⴷ ⴰⵎⵥⵢⴰⵏ Amɣar Muḥand Ameẓyan) was a leader of the Moroccan Riffian resistance against the Spanish occupation of Northern Morocco in northeastern Morocco. His operations and wars took place in the Eastern Rif region especially in the current Nador province and the region of Seřwan.
One of his sons, Mohamed Meziane, would become a renowned military leader both in Spain and in Morocco.
His full name was Mohamed Ben Lhaj Mohamed Ben Hado Ben Ahmed Ben Abdessalam Ben Saleh, the founder of the zawiya of Azghenghan. He was known as Cherif Sidi Mohamed (Mohand) Amezian. His family created the Zawiya Al Qadiria, which is also known by the Zawiya of Sidi Ahmed o Abdsalam in Zeghanghane and lies within the sphere of Ait Bouifrour, one of the fifth branches which constitutes the Qaliat tribe.
Most references mention that he was born in 1859, others say 1860, these two years date back to the Tetouan war which witnessed the victory of Spain over Morocco. He took the Qur'an by heart in the Zawia which was led by his father in Zeghanghane, between 1887 and 1891 he joined Al-Qaraouiyin mosque in Fes to pursue his studies. After accomplishing his education he returned to his birthplace, Zeghanghane, where he didn’t confine himself in the Zawia waiting for gifts and charities, he rather practiced trade by transporting goods cows and beasts between the Rif and Algeria.
Confrontation with Jilali Zerhouni Bohmara
Mohand Amezian was one of the first who paid attention to the conspiracy between Bou hmara and the foreigners against the interests of the Rif. He determined to unmask him and launched campaigns against him among Riffian tribes. Bou hmara tried to arrest him in the early 1907, but he managed to escape and took refuge in the Moroccan army whose base was near Melilla.
He fought with its soldiers when they attempted to outflank the rebellion of Bou hmara in the eastern region. However, the huge potentials under the disposal of Bou hmara and his team helped in defeating the weaker Makhzen in 1907, then the rest of the army including Cherif Mohamed Amezian took refuge in Melilla in the beginning of 1908.
During the domination of Bou hmara over the eastern Rif he authorized two companies, a Spanish and a French one, to exploit the iron and lead mines in Bouifror and build two railway lines between the mines and Melilia. But after the crushing defeat inflicted on Bou hmara by the Ait Waryaghel tribe he returned to the east bearing the bitterness of subjugation just to find out that the eastern Riffian tribes had anonymously chosen Cherif Mohamed Amezian as their leader in October 1908, they hindered railway projects and the exploitation of mines. Under these conditions Bou hmara withdraw from Selouane in the end of 1908.
Resistance against Spain
Spain took advantage of Bou hmara’s rebellion in addition to the anarchy that prevailed in eastern region and the enemity which existed between the Riffian tribes. During February and March 1909 it managed to occupy Kariat Arekmane and Ras El Ma, then it resumed the building of the railway and the exploitation of the mines. It also benefited from the growing influence of its allies in the region, and poured money on them besides providing them with the newest artilleries, they used to support Spanish incursions openly and even tried to convince notables and tribes of the advantages of the Spanish incursions.
Whereas Amezian opposed ardently the Spanish invasion and refused all offers and lures given by general José Marina, the military governor of melilia. After meeting raffian tribes with whom he held meetings during which he was accompanied by Alfeqih Mohamed Hado Alazouzi and tackled the resistance issue. Then Cherif Mohamed Amezian had to wait until the end of the agricultural season when peasants gather their crops and seasonal immigrants return from Algeria so as to express his opposition militarily by attacking Sidi Mosa on 9 July 1909, thus, he put an end to the vibration of opinions and the hesitation which he began to perceive within the tribes.
Spain lost in this war a colonel, a lieutenant, two first lieutenant, a captain and more than 40 soldiers in addition to 234 wounded soldiers from different ranks. After that Spain reinforced its forces with troops exceeding 46 000 of the cream of its soldiers and officers strengthened by the newest artilleries under the leadership of the famous general Buentos who will be defeated later on 27 July 1909 in the battle of " Aghazar n Ouchen" 4 km away from Melilia where the general died along with more than 700 soldiers from different ranks.
This defeat didn't deter the Spanish army which attacked with more than 40,000 soldiers under the leadership of three generals (Alfaro, Tobar and Miralis), but they met another defeat on 20 September 1909 in Ijdyawen, the territory of ait chigar tribe, the Spanish troops couldn't stand in the way of the strong will and determination of Imjahden "warriors" under the leadership of Mohamed Amezian.
The organization of the Riffian resistance in this period was marked by a great precession, each of the ruffian tribes devoted a number of its men to stand by permanently in the stronghold of Imjahden. Each tribe was free to organize, substitute its men and provide munitions. The men in the stronghold used to light up fires at night once they perceive the omens of hostile attacks, whoever sees that sign lights up another fire so that all tribes will be aware of whats going on that night and rush into the battle to join imjahden’s front lines.
Change in Spanish military strategy
Spain learned from its defeats in the autumn and summer of 1909, and waited until the end of the ploughing season to change its military strategy in which the focus was on peaceful penetration targeting weaker tribes nearby Melilia and pouring money and trade privileges on them. Thus, Spain moved to a dangerous step when it intensified the recruitments of the locals so as to benefit from their gun experiences and their accurate knowledge of the topography of the region.
They played the role of a human shields in the front lines of the Spanish troops. This led to the disheartening of many Ruffian imjahden from central Rif, especially the Ait waryaghels, who left their strongholds accusing the tribe of Aqqliat of treachery.
Moreover, the influence exerted by the agents of Spain within the tribes was detrimental to ruffian resistance, they used to play the role of spies providing Spanish intelligence with information and implementing its plans which aims to stir disagreements and clashes between imjahden and their families, and also between the recruited in the Spanish army.
Who ever stands in their way was exposing himself to death penalty. Many inhabitants were compelled to be recruited in the Spanish army which provided uniform and guns which stands for power and self-protection. As a result, Spain occupied Bouarek plain and the region between Azghenghen and Elhociema, in addition to Nador and Selouan. Nevertheless, Imjahden were able to inflict many defeats on the Spanish army (for example: Dahar Ambochanof between Selouan and Waxan).
Under these conditions Mohamed Ameziane retreated to Aitbouifrour and establishes a new stronghold in Souq Aljouma (Friday market) in Amaworo. Confrontations abated since late 1909 to 1911, during these two years Mohamed Ameziane kept refusing all offers and lures given by Spain which was convinced that the way to colonize the Rif leads to the attraction of Mohammed Ameziane.
And after he refused huge sums of money in parallel with the beginning of negotiation concerning the protectorate, he was suggested to be the representative of Spain in front of the Moroccan Sultan. But he opposed.
Final battles and death
Confrontations between riffian resistance and Spanish forces renewed when the resistance raided on a group of soldiers which escorted a Spanish topographic expedition. The most important battles took place in the surroundings of Kert river in which resistance inflicted huge human loss and material damages on the Spanish army.
After September 1911 general Ardonit was killed in the battles of Imarofen and Izhafen in Ait Bouifrour. Sporadic clashes continued until 14 May 1912 when Spain targeted the occupation of Azib Allal o Qador, in this operation spies watched the movement of Amezian and 700 Imjahden towards Bani Sidal tribe, they followed his steps until he stopped in Tawrirt Kdiya’s mosque, then Spanish forces were informed and rushed to besiege him.
When Mohamed Amezian was aware of that he prayed Alfajer and gave the choice to his companions; either to fight and die as martyrs or withdraw, then he started with the remaining companions shooting the enemy after the Recolaris forces within the Spanish troops refused the appeal to join imjahden. He was killed by a bullet in a place near Kdiyat Hamed on the road which takes to Faydd Ahmam which is also called Fedan Alhayyan.
The Spanish transported his corpse to Melilia then he was handed to his brothers to be buried in the cemetery of his grandfather Cherif Ahmed Ben Abdessalam in Azghenghen..