Ifni & After

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"The Ifni war is no concern of ours," protested Si Abderamane Zyatt, the jovial ex-linotype operator who governs the Moroccan Goulimine area bordering the little coastal enclave. "It is a spontaneous rising of the inhabitants against Spanish oppression."

The governor did not turn his head to look out at the rainswept streets of Goulimine, which were thronged with khaki-clad, black-turbaned members of the irregular Liberation Army force that launched the attack on the Ifni enclave three weeks ago; jeeps and trucks sped past toward the Ifni frontier with loads of food and supplies for the attackers. By a curious coincidence, the governor happens to be a longtime collaborator of the Moroccan Liberation Army, whose most fanatic members, their fight against France won with independence, moved south last year to the borders of the areas still controlled by Spain. Goulimine's mayor, the governor of nearby Tiznit, and most other Moroccan officials around Ifni are former Liberation Army leaders. On the wall of the governor's office was a map of "Greater Morocco" showing not only Ifni but also all of Spanish West Africa and French Mauritania as part of King Mohammed V's realm.

Both at Ifni and in Spanish West Africa farther down the coast, the little war showed signs of spreading last week. The tough, bearded Berbers of the turbulent Ait Ba Amrane had all leaped into the fight. Armed with anything from muzzle-loaders to burp guns, melting away into their scrub-covered crags whenever Spain's pre-World War II Heinkel bombers came over to attack them, they forced the Spanish to evacuate one border outpost after another, until at week's end Spanish troops may have held no more than three of the dozen or so first attacked. One estimate of Spanish dead and missing: 400.

To the south, where armed bands massacred the Spanish lighthouse keeper and his family of six at Cape Bojador and attacked a Spanish army convoy at Al Auin near the western coast of the Spanish Sahara, even tougher tribesmen were reported taking up arms against Madrid's rule. They were the towering, long-haired R'Guibat tribesmen known as the "blue men" because their robes are colored with an indigo dye that rubs off onto their skin. Rich and, until recently, gunrunning, slave-trafficking nomads who hold a virtual monopoly on camel raising in the western Sahara, they hold colonial borders in warlike contempt.

At week's end cautious Generalissimo Franco overruled army demands for an all-out counterattack in Africa, and his Rabat embassy announced that Spain was ready for "friendly talks" about Ifni's future. To make his friendly gesture more emphatic, he dispatched two cruisers and four destroyers to hover off the Moroccan city of Agadir, just north of Ifni.

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