Moroccan diplomats #13 : Abdelkader Ach’ach, an ambassador who fell into disfavor

Sent by Alaouite Sultan Moulay Abderrahmane to the court of King Louis-Philippe I of France, Abdelkader Ach’ach’s diplomatic mission to Paris affected Tetouan’s most powerful family.

An old photo of the city of Tetouan./Ph. DR
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In December 1845, Alaouite Sultan Moulay Abderrahmane ibn Hisham sent Tetouan’s powerful Pasha Abdelkader Ach’ach, as an ambassador to King Louis Philippe I’s court in Paris.

The diplomat was appointed as Morocco’s envoy to France to better diplomatic relations between the Kingdom and the European country, during a very particular moment.

During the 19th century, the city of Oujda was attacked by the French forces. The battle was called «Isly» and was fought in August, 1844 between France and Morocco, near the Isly River.

The battle was a turning point in Morocco and France’s diplomatic relations and the sultan knew that Paris would interfere in the Kingdom’s internal affairs after its Algeria conquest.

Sending the Pasha of Tetouan

In order to determine the hidden intentions of Louis Philippe I, Moulay Abderrahmane chose one of his most loyal men. He appointed the Pasha of Tetouan, El Haj Abdelkader Bnu Mohammed Ach’ach. The 35-year-old man was the son of a former Pasha and it is said that he belongs to an Andalusian family, that escaped Spain in the 15th century.

«He was one of the most famous pashas in Tetouan during the 19th century and promised to pay for the expenses of the diplomatic mission from his own money», wrote the Abdelmalek Essaadi university in an article published on its Facebook page.

In his book «Une ambassade marocaine chez Louis-Philippe : Rihlah Al Faqih Assafar Ila Bariz» (Eddif, 2002), Mohammed Saffar who was part of the delegation led by Ach’ach, described the diplomat as «a rich man» who was generous with his guests.

«L'Univers israélite : Journal des principes conservateurs du judaïsme», describes Ach’ach as a «courageous and educated man with good manners and a spirit of justice and tolerance». The same source, reported that he came from a distinguished family that was known for protecting the Jews of Tetouan for several decades.

On the 14th of December, 1845, Ach’ach’s mission left Tetouan on «le Météore», a French ship sent by the French authorities. Five days later, he arrived in Marseilles. 

On December the 29th, the Moroccan delegation, arrived in Paris and stayed at Hotel des Ambassadeurs at the Champs-Elyséés avenue, said Mohammed Saffar is his book on the voyage.

«The Caid ambassador was the guest of honor everywhere, there were songs written exclusively for him», added the archivist.

An imprisoned diplomat

On December the 30th, Caid Abdelkader Ach’ach was granted an audience with the French King at the Tuileries Palace to deliver Moulay Abderrahmane’s letter.

On February 27th, 1846, the ambassador returned to Tetouan to join his position as a Pasha for the city. In 1850, Abdelkader Ach’ach and his assistant Mohammed Saffar, headed to the palace of Fez to deliver presents sent by the French court to the royal family.

According to French intelligence services’ documents, once in the palace, Abdelkader Ach’ach was imprisoned, alongside his brothers and relatives and his properties were confiscated.

Subsequently, Abdelkader Ach'ach became a mere official of the Makhzen until his death in Meknes in 1866.

The university of Abdelmalek Essaadi had a different version of the story, stating that «Haj Abdelkader Ach’ach was appointed in 1862 by Mohammed IV as a Pasha for Tetouan again but was sacked again in 1864 and transferred to Meknes where he died».

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