Current Affairs: Agadir and Nicosia

In a general sense I suppose most reasonably well educated people have some idea of the causes for the First World War. Most folk, and most popular histories, will have some sense of the coalitions of the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, and how these alliances played out following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a provincial backwater in the summer of 1914. The more advanced books, and those with a little more knowledge, probably know about the First and Second Balklan Wars that immediately preceded the Great War. I do think however relatively few people know why Agadir was important in that process. Given everything that came after, it is easy to overlook Agadir and the role Morocco played in the run-up to World War One.

Morocco was the unlikely ground for competition between Germany and France. Following the Tangier Crisis of 1905/6 a settlement between the powers had been agreed – a settlement that France broke (for various reasons) in 1911. Germany sent a gunboat to the port of Agadir to make its case, and the Second Moroccon Crisis ensued. The two crises over Morocco were instrumental in the deepening the split between Britain and Germany, and thereby helped to ensure Britain sided with France as it did in the summer of 1914. To say that Agadir caused World War One is fairly ridiculous – but one can say that Agadir contributed to the circumstances which, in the summer of 1914, led to war.

There is some real doubt right now as to what is going to happen to Cyprus, and what it might mean. The threat of imposing a levy on deposits has created an atmosphere of some real fear – it smells like a panic measure. More worryingly is the apparent disconnection between Eurozone Finance Ministers and the effects of what they proposed last weekend. I have no idea if the Eurozone is going to unravel, or not. The risk has, I think, gotten greater.

If the Euro does collapse however I do wonder if, in a hundred years’ time, this week’s events in Cyprus will be as easily overlooked as what happened in Morocco just over a hundred years ago.

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