The RIF mountains to the north west, though half the size of the High Atlas, have moorland, cedars and pines with a rich wildlife, independent inhabitants retaining styles and customs
peculiar to themselves, and a proud and turbulent history of rebellion against tyranny and foreign invaders.
A local chieftain, Abdel Krim, led a rising in the Rif in 1921 and within a couple of months destroyed a whole Spanish army. With his 120,000-strong army of the newly-formed Rif Republic, he drove the Spaniards back to a few positions on the coast and the following year swerved south into French-held territory battling his way to within 25 kilometres of Fez. It is reckoned quarter-of- a-million troops were pinned down, an example which may have helped King Mohammed V to save thousands of lives when he successfully refused a Vichy French–German order to hand over his Jewish citizens to be shipped to Europe. In time of world war, they could appreciate the threat that awaited them from those fighting men of the Rif. In peace the King was awarded the Companion of Liberation, a sign of recognition by the French people.