The republic was a military and political association of tribes living in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. The supreme legislative and executive powers were exercised by the National Assembly, which was headed by the president, or emir, Abd al-Karim. The republic had a five-member government. The local administrative unit was a tribe headed by a kaid and a community council, or jamaah. The kaids were subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Council for Tribal Affairs.
The revenue from special taxes, for example a poll tax and a tax on personal income, was used for the needs of the army. For a long time the Rif Republic successfully fought off Spanish and French troops, defeating them repeatedly. The republic fell on May 27, 1926, under the united onslaught of the Spanish and French armies.
The Rif has been inhabited by the Rifains since prehistoric times. As early as the 11th century BC, the Phoenicians and Carthaginians began to establish trading posts on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, and founded cities such as Tetouan, Melilla and, in 5th century BC, Tangier. After the Third Punic War, Carthage was supplanted by Rome, and the Rif became part of the province of Mauretania. When the latter was divided during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Tangier became the capital of Mauretania Tingitana. In the 5th century AD, the region was raided by the Vandals, and Roman rule came to an end. The region remained under Vandal control until the 6th century AD when the Byzantines reconquered parts of it.
In 710, Salih I ibn Mansur founded the Kingdom of Nekor in the Rif and converted most Berbers to Islam. Arabs then established more cities. By the 15th century, many Spanish Moors were exiled from Spain and most of them lived in the Rif, bringing their culture, Andalusian music, and even establishing Chefchaouen. Since then, the Rif had suffered a lot of battles between Morocco, Spain and Portugal. In 1415, Portugal invaded Ceuta, and in 1490 Spain invaded Melilla. There was period of peace after, but war between Spain and Morocco arose again in 1859 in Tetouan where Morocco was defeated. The Spanish-Moroccan conflicts didn’t end. In the 20th century, under the leadership of Abd el-Krim El-Khattabi, the Moroccan guerrilla leader, The Riffians struggled against Spanish rule and aimed to free Morocco from French and Spanish colonization. Abd el-Krim later established the Republic of the Rif in 1921 which lasted until 1926, reinstating the Spanish protectorate. The region was returned to Morocco after its independence in 1956.
During the reign of Hassan II, stage known as the Years of Lead (in Morocco) Rif people was too repressed while sidelined. Because it is known for the existence of certain political organizations that demanded from a development for the area until the separation of the territory of Morocco.
In 1958-1959 a revolt broke out in the Rif was an uprising in the North African Rif region choked with aerial bombing in the region with napalm, white phosphorous and cluster bombs carried out by an embryonic Moroccan army, led by French officers and the head of which (and overseeing operations) was the then Crown Prince Moulay Hassan (the future Hassan II). The crackdown left a balance of several thousand dead Rif.