Before the advent of colonization and the imposition of the protectorate on Morocco, the country was fully sovereign, independent, and united. And the Sahara was under Moroccan sovereignty. During that era there was no entity whatsoever in the Sahara that was separate from Morocco.
The tribes lived in what may be called “Siba” (unrestrained freedom) –something that was perfectly normal in that epoch. The Sultan (Sovereign) of Morocco exercised his power through the appointment of some officials, such Caid (leader) or his personal representatives, such as Sheikh Maouelainin, who was entrusted with the construction of the city of Smara. The Sovereign addressed Dahirs (or, Royal Edicts) to each tribe in the Sahara. In fact, all tribes still have these edicts. One such is the Dahir which was addressed to the Rguibat tribe in 1906, which confirmed the links of allegiance, loyalty, and attachment of all Sahraoui tribes to the glorious Alawite Throne.
There is not a single document or item in existence which actually proves the opposite of this historical reality. This fact will be all the more evident, when we realize that it was indeed the populations of the Sahara which actually founded the Almoravid dynasty, back in antiquity.
Indeed, the existing documents prove that each time a foreign power attempted to penetrate the Sahara or when some national citizens of these powers were taken into captivity, it was the Sultan of Morocco who actually settled the matter with the powers concerned. Negotiations were carried out, through the intermediation of ambassadors, as evidenced by official Moroccan and foreign documents.
Such documents, which are still extant and kept in library holdings in such cities as Rabat, Paris, London, Madrid, Lisbon, and Berlin, perfectly prove this. One need only refer to these documents and consult them to verify the veracity of the fact. These documents confirm the sovereignty that Morocco has always exercised over its Saharan Provinces.
Diplomacy has always been active in this connection and has always seen to it that sovereignty over the entire national territory, from Tangier to Lagouira, is upheld and respected.
Map of the kingdom of Morocco before the protectorate :