The future of Morocco was not an issue which suddenly began to agitate international politics at the beginning of the twentieth century, as a sort of left-over of imperialism belatedly brought to mind. ‘We are living… on the crater of a Volcano’ was neither a new, nor untypical view of the situation as seen from Tangier in 1881. Britain had already made an attempt to regenerate the ‘sick man of the West’, before he could cause as many complications as the fellow Muslim invalid to the East, by taking the initiative which led to the Madrid Conference respecting the right of Protection of Moorish Subjects in 1880. But this was not a success. Nor did the attempts which followed to persuade the so-called Shereefian Empire, in its vital strategic position at the entrance to the Mediterranean, to provide itself with the revenue, tools and incentive necessary for reform by the conclusion of a liberal commercial treaty, gain their objective. France also was concerned with Morocco, and the Algerian military point of view, which stressed the security danger of allowing any other power to establish preponderant influence there, was gradually gaining ground. One French minister at Tangier, Ordega, had gone as far as to try and present his government in 1884 with the fait accompli of a revolution in Morocco, with a French protégé on the Moorish throne. But the Paris authorities were not willing, or at this stage even able, to sanction such a forward policy. Spain was the power which, at official level, had long considered it had the right of reversion to the Moorish heritage. But internal weakness precluded direct action, and Spanish governments were reduced to other approaches. The negative one, associated with the conservative statesman Cánovas del Castillo, stressed the need to ‘prolong the dying agony of Morocco’, until Spain had recovered sufficiently to claim her rights. Others, however, argued for a more active policy, and they had an opportunity in the ‘Liberal’; ministries of the 1880's. It is in this context that the activity of Segismundo Moret, Minister of State from November 1885, was of relevance in bringing Morocco further into the international arena.