The German gunboat SMS Panther was sent to the Moroccan port of Agadir, sparking the Second Moroccan Crisis.
France had emerged from the First Moroccan Crisis of 1906 in a much stronger position than neighbouring Germany, whose Kaiser Wilhelm II sought to develop economic and commercial interests in the country. The two countries formalised their positions in an agreement two years later but, by 1911, the domestic situation in Morocco had declined. In early 1911 the Sultan, Abdelhafid, faced an uprising by native tribes who also attacked French forces stationed in the country.
In response 20,000 French and colonial troops were sent to the city of Fez under the pretext of protecting European residents and their property. This was interpreted by some in Germany as an attempt to extend French control over Morocco, and in response the gunboat SMS Panther was dispatched to the port of Agadir.
While France was unwilling to take military action, the arrival of the German navy raised some concerns in Britain that Germany might seek to establish a naval base. An article in “The Times” newspaper on 20 July further raised public tensions, while David Lloyd George’s Mansion House speech the following day stated that Britain would not tolerate German aggression in Africa.
In the midst of such a hostile atmosphere the situation was eventually resolved through negotiations between the German and French governments. In return for recognising France’s position in Morocco, Germany received territory in the Congo. However, the damage that the naval dimension of the crisis caused to German relations with Britain was irreparable and only deepened the mistrust that was to contribute to the outbreak of the First World War.