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Muslim conquest of North Africa


The Muslim conquest of North Africa west of Egypt began 647 CE, and was completed for the urban zones and all along the coast by 710. It happened through attack wars, and the Muslims established administrative units. The first stages were during the reign of 3rd Caliph Uthman, whereas firm control was secured during the Umayyad calipate.
The motivation for the conquest seem to have been quite normal. With the exception of Tunisia, the territories of North Africa were politically and military weak, while the Muslim army had great military training allowing easy advances, even if Berbers gave the Muslim Arab army strong resistance. Berber strongholds here were smaller and more in number and belonged to villages and local administrations and its elite could more easily relocate to another place when threatened. When the Muslims started to advance into the heartlands of North Africa, corresponding to modern Tunisia, they could play different small kings up against each other, thereby forming effective alliances. They allied with what appears to have been Kasila, the king of Djedar.
Contrary to what happened in Egypt and the Middle East, Islam here quickly replaced Christianity.
The first goal of the Muslims was to obtain tribute in slaves and recruits for the army from Cyrenaica.
The conquest of central Libya happened in the 640's, Tunisia between 670 and 698, Algeria the 680's and Morocco by 710.

History
643: Amr ibn al-As conquers northeastern Libya, then called Barka.
647: Tripolitania is conquered by the Muslims.
— Battle between the Byzantines and the Muslims at Sbeitla (now Tunisia), resulting in short-lived Muslim takeover.
660's: New Muslim attack into Tunisia, from their base at Tripoli. The Berbers are split between the personal interests of many princes.
Around 670: Uqba ibn Nafi establishes Ummayad headquarters in the Afriqiya, thereby founding Kairouan. The location was identical with the Byzantine fortress Kamouinia. The position was ideal, as it gave the Arab Muslims protection from both the sea powers and possibilities to control the mountain Berbers. Kairouan would serve as military centre for advances into the rest of northwest Africa.
Arab conquest of Algeria.
680's: The female Berber chief, Kahina in eastern Algeria, leads a Berber resistance against the Muslims.
681: In Tunisia, an alliance with Kasila of Djedar is broken by the Muslims. Kasila first has to escape, but returns and takes Kairouan.
683: Uqba is defeated by a Berber chieftain, and his Muslim troops leaves Morocco.
683 or 684: Kasila conquers Kairouan, becoming king of Africa.
686: Kasila is killed by an Egyptian army.
698: Carthage is conquered by a Muslim Egyptian army, ending the Roman and Christian rule in North Africa.
710: The Arab governor Musa Ibn Nasr has taken control over the central regions of Morocco. At this point both Arab culture and Islam starts to gain a strong positions in Morocco.




By Tore Kjeilen