Happy 237th, America! – Morocco
“The Moroccan-American friendship has existed for a long time. It is the result of special and unique ties rooted in our two nations’ time-honored history which dates back to the eighteenth century.”
—King Mohammed VI, message to Transatlantic Leadership Forum, Marrakech, July 1, 2013
Moroccan American Center (Washington, DC, July 3, 2013) — Tomorrow, July 4th, marks another birthday for the United States, celebrating 237 years of the great American experiment in democratic governance. As the first nation to recognize the independence of the American colonies, in 1777, Morocco has been there for the US, as a friend and partner, for 236 of those years.
As the fireworks are set to light up the night sky, it is a good time to remember again some of the key milestones that have shaped and defined the close relationship between our two nations, which has served our two cultures and people so well in the past, and promises to continue doing so in the future. Here are a few highlights. Happy birthday, America!
- Morocco was the first nation to recognize the independence of the American colonies, in 1777, sending a message of support to General George Washington and the Continental Army in their darkest hour in Valley Forge.
- In 1786, the two nations signed the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship and Peace, which was ratified by the US Senate in July 1787 and set the stage for continuous friendly relations between the two great nations. Negotiations for the treaty began in 1783, and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both future US Presidents, were the American signatories. The relationship remains in existence today, and is the longest-standing treaty of its kind in US history.
- During World War I, Morocco was aligned with the Allied forces and in 1917-1918 Moroccan soldiers fought victoriously alongside U.S. Marines at Château Thierry, Mont Blanc, and Soissons. During World War II, Moroccan national defense forces aided American and British forces operating in the area.
- Morocco hosted one of the most pivotal meetings of the allied leaders in World War II. President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Free French commander General Charles De Gaulle, met for four days in the Casablanca neighborhood of Anfa in January 1943 to discuss the war and agreed to launch their continental counter-push against Axis aggression through a beach head landing on the French Atlantic coast. At this meeting President Roosevelt also ensured he would do all in his power to support Morocco’s wish to be independent of the French.
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and its predecessor agencies have managed an active and effective assistance program in Morocco since 1953. The Peace Corps has been active in Morocco since 1963 and more than 4000 volunteers have served there. Currently there are nearly 200 volunteers in Morocco working on health, youth development, small business, and the environment.
- Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morocco showed solidarity and renewed its commitment as a strong ally of the US. As the Department of State affirms, “Morocco was among the first Arab and Islamic states to denounce the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and declare solidarity with the American people in the war against terror.”
- Today, that friendship continues with extended cooperation in many fields, highlighted by our common commitment to combat terrorism, the 2004 Free Trade Agreement, the designation of Morocco as a non-NATO Ally, the partnership in the Millennium Challenge account, and the Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue initiated last year.
- In a message earlier this week to the 2013 Transatlantic Leadership Forum, King Mohammed VI said the US and Morocco are committed to “uphold the same founding principles” and that continued relations “reflect our common desire and our firm resolve to further develop our economic relations so they can match the depth of the political relationship between our two nations.” The King noted “the sweeping reforms” introduced by Morocco to “enhance democratic practice at both local and national levels,” adding that “for us, local democracy is not just a declaration of intent,” but a “reality which is now enshrined in the new Constitution.”
- In its current role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Morocco is an important partner with the US in pursuing peaceful resolutions for conflicts such as those in Syria and Mali. And the Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue has established another important vehicle for deepening Morocco-US relations across a range of economic, political, social, and security issues shaping the region.
Kudos to Morocco where I lived and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer TEFL teacher from 1968-1971 in Settat. Morocco was a seminal experience in my life. I am also proud of King Mohammed VI for his outreach to the Jewish heritage of Morocco. It fills me with great pride and admiration to see a country that proves that Semitic brothers of Hebrew and Muslim background can live together and thrive.