MOTM — Today marks another birthday for the United States, celebrating 238 years of America’s great experiment in democratic governance. As the first nation to recognize the independence of the American colonies, in 1777, Morocco has been there as a friend and partner to the US for 237 of those years ― virtually every step of the way.
As the fireworks light up the sky tonight, it is a good time to remember again some of the key milestones that have shaped and defined the close relationship between Morocco and the US, 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 during 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 hundreds of volunteers working in Morocco 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 major non-NATO Ally, the partnership in the Millennium Challenge account, and the Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue initiated in 2012.
- Morocco continues to be an important strategic partner with the US in pursuing peaceful resolutions for conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. The Morocco-US Strategic Dialogue has established an important vehicle for deepening Morocco-US relations across a range of economic, political, social, and security issues. During his visit to Morocco in April, Secretary of State John Kerry praised King Mohammed VI and Morocco for their “essential leadership” in the region, saying Morocco “plays a very important role in facing extremism, and it also disseminates cooperation with African countries in the religious domain at a moment where Africa needs this spiritual support to face terrorism based on these values, the values of tolerance.”