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U.S.-Moroccan Relations

It is in the US interest to have friendly relations with the Moroccan government as a means of furthe ring US objectives in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Arab world. A hostile government in Morocco could pose problems for naval access through the Strait of Gibraltar in times of crisis, and an increased Soviet presence in the country would be of concern to NATO and the Sixth Fleet.

Israel and Morocco agreed on 10 December 2020 to normalise relations in a deal brokered with US help, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to set aside hostilities with Israel in the past four months. As part of the agreement, US President Donald Trump changed longstanding US policy and recognised Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara. The Western Sahara is a desert region where a decades-old territorial dispute has pitted Morocco against the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, a breakaway movement that seeks to establish an independent state in the territory. Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco's King Mohammed VI.

Morocco was the first country to seek diplomatic relations with the Government of the United States in 1777, and remains one of America's oldest and closest allies in the region. Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787, when the two nations negotiated a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history. As testament to the special nature of the U.S.-Moroccan relationship, Tangier is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only building on foreign soil that is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the American Legation in Tangier (now a museum).

During the Madrid Conference in 1880 and again at the Algeciras Conference in 1906, American representatives spoke eloquently in defense of Morocco. At the turn of the century the U.S. reaffirmed its 'open door' policy with regard to Morocco, calling for the maintenance of order and guarantees of religious and racial toleration in Morocco: "in short, fair play is what the United States asks for Morocco and all interested parties." Declaring its neutrality in the controversy over domination of Morocco, the United States stressed the introduction of "reforms based upon the triple principle of the sovereignty of His Majesty, the Sultan, the integrity of his domains, and economic liberty without any inequality." The United States did not accept the French Protectorate de jure. It retained its legal position under the 1906 Treaty of Algeciras, even to the point of having a functioning legation and minister in Tangier and preserving the right to communicate with thé Sultan which no other government maintained.

Despite the famous Humphrey Bogart movie Casablanca, which featured a host of Nazi, Allied, and Vichy French spies, the Moroccan position during the war was quite clear; it picked the Allied cause against fascism. The first inkling of Morocco's pro-U.S. stance came with Mohammed V's proclamation on 7 September 1938: "I wish to confirm with the highest and clearest voice that Morocco's King and his subjects will offer unified resistance and will side with France." On 3 September 1939, Moroccan mosques issued in poetic prose, a royal proclamation that reminded its citizens of World War I's effect on society, emphasizing the need to back France once again against the Germans. Mohammed V entered onto the world scene as a result of his famous meeting on January 22, 1943 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Anfa, a suburb of Casablanca. In Morocco to meet with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Generals Charles De Gaulle and Henri Giraud, Roosevelt decided, apparently on the spur of the moment, to make contact with the sovereign of the country in which this summit conférence was taking place.

U.S.-Moroccan relations, characterized by mutual respect and friendship, remained strong through cooperation and sustained high-level dialogue. King Hassan II visited the United States several times during his reign as King, meeting with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. King Mohammed VI has continued his father's tradition; he made his first trip to the U.S. as King on June 20, 2000. Prime Minister Jettou visited Washington in January 2004, and King Mohammed came to the United States in July 2004. Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to Morocco in December 2004 to co-chair with Foreign Minister Benaissa the first meeting of the G8-BMENA "Forum for the Future." In August 2007, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes visited Morocco to meet with Moroccan officials, Moroccan non-governmental organizations, and students.

As a stable, democratizing, and liberalizing Arab Muslim nation, Morocco is important for U.S. interests in the Middle East. Accordingly, U.S. policy toward Morocco seeks sustained and strong engagement, and identifies priorities of economic, social, and political reform; conflict resolution; counterterrorism/security cooperation; and public outreach. In August 2007, the U.S. and Morocco signed a Millennium Challenge Compact totaling $697.5 million to be paid out over five years. The Compact was designed to stimulate economic growth by increasing productivity and improving employment in high-potential sectors, such as artisanry and fishing.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its predecessor agencies managed an active and effective assistance program in Morocco since 1953, for a cumulative amount exceeding $2 billion. The amount of USAID assistance to Morocco in FY 2007 was $19.9 million, with an estimated $20.3 million allotted for FY 2008. USAID's current multi-sectoral strategy (2004-2008) consists of three strategic objectives in creating more opportunities for trade and investment, basic education and workforce training, and government responsiveness to citizen needs.

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Page last modified: 12-12-2020 10:44:52 ZULU