Rabat – Nineteen months after the last US ambassador left Rabat, the new ambassador nominee has begun confirmation hearings in the US Senate.
US President Donald Trump nominated David T. Fischer, who contributed to Trump’s campaign and inauguration, in November 2017. The nomination came nine months after Ambassador to Morocco Dwight Bush left. Trump has received heavy criticism for taking too long to nominate ambassadors to key US allies, including South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Even after Fischer was nominated, it took the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee almost 10 months to hold a hearing on the nominee to hear his potential strategy if confirmed as ambassador to Rabat.
However, the confirmation process can be slow in the US Senate, as another ambassador nominated last November, Joseph Macmanus to Colombia, has not been confirmed yet.
The foreign relations committee has not yet approved Fischer’s nomination, and requested additional documentation from the nominee in regards to a lawsuit against his business. If the senate committee votes to approve the ambassador, Fischer’s nomination will be subject to a vote by all members of the US Senate.
Moroccan analysts worried that Morocco-US relations were not stable as the Trump administration nominated an ambassador to Algeria in July 2017 before Fischer’s nomination.
These analyses, however, started to fade away as the US and Morocco called for consolidating their ties in different symposiums and conferences.
Fischer’s answers during the hearing confirmed the healthy relations between both countries as he made a pitch to Morocco for consolidating the “vital” bilateral ties between the two countries. He offered welcoming remarks on Morocco-US bonds in an opening statement at a hearing before the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, August 23.
Morocco a historical ally of the US
Fischer said that Morocco is one of the US’ “oldest allies,” recalling the treaty “of friendship with Morocco, ratified in 1787.”
He added that the treaty is the “longest, unbroken treaty relationship in the United States’ history.”
According to the US nominee, the Morocco-US friendship along with economic, political, and security cooperation “is vital and must be consolidated.”
Fischer said that he welcomes the “fact that the enormous economic opportunities in the commercial fields and exports from the United States to Morocco have tripled in recent years.”
The US ambassador nominee also recalled that Morocco is a gateway for US companies to access other markets.
Pending confirmation on his nomination as ambassador, Fischer said he would work “with the aim of widening the opportunities for [American] companies.”
Fischer has a business vision as he holds the position of CEO of Suburban Collection, the largest car dealership in Michigan with 48 franchised stores.
Fischer said that the US and Morocco “remain resolute in their intention to advance religious freedom and fight against violent extremism,” adding that the North African country is a “partner capable and active.”
He added that Morocco was the “first African country to join the International Coalition against Daesh, while co-chairing the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).”
Throughout the years, US State Department has welcomed Morocco’s efforts in fighting terrorism and extremism.
Earlier this month, the US president applauded King Mohammed VI’s leadership in “international efforts to promote religious tolerance and fight against extremism.”
Trump also welcomed the friendship between the two countries, which based on an interest “to promote peace, stability and economic opportunities.”
Fischer echoed Trump’s remarks, emphasizing that he is looking forward to working to “further consolidate our security corporation with Morocco, in order to protect the interests of the United States in the region.”
“Today, the United States is facing complex foreign policy challenges around the world. Morocco is positioning itself as a gateway to Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world. Building a relationship with His Majesty King Mohammed VI will be of primary importance as we strive to strengthen our collaboration while being backed by a foundation of mutual trust,” he said.
The nominee remains “convinced that my own experience in building and consolidating strategic alliances, culture in the area of trade promotion, support and promotion of social welfare and human rights will be put to good use in the service of the Trump Administration and the United States, if my appointment is confirmed.”
Concluding his statement, Fischer said that he is “fully aware” that it will be his mission and “privilege to work on behalf of President Donald Trump… to represent the United States of America to advance our interests and to help consolidate Morocco a vital, secure and prosperous ally of the United States.”
Western Sahara conflict took part in hearing
“How likely is a new round of direct talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front, how realistic are expectations that those talks could move this stalemated and perennial conflict into a new place?” asked one senator about Fischer’s thoughts regarding the forty-year-long dispute.
Fischer then recalled that the US continues to “support the UN-led efforts to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict.”
The nominee recalled the mission of the special envoy to Western Sahara of the UN secretary-general, Horst Kohler, who recently visited Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania.
Fischer noted that the UN is in talks with the concerned parties to find a solution to the dispute over the region.
Human trafficking in Morocco remains a concern for the US
During his hearing, Fischer was asked by US Senator Jeanne Shaheen how he would tackle the issue of human trafficking in Morocco. Shaheen said that “human trafficking” and “human rights violations” have increased in recent years in Morocco. She asked Fischer how he would deal with the issue if confirmed.
Recalling a report from the US Department of State, Fischer agreed that the issues are a problem. The human trafficking report, according to Fischer, found that the country’s efforts do not meet “the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking.” However, he believed that the Moroccan government is making “significant efforts” to handle the issues. He also said that the country introduced a law that prohibits all forms of trafficking.
Senator Tim Kaine asked Fischer if he would stand for “justice, democracy, equality, and free speech,” recalling some of the problematic actions the Moroccan government has taken against protestors and activists, specifically the heavy sentences given to “non-violent” Hirak Rif activists.
Fischer assured the committee he would work to also ensure that he will serve the interests of citizens and ensure peace, prosperity, respect, and human happiness.
The senator then called on Fischer to discuss the political issues with the Moroccan government.
However, Morocco’s position on the issues has been made clear on several occasions.
Recently, the Moroccan government rejected the Netherlands’ “interference” in Morocco’s internal affairs.
Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita commented on the country’s remarks, which criticized the heavy sentences against Hirak activists involved in the Hirak Rif movement.
“I have made it clear that the Rif’s Hirak is a strictly internal affair and is by no means an object of diplomatic discussion,” said Bourita.
However, after an unconfirmed number of activists were pardoned on Wednesday, August 22, Morocco’s Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid said, “If the other prisoners act wisely and clear-sightedly, this dossier will soon be closed, because there is no desire on the government part to take revenge.”