As the US celebrates its Independence Day, we reflect on US-Moroccan relations and Morocco’s role as the first country to recognize the US as an independent nation.
Rabat – As the US celebrates its Independence Day, we reflect on US-Moroccan relations and Morocco’s role as the first country to recognize the US as an independent nation.
The Fourth of July — also known as the United States’ Independence Day — has been a federal US holiday since 1941. However, the annual celebration dates back to 1776 when the Continental Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. A year later, Morocco became the first nation to recognize the US as an independent sovereign country.
In 2020, King Mohammed VI sends a congratulatory message to current US President Donald Trump in light of the nation’s Independence Day. On behalf of Morocco, Mohammed VI shared his sincere wishes for progress and prosperity to the American people.
The King also took the opportunity to highlight the special relationship between the two countries by noting their common interests and continued cooperation over the years. He emphasized his determination to maintain and uphold their common vision and strategic partnership, which was carved out by Morocco’s welcoming overseas.
The birth of a nation, the founding of a friendship
The US’ official separation with Great Britain was signified by the country’s Declaration of Independence. Yet the country’s patriotism was left relatively insular until 1977 when Morocco’s Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah issued a declaration permitting all vessels sailing under the US flag to freely enter Moroccan ports for trade. The historical move initiated the long-lasting and current friendship between the two countries.
In 1786, Morocco’s Sultan signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the US, establishing the longest running relationship in both countries’ histories. Still standing, the US embassy in Morocco characterizes the treaty and its sustaining impact as emblematic evidence of “mutual respect and friendship.”
The United States’ ongoing trade with Morocco eventually led to the establishment of the US consulate in 1797. In 1821, Sultan Moulay Soliman offered the US a beautiful building in Tangier to provide greater protection for American vessels. The building is known as one of the oldest pieces of property owned by the US abroad. Today, the US consulate is based out of Casablanca and the Tangier American Legation building commemorates the two countries’ historical relations.
Over time, Morocco and the US nurtured their relationship. During the First and Second World Wars, Morocco and the US strengthened their bond by reiterating their friendship and mutual support. Morocco aligned with the allied forces during World War I and offered its support to British and American troops during World War II.
Rooting for independence: A two-way street leading to strong diplomatic ties
Prior to Moroccan independence in 1956, US President Theodore Roosevelt validated Moroccan aspirations for independence and strategized the North African country’s development. When Morocco finally declared itself free from French colonial rule, the US continued to express solidarity and support for the country’s progress as an independent nation.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent good wishes to Sultan Mohamed V through a local diplomat saying, “My government renews its wishes for the peace and prosperity of Morocco, and has asked me to express its gratification that Morocco has freely chosen, as a sovereign nation, to continue in the path of its traditional friendships.”
Continuously growing relations
The US Senate advanced its representation in Morocco by appointing the first US ambassador to the country in July of 1956. Months following, full diplomatic relations were established between the two countries.
Morocco-US relations continue to move forward on economic, political, and social fronts. In the aftermath of 9/11, Morocco renewed its position as a strong US ally. Since, the countries have centered their ties around anti-terrorism efforts, increased security cooperation, their Free Trade Agreement, and socio-economic development.
Most recently, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) launched for the US to support Morocco’s youth employment programming and boost the country’s economy through improving land productivity. The governments of both countries are working to implement a $450 million compact intended to address constraints to Morocco’s economic growth.
Independence Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter revolution
The US’ 4th of July celebration is typically marked by festivities including fireworks, barbeques and picnics, concerts, parades, and parties. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the North American nation and the country is parted by racial tensions and protests, the holiday weighs heavier than usual.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” reads the Declaration’s renowned preamble.
For many, the current uprising declares the nation’s founding document a sham, citing the overarching racism and inequality that the country was founded upon and continues to struggle with today.
While Morocco maintains its positive ties with the US, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations Omar Zniber also contributed to the Black Lives Matter discussion on June 17 at an urgent UN debate. Zniber expressed Morocco’s anti-racist solidarity and clear position on racism.
“Morocco aligns itself with all those who have spoken out strongly against racism and the acts of violence that flow from racism,” said Zniber. He went on to explain Morocco’s deep values of tolerance and coexistence, emphasizing that the country condemns all forms of racism.
Additionally, US Ambassador to Morocco David Fischer released a statement on June 9 affirming the diplomatic mission’s commitment to racial justice in its partnership with Morocco. “America could not ask for a better partner [than Morocco] in making the world a better place,” he wrote.
Morocco-US relations in the fight against COVID-19
The international community has criticized Trump for his inaction and critical response to both the global pandemic and calls for racial justice. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Morocco has taken to social media to express praise for Morocco’s COVID-19 response.
“We commend Morocco’s leadership in the fight against COVID-19 and applaud its work supporting fellow African countries through donations of crucial PPE and medical supplies. The United States will continue to partner closely with Morocco to address global health challenges,” read the June 15 tweet.
Morocco’s historical legacy within the US remains a landmark in the country’s current political affairs and the two nations’ 243-year-old close ties.