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Morocco – United States relations
Morocco   United States
Map indicating location of Morocco and USA
     Morocco      United States

Morocco – United States relations are bilateral relations between Morocco and the United States. In 1777 Morocco became the first country to publicly recognize the United States, and it remains one of America's oldest and closest allies in the Middle East and North Africa. Formal U.S. relations with Morocco date from 1787 when Congress ratified a Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two nations.[1] Renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force, constituting the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history, and Tangier is home to the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world. Now a museum, the Tangier American Legation Museum is also the only building on foreign soil that is now a National Historic Landmark.[2]

U.S.-Moroccan relations, have generally remained positive, and under the prior King, King Hassan II, Morocco was seen by the US as a bulwark against radicalism. American diplomatic policy has characterized Morocco as a stable, democratizing, and liberalizing Arab Muslim nation, important to US interests. Morocco has received US assistance since independence in 1953, via U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its predecessor agencies, receiving a cumulative amount exceeding $2 billion. The amount of USAID assistance to Morocco in FY 2006 was $19.2 million, with an estimated $18.9 million allotted for FY 2007. 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.

The Peace Corps has been active in Morocco for more than 40 years, with the first group of 53 volunteers arriving in the country in 1963. Since that time, nearly 4,000 volunteers have served in Morocco, and have served in a variety of capacities including lab technology, urban development, commercial development, education, rural water supply, small business development, beekeeping, and English training. In 2007, 197 volunteers served in Morocco, working in four sectors: health, youth development, small business, and the environment.

The U.S. maintains an embassy in Rabat, Morocco.




1750 - 1912

After making Morocco the first country to publicly recognize the fledging American republic in December 1777, Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdullah actively sought for several years to have an American agent come negotiate a treaty. Finally, Thomas Barclay, the American consul in France, arrived in Morocco in 1786. There he quickly negotiated the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship that was signed late that year in Europe by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and ratified by Congress in July 1787.[3]

During the American Civil War, Morocco reaffirmed its diplomatic alliance with the United States by assuring Washington that the Kingdom, “being a sincere friend of the American nation, would never air or give countenance to the [Confederate] insurgents.”

The first international convention ever signed by the United States, the 1865 Spartel Lighthouse Treaty, dealt with a navigational aid erected on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar. The Treaty, ratified by Morocco, President Andrew Johnson and nine European heads of state, granted neutrality to the lighthouse with the condition that the ten naval powers signing the agreement assumed responsibility for its maintenance.

Around the turn of the 20th Century, as European colonizers gazed hungrily as Morocco’s resources and strategically located harbors, the United States strongly defended the Kingdom’s right to its continued sovereignty at the 1880 Madrid Conference and at the Algeciras Conference in 1906.

In 1912, after Morocco became a protectorate of Spain and France, American diplomats called upon the European powers to exercise colonial rule that guaranteed racial and religious tolerance: In short, the U.S. Consul in Tanger declared,” fair play is what the United States asks for Morocco and all interested parties.”

World War I - World War II

During World War I, Morocco was aligned with the Allied forces. In 1917 and 1918, Moroccan soldiers fought victoriously alongside U.S. Marines at Chateau Thierry, Mont Blanc and Soissons.

With France occupied by the Nazis during World War II, colonial French Morocco sided with the Axis Powers. When the Allies invaded Morocco on November 8, 1942, Moroccan defenders quickly yielded to the American and British invaders. Shortly after Morocco surrendered, President Franklin Roosevelt sent a message to Morocco’s King, H.E. Mohammed V, commending him on the “admirable spirit of cooperation that is animating you and your people in their relationships with the forces of my country. Our victory over the Germans will, I know, inaugurate a period of peace and prosperity, during which the Moroccan and French people of North Africa will flourish and thrive in a manner that befits its glorious past.”

In what was to be the most pivotal meeting of Allied leaders during the 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 suburb of Anfa in January 1943 to discuss the war. During the Anfa Conference, the Allies agreed that the only acceptable outcome of the conflict was the “unconditional surrender” of the Axis forces. Roosevelt also conferred privately with King Mohammed V to assure him that the United States would support Morocco’s quest for independence.

1956 - Present

The Embassy of Morocco, located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

When Morocco finally gained independence on March 2, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower sent a congratulatory message to King Mohammed V: “My government renews it wishes for the peace and prosperity of Morocco, and expresses its gratification that Morocco has freely chosen, as a sovereign nation, to continue in the path of its traditional friendships.”

In November 1957, King Mohammed V traveled to Washington to pay an official call on President Eisenhower. Two years later, Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon, traveled to Rabat to meet with the King.

In 1961, H.E. King Hassan II, Mohammed V’s successor, made the first of several diplomatic visits to the United States to confer with President John F. Kennedy. King Hassan II would later journey to Washington to meet Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

President Clinton personally flew to Rabat in July 1999 to attend King Hassan II’s funeral, and to meet the son who succeeded him, H.E. King Mohammed VI. One year later, King Mohammed VI made his first official visit to Washington.

In the 21st century, both countries have become close allies in the global war on terror. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morocco shared valuable information with the United States about al Qaeda. Conversely, when Casablanca was the victim of terrorist bombings on May 16, 2003, the U.S. government offered Morocco – one of it oldest allies—the full resources of its military and intelligence community.[4]

American policy on Western Sahara conflict

The United States is a traditional ally and friend of Morocco, as confirmed by Baker's nomination to be special envoy and especially by the evolution in his positions since taking the job. However, the remarkable improvement in US-Algerian relations has made all-out support for Morocco implausible. Particularly since September 11, 2001, US-Algerian relations have improved considerably. Algeria's impressive hydrocarbon resources and large potential market make it look more and more like the preferred US ally in North Africa. Meanwhile, Morocco's strategic significance has declined in Washington's eyes.

Congress, despite the pro-Moroccan positions of the pro-Israel lobby, has not been as pro-Moroccan as the executive branch. Sahrawis, in fact, have steadfast support among some Republican and Democratic members of Congress. In this environment, the Bush administration can ill afford to act in a way that might trigger resumption of hostilities in the region, as no Congressional majority exists to endorse military support for Morocco. Growing US interests in the region, especially in the Algerian hydrocarbon sector, make it doubtful that the US would welcome further instability in North Africa.

US administrations have been careful not to alienate Algeria. But, unlike France, the US has sought a resolution of the Sahrawi conflict—preferably in Morocco's favor—in order to force the process of regional economic integration. Such integration, policymakers hope, will create the conditions for a market wide enough to attract US investment. By favoring Morocco's stance, the US has set a dangerous precedent for its diplomatic standing in the region. Nonetheless, both France and the US continue to support the autonomy plan, introduced by Morocco, convinced that Morocco will not accept the verdict of a referendum.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

  • Ambassador--Thomas T. Riley
  • Deputy Chief of Mission—Robert Jackson
  • Director, USAID Mission—Monica Stein-Olson
  • Political Counselor—Craig Karp
  • Economic Counselor—Stuart Smith
  • Agricultural Affairs Officer—Michael Fay
  • Foreign Commercial Officer—Rick Ortiz
  • Public Affairs Officer—Evelyn Early
  • Consul General, Casablanca—Douglas Greene


  1. ^
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  3. ^ Roberts, Priscilla H. and Richard S. Roberts, Thomas Barclay (1728-1793): Consul in France, Diplomat in Barbary, Lehigh University Press, 2008, pp. 189-223.
  4. ^

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]


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