Saturday, July 16, 2011

USA - MOROCCO - Happy 225th Anniversary!

Yesterday (July 15) marks the 225th anniversary of the longest unbroken treaty relationship to which the United States is a party. It was Morocco that first recognised the USA as a nation.

J. Peter Pham is director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council and writes for The Atlanticist. Here is an excerpt from his interesting article. For the full story click this link : Atlantic Council

On July 15, 1786 (18 Ramadan 1200), in Marrakech, American agent Thomas Barclay was handed the final protocol of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship by his Moroccan counterpart Taher Ben Abdelhack Fennish. Certified translations of the articles would be incorporated in a document eventually signed by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as ministers plenipotentiary and ratified by Congress the following year on July 18, 1787. The long-term success of the partnership which emerged from the treaty contains lessons which are still relevant as Washington seeks to strengthen or forge links with other African countries, especially those along the Atlantic coast of the continent.

Although Sultan Mohammed III ben Abdallah al-Khatib was the first foreign sovereign to recognize the independence of the United States when, in December 1777, he included America in the list of countries to whom Morocco’s ports were open, the relationship nearly floundered when Benjamin Franklin was convinced by his Parisian hosts to ignore the overtures of Etienne d’Audibert Caille, a merchant in Sale whom the monarch entrusted with initiating contact with the new country. Fortunately, Caille was persistent and went over Franklin’s head and appealed to the Second Continental Congress which, after some delay, commissioned Jefferson and Adams to negotiate a treaty, recognizing the value of the offer of diplomatic and economic relations to a young nation still struggling for acceptance in the international community.

King Mohammed VI and Hilary Clinton - a great friendship

The treaty relationship between the United States and Morocco was by no means assured, especially given the various obstacles that had to be overcome in order to even sign the accord, much less to permanently renew it in 1836. Nevertheless, more than two centuries after its signing, the pact has proven to have justified both the farsightedness of Mohammed III and the efforts of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. If today the balance has shifted in favor of what Morocco gains from close ties with an America that has grown immensely since the treaty of friendship was negotiated by Barclay and Fennish, nonetheless it remains a vital asset for the United States to continue having the kingdom as moderate – indeed, reformist – ally in the Maghreb as well as a political and commercial springboard for links presently being forged in the geostrategically increasingly important areas along the Africa’s Atlantic coast.

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