It was 1777. America, the fledgling young republic that had declared its independence from British rule the year before, was struggling to survive. There was one nation, however, that stood by America in its early days and was actually the first country in the world to recognize America as a sovereign nation. France, you might guess? No, while the French were a great help militarily during the American Revolutionary War, the first nation that actually recognized our sovereignty was Morocco. In 1777, Moroccan Sultan Mohammed III became the first head of state to recognize the United States and added America to the nations Morocco's ports were open to.
Almost a decade later, in 1786, the United States of America and Morocco signed the US-Morocco Treaty of Peace and Friendship which, to this day, remains the longest standing treaty in our nation's history. And in 1789, President George Washington actually sent a copy of the U.S. Constitution to Morocco.
The Sultan, who was a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, came from the Alaouite Dynasty. Today, his descendant, Mohammed VI sits on the throne as King of Morocco. Morocco is America's oldest ally, and over these past 240 years, has remained one of America's best allies. Over the years they have been rock solid and steady in support of the United States. Their relationship with the USA has often been overshadowed by others and because the Moroccans don't always tout the long-standing relationship on the world stage, they truly are America's forgotten ally.
Consider the following:
- Morocco has long sided with the United States during wartime throughout American history.
- During the first Gulf War, Morocco was the only Maghreb (Northwest Africa) member of the U.S. led coalition.
- Morocco has been a key ally in the United States' War on Terror and according to Wall Street International earlier this year, Moroccan intelligence has dismantled 40 terrorist cells and arrested 548 people since 2015.
- U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Forces Command have worked closely with Morocco over the years conducting various training exercises, including the recent Operation Flintlock 2017.
- Moroccan and American troops have engaged in joint airborne training and Morocco has a partnership with the Utah National Guard.
- Morocco has provided key counterterrorism intelligence to the U.S. and its allies on ISIS.
- According to former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg last year, Moroccan Special Forces actually deployed with American and French counterterrorism special forces in Europe to uncover ISIS cells.
- A free-trade agreement (FTA) exists between the United States and Morocco and Moroccans have actually bought more goods and services from the United States than we buy from them.
Morocco also has a solid and reliable leader in its King, Mohammed VI, who has carried on the traditions of his late father, King Hassan II. He has granted more power to women and continues Morocco's tradition of good relations with Christians and Jews. In fact, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Vice President Yael Eckstein has stated that Morocco defines tolerance and “is one of the few places where Christians, Muslims and Jews coexist in peace and mutual respect.” In 2011, the King appointed respected international human rights activist Driss El Yazami to chair Morocco's National Human Rights Council. El Yazami is a strong friend of the United States. He visited Charleston, South Carolina, two years ago following the Emanuel AME Church tragedy to praise the people of Charleston for showing others how to come together with strong spirit which "is a real message for hope for all of us."
To be clear, America has other solid allies in the Muslim world like King Abdullah of Jordan, who is also descended from the Prophet Muhammad, and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who had the guts to stand up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. also has to deal with old allies who are now unreliable, like Turkey. Last year, Turkey’s autocratic ruler Recip Tayyip Erodgan shut down power at the Incrilik Air Base and temporarily prohibited all U.S. Air Force planes stationed there from taking off and landing. This at the very NATO base where reports estimate close to 50 B-61 nuclear bombs are housed in underground vaults.
Today, the United States is confronted with the most complex foreign policy situation in our nation’s history. Morocco, America oldest ally, and yes, our forgotten ally, can now be a bridge to both Africa, where radical Islam is on the rise, and to the Middle East and Muslim world. It can also help fill the void being left by once reliable allies like Turkey. Now is the time to strengthen and foster America's relationship with our oldest ally — America's forgotten ally — Morocco.
Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of "The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It." To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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