Morocco

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Overview

Familiar to classic film buffs from the Hollywood movie Casablanca, Morocco is the United States’ oldest ally. Although always nominally independent, in fact Morocco was run by France from 1912 to 1956. Strategically situated at the Strait of Gibraltar at the Western end of the Mediterranean, Morocco plays an important role in world diplomacy as a moderate Arab nation. It is a long-time ally of the United States. Today, the country controls most of Western Sahara, which the UN declares a “non-self-governing territory.”

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Basic Information

Location: Located in Northwestern Africa, Morocco is bordered by Spain (across the Strait of Gibraltar) and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the east, Western Sahara to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. With a total land area of 172,414 square miles, Morocco is slightly larger than California. Two mountain ranges, the Rif and the Atlas, occupy more than a third of its total area. The vast majority of the population resides between the Atlantic Ocean and those mountains, south and east of which lays the sparsely populated Sahara Desert. The largest city in Morocco is Casablanca, where more than 3.2 million Moroccans live, while Rabat, home to only 627,000, is the capital. Although Morocco has annexed the adjacent territory of Western Sahara, an independence movement is active there, and very few countries have officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty. 

 
Population: 34,859,364 (July 2009 est.)
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim (99%), Jewish (about 4,000 or <0.1%), Christian (about 5,000 or <0.1%).
 
Ethnic Groups: Berber-Arab (99%), Other (1%). 
 
Languages: Arabic is the official language. There are nine living languages spoken in Morocco, including Tachelhit, Tamazight, and Tarifit, which are Berber languages spoken by about 60% of the population. French, which is Morocco’s unofficial second language, is taught universally and serves as the primary language of commerce and government.
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History

The Berbers, a people who now inhabit the lands lying between the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, from Egypt to Morocco, were present in Morocco by the end of the second millennium BCE. They were primarily settled farmers, though some were nomadic. Phoenician traders established trading ports along Morocco’s Mediterranean coast in the twelfth century BCE. The northern coast of Morocco was part of the ethnically Phoenician Carthaginian Empire between the 5th century BCE and 146 BCE, when Rome defeated Carthage and extended Roman rule over the coast. In the 5th century, as Rome fell into decline, Morocco fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greeks in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains of Morocco remained in the hands of their Berber inhabitants. 

 
Arabs conquered the region in the 7th century, bringing their civilization and Islam, to which many of the Berbers converted. This became the first Islamic African state and was known as the Idrisid dynasty. While the Berbers converted to Islam, the Berber tribes retained their customary laws, and relations between them and the Arabs were fraught with tension. Nevertheless, Arab religious, social, and linguistic traditions became a central part of Moroccan culture. 
 
In the eleventh century, the first of several Berber dynasties overthrew Arab rule and established regional empires governed from Morocco. The last of these dynasties, the Alaouites, gained power in 1666, claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, and continues to rule the country today. 
 
In 1777, Morocco was the first state to recognize the sovereignty of the United States.
 
The Alaouite dynasty preserved its independence throughout the 18th and 19th centuries while other states in the region succumbed to Turkish, French, or British domination. However, towards the end of century, European imperial powers began to take advantage of Morocco’s instability and demanded economic concessions to protect their investments. Eventually, Morocco was forced to recognize a French Protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, signed in 1912. 
 
From a strictly legal point of view, Morocco remained an independent country ruled by the sultan. In fact, however, the sultan reigned but did not rule. Under the French protectorate, infrastructure investment linked the cities of the Atlantic coast to the hinterland, creating an integrated economic area in Morocco.
 
In 1944, the independence party Istiqlāl was founded, supported by Sultan Muhammad V (1927-1961). It demanded full independence. In 1953, France exiled Mohammed and replaced him with the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa. Ben Aarafa’s reign was widely perceived as illegitimate, and sparked further opposition to French rule. 
 
France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955 and have limited rule under the conditions that he accept democratic reform. By March 2,1956, Morocco had regained its full independence through a Spanish-Moroccan Agreement.
 
Sultan Mohammed, who took the title of King Mohammed V in 1957, formed a constitutional government that gives supreme executive power to a hereditary king, who appoints a prime minister. The constitution also created a House of Representatives and an independent judiciary. 
 
Upon Mohammed’s death in 1961, his son Hassan became King Hassan II. Hassan’s conservative rule, characterized by a poor human rights record, strengthened the Alaouite dynasty. The period from the 1960s to the late 1980s was labeled by the Moroccan opposition as the “years of lead” and saw many dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared.
 
Although Morocco technically had a multi-party political system, in 1965 King Hassan dissolved Parliament and ruled directly. When elections were eventually held, they were mostly rigged in favor of parties loyal to Hassan. This caused popular discontent, and protests and riots challenged the King’s rule.
 
In the early 1970s, Hassan survived two assassination attempts. Hassan finally began to relax his regime’s authoritarianism in the 1990s, when he extended many parliamentary functions, released hundreds of political prisoners, and set up a Royal Council for Human Rights to look into allegations of abuse by the State. Perhaps most significantly, the March 1998 elections were won by a coalition headed by opposition socialist leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi, who formed a government composed largely of ministers drawn from opposition parties. Prime Minister Youssoufi’s government was the first drawn primarily from opposition parties in decades, and also represented the first opportunity for a coalition of socialist, left-of-center, and nationalist parties to be included in a government.
 
On the international front, Hassan pursued an aggressive policy regarding the Western Sahara, until 1975 a colony of Spain bordering Morocco to the south. Ignoring a 1975 advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Morocco’s claim to the territory was not valid, Moroccan forces occupied Western Sahara in 1976. Since that time, although Morocco has maintained de facto control of most of Western Sahara, a movement of popular resistance, called the Polisario Front, has waged a continuous struggle for independence, and few countries have recognized Morocco’s sovereignty.
 
Upon King Hassan’s death in 1999, he was succeeded by his son Mohammed, who became King Mohammed VI. Mohammed has continued and accelerated his father’s liberalizing policies, promising to take on poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco’s human rights record. Mohammed is generally opposed by Islamist conservatives, and some of his reforms, such as a new code of family law granting women more rights, have angered fundamentalists. Mohammed VI also created the Fairness and Reconciliation Commission, which is supposed to protect and promote human rights in Morocco and to compensate victims of past violations. Although some welcomed this move as a move towards democracy, many were critical because the commission was not allowed to mention King Hassan by name, identify or prosecute human rights violators, criticize free speech violations, or report about human rights violations since 1999, when Mohammed was enthroned.
 
On May 16, 2003, the terrorist group, Salafiya Jihadiya, sent 12 suicide bombers to attack Jews in Casablanca, resulting in the death of 33 people. This led to a campaign against terrorism including not only Slafiya Jihadiya, but also the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, in which more than a thousand people were arrested by 2006.
 
In April 2008, two Moroccans who were involved with the 2003 Casablanca bombings were arrested by Spanish police. In the same month, nine prisoners, who were involved in the 2003 bombing, escaped from a prison north of Rabat.
 
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Morocco's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Morocco

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States, which Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ben Abdullah did on December 20, 1777. In 1787, the two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed by Thomas Jefferson,John Adams, and Muhammad III, which became the first treaty ratified by the Congress under the Constitution. The treaty was renegotiated in 1836 and is still applicable today, representing the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history.

 
In 1821, Tangiers hosted the first American diplomatic property. Sultan Moulay Suliman had the structure built for the US and it served as residence for the US Legation and Consulate for 140 years. During WWII, it became the headquarters for US intelligence agents. It eventually was used for consul and Peace Corps offices. Today, it is a museum.
 
During the American Civil War, Morocco proved its diplomatic alliance with the US by assuring Washington that the Kingdom, “being a sincere friend of the American nation, would never aid or give countenance to the [Confederate] insurgents.” In 1862, two Confederate diplomats were arrested in Morocco after insulting the US and its flag.
 
In 1865, the US signed its first international convention with Morocco and nine European states. The Spartel Lighthouse Treaty discusses navigational aid on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
In the 1880 Conference of Madrid and the 1906 Algeciras Conference, the US defended Morocco’s sovereignty. During the Algeciras Conference, President Theodore Roosevelt played a pivotal role in solving the First Moroccan Crisis, a dispute between France and Germany over protectorate rights. The result was that the State Bank of Morocco was limited in its control of the Empire’s spending, the Moroccan government gained some control of European land ownership, and the Sultan retained control of the police in six port cities.
 
In 1912, after Morocco became a protectorate of France, American diplomats called on the European powers to exercise colonial rule in ways that guaranteed racial and religious tolerance.
 
During World War I, Morocco fought alongside the US at the battles of Blanc Mont, Chateau Thierry, and Soissons in 1917-1918.
 
With France occupied by the Germans during World War II (as dramatized in the Hollywood film Casablanca, the authorities in colonial French Morocco sided with the Axis Powers. When the Allies invaded Morocco on November 8, 1942, however, Moroccan defenders surrendered to the American and British invaders. At the Casablanca Conference, attended by President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Free French leader Charles de Gaulle in January 1943, Roosevelt privately assured Moroccan Sultan Mohammed V of U.S. support for Moroccan independence after the conclusion of World War II.
 
In the Cold War era, King Hassan II allied Morocco with the West generally, and with the United States in particular. There were close and continuing ties between Hassan II’s government and the CIA, which helped to reorganize Morocco’s security forces in 1960. Hassan served as a back channel between the Arab world and Israel, facilitating early negotiations between them.
 
In 1961, King Hassan II made the first of many diplomatic visits to the US, while President Bill Clinton flew to Morocco in July 1999 to attend King Hassan II’s funeral and meet his successor, King Mohammed VI.
 
Although the U.S. does not support Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, the closeness of the bilateral relationship has caused Washington to refrain from openly criticizing Morocco on this issue.
        
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Current U.S. Relations with Morocco

Famous Moroccan Americans:

Sports:
Khalid Khannouchi: Khannouchi is a marathoner born in Meknes, Morocco in December 1971 and moved to Brooklyn in 1992. He is the former world record holder for both the marathon and the road world best for the 20 km distance.
Business:
Hassan Samrhouni: The Moroccan-born activist serves as a goodwill ambassador between the two countries and is president and founder of the Washington Moroccan Club and CEO of Casablanca Travel and Tours. He moved to the US in 1982.
Marc Lasry: The billionaire is the manager, co-founder, and CEO of the hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. He was born in 1960 in Morocco and grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Entertainment:
Sanaa Hamri: She is a music video and film director nominated twice in 2007 for the Black Reel’s Best Director and Image Award’s Outstanding Directing a Feature Film/Television – Comedy or Drama for Something New. She was born in Tangier, Morocco in 1975 and moved to Manhattan in 1996.
Shiri Appleby: The actress was born in Los Angeles to a Israeli mother of Moroccan ancestry. She was nominated in 1993 by Young Artist Awards for Best Young Actress in a Cable Movie for Perfect Family and in 2000 by Teen Choice Awards for the Choice Actress for Roswell.
Politicians:
John Fritchey: A Democrat, he has represented Illinois in the House of Representatives since 1996. He was born in Louisiana to an immigrant mother from Oujda, Morocco.
Science:
Paul Benacerraf: He worked in the field of philosophy of mathematics and teaches at Princeton University. He is known for his two papers What Numbers Could Not Be (1965) and Mathematical Truth (1973). He was born in Paris to an Algerian mother and Moroccan father.
 
 
In the 21st century Morocco and the U.S have maintained and strengthened their close ties in numerous ways including two US visits by King Mohammed in 2000 and 2002.
 
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morocco shared valuable information with the United States about al-Qaeda and denounced the attacks. Since then, security ties have continued to increase between the two nations.
 
For example, US intelligence cooperated with King Mohammed VI to avert terrorist attacks in the Strait of Gibraltar. Morocco is also instrumental in containing Salafist groups in West Africa under the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism initiative. Also, when Casablanca was the victim of terrorist bombings on May 16, 2003, the U.S. government offered Morocco the full resources of its military and intelligence community.
 
The U.S. granted Morocco Major non-NATO ally status in June 2004, which was expected to make it easier for American companies to sell arms to Morocco. Also in 2004, Morocco signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is administering a new $131.5 million USAID/Morocco assistance program for 2009-2013, whose aims are to improve the Moroccan business climate, enhance educational opportunities, and support democratization. Finally, the Peace Corps, which has been active in Morocco since its inception in 1963, currently has 260 volunteers in country working on environmental issues, health care, small business development, and youth programs.  
 
In 2004, Morocco and the US signed a Free Trade Agreement to help liberalize trade and promote economic reform.
 
In 2008 and 2009, the US government provided an Undefinitized Contract Authorization, in this case for about $1.1 billion, to Lockheed Martin to produce F-16 aircrafts for Morocco.
 
Morocco also permits NASA to use the Ben Guerir airfield for emergency landings.
 
The 2000 U.S. census counted 38,923 Moroccan-Americans, settled mainly in urban areas, especially New York City, New England, the District of Columbia, California, and Texas, where they often established small businesses or entered professional fields.  By the late 1990s, a large proportion of Moroccans in the United States were students or recent university graduates.
 
 
Moroccan-American Organizations
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2009, US imports from Morocco totaled $468 million and US exports to Morocco were worth $1.6 billion.

 
In 2009, U.S. imports from Morocco were dominated by sulfur and non-metallic minerals ($161.8 million), semiconductors and related devices ($52.8 million), vegetables and preparations ($37.8 million), “apparel and household goods-cotton” ($30.2 million), and fish and shellfish ($28.3 million).
 
U.S. exports to Morocco in 2009 were led by “civilian aircraft, engines, equipment, and parts” ($333.6 million), fuel oil ($183 million), oilseeds and food oils ($143.5 million), corn ($123.8 million), and animal feeds ($77.3 million).
 
US aid to Morocco targets capacity building in collaboration with the government of Morocco for “democracy, education, and economic growth to meet the opportunities and challenges posed by the growing youth population.” For the 2011 FY, $42,5 million has been requested.
 
In order to promote peace and security, about $17.4 million has been requested for the 2011 FY. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will focus on primarily male youth who were released from prison or are at risk of imprisonment. The program hopes to redirect terrorist interests and affiliation to learning vocational and life skills. The International Military Education and Training program hopes to influence and educate military leaders while the Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs will help the government of Morocco investigate and combat terrorism.
 
About $10.7 million is requested for the 2011 FY for governing justly and democratically. USAID will support King Mohammed VI’s decentralization efforts and increase female and youth participation in government. The governance program will focus on: “increasing citizen participation in local governance; enhancing local government’s performance, specifically local government’s ability to provide better services to citizens; encouraging increased accountability and transparency in local governance; and supporting increased devolution and decentralization of authority.” Meanwhile, the civil society advocacy program will target civil society organizations who will aid community and youth in primarily urban and peri-urban areas.
 
To foster economic growth, $8 million has been requested for 2011. USAID will work with the Government of Morocco to develop public-private partnerships, aid in corruption reduction, and help improve the legal system.
 
For health and education, $6.5 million has been requested for 2011. The US hopes to improve education with a focus on middle schools in order to decrease the chances of a destabilizing youth force.
 
 
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Controversies

Morocco Expels U.S. Christians for Proselytizing

In March 2010, Morocco expelled 16 Americans who worked at the orphanage “Village of Hope.” They were accused of proselytizing Moroccans. It is legal to practice Christianity in Morocco, but proselytizing is not allowed. The Americans were forced to pack and leave within a few hours.
 
The US Consulate stated that Morocco is violating due process by refusing to provide hearings for those accused. In response, the US Ambassador to Morocco, Samuel Kaplan, expressed the US’s “distress” over the situation.
 
Expelled Americans (Casablanca US Consulate)
US Distressed by Morocco Expulsions (MoroccoBoard News Service)
 
(For materials related to Morocco’s role in Western Sahara, see the Debate section below.)
 
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Human Rights

The 2009 US State Department’s Human Rights Report stated that, “According to the constitution, ultimate authority rests with King Mohammed VI.…Citizens did not have the right to change the constitutional provisions establishing their monarchical form of government or the establishment of Islam as the state religion….Corruption was a serious problem in all branches of government.

 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Although the government outlaws and denies practicing torture, many NGOs report that security forces torture and abuse prisoners, especially during transport and pretrial detention.
 
Media resources and the Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH) reported fewer torture and abuse violations in comparison to previous years. However, one such report of August 24, 2009, highlights continued torture tactics. Independence activists, Ennaama Asfari and Ali El-Rubia, were sentenced to four months in prison and two months of suspension. NGOs reported that officers assaulted the two.
 
The 2006 law against torture mandates judges to “refer a detainee to a forensic medicine expert when the detainee or his or her lawyer requests it or if judges notice suspicious physical marks on a detainee.” Since September 2009, 21 medical examinations have been requested by judges and six by public prosecutors.
 
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions fall below international standards and are marked by “overcrowding, malnutrition, and lack of hygiene.” The government itself suggested that the prisons were holding 140 percent of their capacity.
 
The Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP) stated that 100 prisoners died in 2008. NGOs blame the deaths on deteriorating conditions and a lack of health care.
 
Denial of a Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution suggests an independent judiciary, the reality is the opposite. The judicial system is infested with corruption, while judges alternate between current and outdated laws to decide a ruling.
 
Additionally, violation of a right to a fair public trial occurs frequently, especially for those supporting the Western Saharan cause.
 
Freedom of Speech and Press
Although the law “generally” supports freedom of speech and press, the government does not follow this. The law does not allow criticism of Islam, the monarchy and territorial integrity.
 
During the latter half of 2009, there were increased media restrictions, totaling 56 cases for all of 2009.
 
In June 2009, three Arabic newspapers were fined $400,000 for “insulting a foreign head of state.” All three newspapers appealed, but  a Casablanca court rejected their appeals.
 
Two months later, the Ministry of the Interior seized editions of Tel Quel and Nichane even though they published opinion polls favored the king’s first decade in power. They were accused of violating the 1958 press code which permits seizing publications that express disrespect for Islam or the royal family.
 
Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Moroccan law penalizes corruption, but it is not properly implemented. Corruption is prevalent in all three branches of government.
 
The king acknowledged the lack of independence and corruption of the judiciary branch. Therefore, on August 21, he called for a reformation of the system to counter these flaws.
 
In 2008, 245 audits of government offices and service and 198 audits of local authorities occurred. Specific branches such as the health ministry were noted to be more corrupt than other branches, while individuals were also charged. On January 30, the Mayor of Meknes was removed from office on charges of mismanaging funds.
 
In 2009, a total of 117 officials were arrested for corruption, malfeasance, or abuse of office.
 
Child Labor
The government only effectively implements child labor laws in organized labor markets. The minimum age for employment is 15 years of age.
 
The government of Morocco released statistics stating that 94 inspections resulted in 39 citations of employed children under 15 years of age, while 616 investigations resulted in 19 cases of employed children between 15 and 18 years of age.
 
The 2006-2015 National Plan of Action for Children aims to decrease child labor through financial aid, raising awareness, and decreasing barriers that prevent school attendance.
 
In a separate human rights report on Western Sahara, the State Department concluded that human rights conditions generally converged with those in Morocco, although Human Rights Watch observed that Morocco’s bar on criticism of the country’s territorial integrity naturally criminalizes advocacy of Western Saharan independence. 
 
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Debate

Should the International Community Allow Morocco to Retain Control of Western Sahara?

 
The UN regards Western Sahara as a “non-self governing territory” with two nations, Morocco and Algeria, fighting over the territory. After Spain decided to decolonize, it signed a secret agreement with Morocco and Mauritania, two countries which had historical claims of sovereignty. However, the Algerian-backed Polisario government (which represents the Saharawi people) rebelled against the two countries, forcing Mauritania to withdraw and leaving Morocco to integrate the territory in 1979. Morocco is backed by US aid. The UN established MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in western Sahara) and has been encouraging negotiations and ceasefires. The region is rampant with human rights violations and suspicions of terrorism.
 
Regarding the conflict, the US’s stance has varied with each administration. The Obama administration, however, has reversed Bush’s policy to support Western Sahara’s autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Instead, Obama supports a separate Polisario state in Western Sahara.
 
Abdel-Rahim Al-Manar Slimi, The United States, Morocco and the Western Sahara Dispute (A report issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2009)
Issaka K. Souaré, Western Sahara: Is there light at the end of the tunnel? (A report issued by the Institute for Security Studies (South Africa), November1, 2007.)
Issaka K. Souaré, Abdelhamid El Ouali, and Mhamed Khadad, Western Sahara: Understanding the roots of the conflict and suggesting a way out (A report issued by the Institute for Security Studies (South Africa), December 17, 2008.)
 
Pro-Moroccan Annexation of Western Sahara:
The US and Morocco have been allies since 1776. Additionally, there is evidence that Polisario is linked to Islamist terrorism. Evidence includes the theft of inflammable substances and wires used for explosions by a Polisario member, Baba Ould Mohammed Bakhili. The movement is also marked by embezzlement and stagnant human rights improvements.
 
Claude Moniquet, The Polisario Front: A Destabilizing Force in the Region that is Still Active (A Report issued by the European Strategic Intelligence & Security Center, dated October 7, 2008.)
 
Anti-Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara:
The International Court of Justice stated that, “the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.” Evidence includes US intervention which may have helped Morocco conquer Spanish Sahara in 1975. In order to maintain rule over the territory, Morocco has denied citizens self-determination because the country did not want to risk losing the region.
 
Jacob Mundy, How the US and Morocco seized the Spanish Sahara (Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2006)
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Past Ambassadors

Samuel R. Gummere

Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1906
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jun 9, 1909
 
H. Percival Dodge
Appointment: May 12, 1909
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 10, 1910
 
Fred W. Carpenter
Appointment: Jun 2, 1910
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 2, 1912
 
Note: Maxwell Blake served as Chargè d'Affaires ad interim, Sep. 1912-Jul 1917. On Aug 9, 1917, Blake informed the Resident General of France in Morocco that from Jul 1, 1917, the American Legation at Tangier had been converted into an Agency and consulate General. The status of the mission was changed in 1925 to Diplomatic Agency and Consulate General, and in 1933, to Legation again.
 
Maxwell Blake
Appointment: Jul 20, 1917
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Apr 11, 1922
 
Joseph M. Denning
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Feb 10, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 3, 1924
 
Maxwell Blake
Appointment: May 14, 1925
Termination of Mission: Recall transmitted by note, Aug 3, 1940
 
John Campbell White
Appointment: Jun 19, 1940
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 6, 1941
 
Note: J. Rives Childs served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Feb 1941 - June 1945.
 
Paul H. Alling
Appointment: Jun 8, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 14, 1947
 
Edwin A. Plitt
Appointment: Jul 10, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 25, 1951
 
John Carter Vincent
Appointment: Jun 9, 1951
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Apr 16, 1953
 
Joseph C. Satterthwaite
Appointment: Jun 24, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 1, 1955
 
Julius C. Holmes
Appointment: May 23, 1955
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Jun 11, 1956
 
Note: Embassy Rabat was established on Jun 11, 1956, with William J. Porter as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim; upon its establishment Legation Tangier was changed in status to a Consulate General.
 
Cavendish W. Cannon
Appointment: Jul 21, 1956
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Jul 1, 1958
 
Charles W. Yost
Appointment: Jul 16, 1958
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Mar 5, 1961
 
Philip W. Bonsal
Appointment: May 11, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Aug 8, 1962
 
John H. Ferguson
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Aug 21, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Nov 24, 1964
 
Henry J. Tasca
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 6, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 8, 1969
 
Stuart W. Rockwell
Appointment: Mar 17, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1973
 
Robert G. Neumann
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Sep 20, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 11, 1976
 
Robert Anderson
Appointment: Jan 29, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 6, 1978
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Oct 11, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 22, 1979
 
Angier Biddle Duke
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 27, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 28, 1981
 
Joseph Verner Reed, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 21, 1985
 
Thomas Anthony Nassif
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 14, 1988
 
Michael Ussery
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 22, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 1989
 
Frederick Vreeland
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 2, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 1, 1993
 
Marc Charles Ginsburg
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 17, 1997
 
Note: Gary S. Usrey served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim Jan1997 to Feb 1998.
 
Edward M. Gabriel
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 12, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
 
Margaret deB Tutwiler
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 22, 2003
 
Thomas Riley
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 15, 2003
Termination of Mission: 2009
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Morocco's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Bouhlal, Rachad

President Barack Obama has welcomed a new ambassador from Morocco, which was the first nation to recognize the newly-independent United States in 1777. Mohamed Rachad Bouhlal was appointed ambassador by King Mohammed VI on December 6, 2011, and presented his credentials to President Obama on January 17, 2012.

 
Born in Rabat, Morocco, on August 26, 1951, Bouhlal earned his undergraduate degree in Mathematics in 1970 and then an MBA at the Rouen Business School in France. Returning to Morocco, in 1976 he joined the civil service, serving at the Office of Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Trade and Industry from 1976 to 1978, and as desk officer at the Europe Bureau of the Ministry of Trade and Industry from 1978 to 1979. Moving to the Ministry of Finance in 1979, he served as deputy director of the Trade Division, and then as head of the Commercial Division, at the Foreign Exchange Office from 1979 to 1988.
 
Shifting gears again, in 1988 Bouhlal became director of the Fishery Industries Department at the Ministry of Fisheries and Merchant Marine. In 1991, Bouhlal became secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, where he remained until 1994, when he became senior advisor to Prime Minister Karim Lamrani and Prime Minister Abdellatif Filali.
 
Bouhlal was appointed to his first foreign posting in 1996, as Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg. In 1999, Bouhlal was named secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, serving until 2004, when he became Ambassador to Germany. He served in Germany for seven years.
 
Bouhlal is a founding member of the Association Ribat Al Fath pour le développement durable (Ribat Association for Sustainable Development), a non-governmental organization active since 1986 in the Rabat region. He is a pilot and is currently the president of the Aéro Club Royal de Rabat (Rabat Royal Air Club). Bouhlal is also a past president and founder of the Wildlife Film Festival of Rabat. He speaks Arabic, French, and English, and is married with two children.
 
Interview with Mohammed Rachad Bouhlal (by Claire Bourdon, Cultural Diplomacy Research)  
Morocco’s New U.S. Envoy Faces Tough Task Ahead (by Hassan Masiky, MoroccoBoard))

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Morocco's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Morocco

Bush Sr, Dwight
ambassador-image

America’s original ally, the first to formally recognize the U.S. as a legitimate nation in 1777, will soon have a new ambassador. Nominated August 1 to serve as the next ambassador to Morocco, businessman Dwight L. Bush, Sr., was a leading campaign contribution bundler for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, raising more than $500,000. Bush is the president of D. L. Bush & Associates, a Washington, DC-based financial advisory and business consulting firm. 

 

Born circa 1958 in East St. Louis, Illinois, Dwight Bush was the fourth of five children raised by Charlie and Jessie Bush, who “committed their entire lives to only one mission: to make sure that their children could fully participate in the American Dream,” according to Bush at his Senate confirmation hearing. Describing East St. Louis as “a town of rich history whose boom and bust cycles reflect both the hope and tragedy of industrial America,” Bush pronounced himself “fortunate to have grown up with the working class families, the great teachers, and the mentors that helped me along the way.”

 

After earning a B.A. in Government at Cornell University in 1979, Bush joined Chase Manhattan Bank, where he enjoyed a 15-year career that included international corporate banking assignments in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, and corporate finance and project finance in New York and Washington, D.C.

 

After 15 years at Chase, Bush had risen to managing director in the Project Finance Group when he resigned and joined Sallie Mae Corporation, serving as vice president of corporate development from 1994 to 1997.

 

From 1998 to 2006, Bush worked as a principal at Stuart Mill Capital, LLC; vice president and chief financial officer at SatoTravel Holdings, Inc.; and vice chairman at Enhanced Capital Partners, LLC. 

 

Bush was president and CEO of Urban Trust Bank, Urban Trust Holdings and president of UTB Education Finance, LLC from 2006 through 2008. He also has worked as vice chairman of EntreMed, Inc. since 2010 and as a director since 2004. 

 

Bush has worked with a variety of philanthropic and education institutions, including Cornell University, Xavier University (Louisiana), the GAVI Alliance, National Symphony Orchestra, The Vaccine Fund, and the Joint Centers for Social and Economic Studies. He served as a director of JER Investors Trust Inc. until May 28, 2009.

 

A lifelong Democrat, Bush has made political contributions worth nearly $140,000 over the years, most of it to Democrats, including more than $65,000 to the Democratic National Committee and $5,000 to Barack Obama in 2011. His only donations to Republicans were $500 to Lamar Smith of Texas in 2001, $1,200 to David McSweeney of Illinois in 1998 and 2006, and $2,000 to John McCain in 2000.

 

Dwight L. Bush, Sr., is married to News Corp attorney Antoinette Cook Bush, with whom he has two children, Dwight Bush Jr. and Jacqueline Bush.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Biography (Business Week)

Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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Overview

Familiar to classic film buffs from the Hollywood movie Casablanca, Morocco is the United States’ oldest ally. Although always nominally independent, in fact Morocco was run by France from 1912 to 1956. Strategically situated at the Strait of Gibraltar at the Western end of the Mediterranean, Morocco plays an important role in world diplomacy as a moderate Arab nation. It is a long-time ally of the United States. Today, the country controls most of Western Sahara, which the UN declares a “non-self-governing territory.”

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Basic Information

Location: Located in Northwestern Africa, Morocco is bordered by Spain (across the Strait of Gibraltar) and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Algeria to the east, Western Sahara to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. With a total land area of 172,414 square miles, Morocco is slightly larger than California. Two mountain ranges, the Rif and the Atlas, occupy more than a third of its total area. The vast majority of the population resides between the Atlantic Ocean and those mountains, south and east of which lays the sparsely populated Sahara Desert. The largest city in Morocco is Casablanca, where more than 3.2 million Moroccans live, while Rabat, home to only 627,000, is the capital. Although Morocco has annexed the adjacent territory of Western Sahara, an independence movement is active there, and very few countries have officially recognized Moroccan sovereignty. 

 
Population: 34,859,364 (July 2009 est.)
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim (99%), Jewish (about 4,000 or <0.1%), Christian (about 5,000 or <0.1%).
 
Ethnic Groups: Berber-Arab (99%), Other (1%). 
 
Languages: Arabic is the official language. There are nine living languages spoken in Morocco, including Tachelhit, Tamazight, and Tarifit, which are Berber languages spoken by about 60% of the population. French, which is Morocco’s unofficial second language, is taught universally and serves as the primary language of commerce and government.
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History

The Berbers, a people who now inhabit the lands lying between the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, from Egypt to Morocco, were present in Morocco by the end of the second millennium BCE. They were primarily settled farmers, though some were nomadic. Phoenician traders established trading ports along Morocco’s Mediterranean coast in the twelfth century BCE. The northern coast of Morocco was part of the ethnically Phoenician Carthaginian Empire between the 5th century BCE and 146 BCE, when Rome defeated Carthage and extended Roman rule over the coast. In the 5th century, as Rome fell into decline, Morocco fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greeks in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains of Morocco remained in the hands of their Berber inhabitants. 

 
Arabs conquered the region in the 7th century, bringing their civilization and Islam, to which many of the Berbers converted. This became the first Islamic African state and was known as the Idrisid dynasty. While the Berbers converted to Islam, the Berber tribes retained their customary laws, and relations between them and the Arabs were fraught with tension. Nevertheless, Arab religious, social, and linguistic traditions became a central part of Moroccan culture. 
 
In the eleventh century, the first of several Berber dynasties overthrew Arab rule and established regional empires governed from Morocco. The last of these dynasties, the Alaouites, gained power in 1666, claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, and continues to rule the country today. 
 
In 1777, Morocco was the first state to recognize the sovereignty of the United States.
 
The Alaouite dynasty preserved its independence throughout the 18th and 19th centuries while other states in the region succumbed to Turkish, French, or British domination. However, towards the end of century, European imperial powers began to take advantage of Morocco’s instability and demanded economic concessions to protect their investments. Eventually, Morocco was forced to recognize a French Protectorate through the Treaty of Fez, signed in 1912. 
 
From a strictly legal point of view, Morocco remained an independent country ruled by the sultan. In fact, however, the sultan reigned but did not rule. Under the French protectorate, infrastructure investment linked the cities of the Atlantic coast to the hinterland, creating an integrated economic area in Morocco.
 
In 1944, the independence party Istiqlāl was founded, supported by Sultan Muhammad V (1927-1961). It demanded full independence. In 1953, France exiled Mohammed and replaced him with the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa. Ben Aarafa’s reign was widely perceived as illegitimate, and sparked further opposition to French rule. 
 
France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955 and have limited rule under the conditions that he accept democratic reform. By March 2,1956, Morocco had regained its full independence through a Spanish-Moroccan Agreement.
 
Sultan Mohammed, who took the title of King Mohammed V in 1957, formed a constitutional government that gives supreme executive power to a hereditary king, who appoints a prime minister. The constitution also created a House of Representatives and an independent judiciary. 
 
Upon Mohammed’s death in 1961, his son Hassan became King Hassan II. Hassan’s conservative rule, characterized by a poor human rights record, strengthened the Alaouite dynasty. The period from the 1960s to the late 1980s was labeled by the Moroccan opposition as the “years of lead” and saw many dissidents jailed, killed, exiled or forcibly disappeared.
 
Although Morocco technically had a multi-party political system, in 1965 King Hassan dissolved Parliament and ruled directly. When elections were eventually held, they were mostly rigged in favor of parties loyal to Hassan. This caused popular discontent, and protests and riots challenged the King’s rule.
 
In the early 1970s, Hassan survived two assassination attempts. Hassan finally began to relax his regime’s authoritarianism in the 1990s, when he extended many parliamentary functions, released hundreds of political prisoners, and set up a Royal Council for Human Rights to look into allegations of abuse by the State. Perhaps most significantly, the March 1998 elections were won by a coalition headed by opposition socialist leader Abderrahmane Youssoufi, who formed a government composed largely of ministers drawn from opposition parties. Prime Minister Youssoufi’s government was the first drawn primarily from opposition parties in decades, and also represented the first opportunity for a coalition of socialist, left-of-center, and nationalist parties to be included in a government.
 
On the international front, Hassan pursued an aggressive policy regarding the Western Sahara, until 1975 a colony of Spain bordering Morocco to the south. Ignoring a 1975 advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, which ruled that Morocco’s claim to the territory was not valid, Moroccan forces occupied Western Sahara in 1976. Since that time, although Morocco has maintained de facto control of most of Western Sahara, a movement of popular resistance, called the Polisario Front, has waged a continuous struggle for independence, and few countries have recognized Morocco’s sovereignty.
 
Upon King Hassan’s death in 1999, he was succeeded by his son Mohammed, who became King Mohammed VI. Mohammed has continued and accelerated his father’s liberalizing policies, promising to take on poverty and corruption, while creating jobs and improving Morocco’s human rights record. Mohammed is generally opposed by Islamist conservatives, and some of his reforms, such as a new code of family law granting women more rights, have angered fundamentalists. Mohammed VI also created the Fairness and Reconciliation Commission, which is supposed to protect and promote human rights in Morocco and to compensate victims of past violations. Although some welcomed this move as a move towards democracy, many were critical because the commission was not allowed to mention King Hassan by name, identify or prosecute human rights violators, criticize free speech violations, or report about human rights violations since 1999, when Mohammed was enthroned.
 
On May 16, 2003, the terrorist group, Salafiya Jihadiya, sent 12 suicide bombers to attack Jews in Casablanca, resulting in the death of 33 people. This led to a campaign against terrorism including not only Slafiya Jihadiya, but also the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, in which more than a thousand people were arrested by 2006.
 
In April 2008, two Moroccans who were involved with the 2003 Casablanca bombings were arrested by Spanish police. In the same month, nine prisoners, who were involved in the 2003 bombing, escaped from a prison north of Rabat.
 
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Morocco's Newspapers
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History of U.S. Relations with Morocco

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States, which Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ben Abdullah did on December 20, 1777. In 1787, the two countries concluded a Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed by Thomas Jefferson,John Adams, and Muhammad III, which became the first treaty ratified by the Congress under the Constitution. The treaty was renegotiated in 1836 and is still applicable today, representing the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history.

 
In 1821, Tangiers hosted the first American diplomatic property. Sultan Moulay Suliman had the structure built for the US and it served as residence for the US Legation and Consulate for 140 years. During WWII, it became the headquarters for US intelligence agents. It eventually was used for consul and Peace Corps offices. Today, it is a museum.
 
During the American Civil War, Morocco proved its diplomatic alliance with the US by assuring Washington that the Kingdom, “being a sincere friend of the American nation, would never aid or give countenance to the [Confederate] insurgents.” In 1862, two Confederate diplomats were arrested in Morocco after insulting the US and its flag.
 
In 1865, the US signed its first international convention with Morocco and nine European states. The Spartel Lighthouse Treaty discusses navigational aid on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
In the 1880 Conference of Madrid and the 1906 Algeciras Conference, the US defended Morocco’s sovereignty. During the Algeciras Conference, President Theodore Roosevelt played a pivotal role in solving the First Moroccan Crisis, a dispute between France and Germany over protectorate rights. The result was that the State Bank of Morocco was limited in its control of the Empire’s spending, the Moroccan government gained some control of European land ownership, and the Sultan retained control of the police in six port cities.
 
In 1912, after Morocco became a protectorate of France, American diplomats called on the European powers to exercise colonial rule in ways that guaranteed racial and religious tolerance.
 
During World War I, Morocco fought alongside the US at the battles of Blanc Mont, Chateau Thierry, and Soissons in 1917-1918.
 
With France occupied by the Germans during World War II (as dramatized in the Hollywood film Casablanca, the authorities in colonial French Morocco sided with the Axis Powers. When the Allies invaded Morocco on November 8, 1942, however, Moroccan defenders surrendered to the American and British invaders. At the Casablanca Conference, attended by President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Free French leader Charles de Gaulle in January 1943, Roosevelt privately assured Moroccan Sultan Mohammed V of U.S. support for Moroccan independence after the conclusion of World War II.
 
In the Cold War era, King Hassan II allied Morocco with the West generally, and with the United States in particular. There were close and continuing ties between Hassan II’s government and the CIA, which helped to reorganize Morocco’s security forces in 1960. Hassan served as a back channel between the Arab world and Israel, facilitating early negotiations between them.
 
In 1961, King Hassan II made the first of many diplomatic visits to the US, while President Bill Clinton flew to Morocco in July 1999 to attend King Hassan II’s funeral and meet his successor, King Mohammed VI.
 
Although the U.S. does not support Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, the closeness of the bilateral relationship has caused Washington to refrain from openly criticizing Morocco on this issue.
        
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Current U.S. Relations with Morocco

Famous Moroccan Americans:

Sports:
Khalid Khannouchi: Khannouchi is a marathoner born in Meknes, Morocco in December 1971 and moved to Brooklyn in 1992. He is the former world record holder for both the marathon and the road world best for the 20 km distance.
Business:
Hassan Samrhouni: The Moroccan-born activist serves as a goodwill ambassador between the two countries and is president and founder of the Washington Moroccan Club and CEO of Casablanca Travel and Tours. He moved to the US in 1982.
Marc Lasry: The billionaire is the manager, co-founder, and CEO of the hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. He was born in 1960 in Morocco and grew up in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Entertainment:
Sanaa Hamri: She is a music video and film director nominated twice in 2007 for the Black Reel’s Best Director and Image Award’s Outstanding Directing a Feature Film/Television – Comedy or Drama for Something New. She was born in Tangier, Morocco in 1975 and moved to Manhattan in 1996.
Shiri Appleby: The actress was born in Los Angeles to a Israeli mother of Moroccan ancestry. She was nominated in 1993 by Young Artist Awards for Best Young Actress in a Cable Movie for Perfect Family and in 2000 by Teen Choice Awards for the Choice Actress for Roswell.
Politicians:
John Fritchey: A Democrat, he has represented Illinois in the House of Representatives since 1996. He was born in Louisiana to an immigrant mother from Oujda, Morocco.
Science:
Paul Benacerraf: He worked in the field of philosophy of mathematics and teaches at Princeton University. He is known for his two papers What Numbers Could Not Be (1965) and Mathematical Truth (1973). He was born in Paris to an Algerian mother and Moroccan father.
 
 
In the 21st century Morocco and the U.S have maintained and strengthened their close ties in numerous ways including two US visits by King Mohammed in 2000 and 2002.
 
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morocco shared valuable information with the United States about al-Qaeda and denounced the attacks. Since then, security ties have continued to increase between the two nations.
 
For example, US intelligence cooperated with King Mohammed VI to avert terrorist attacks in the Strait of Gibraltar. Morocco is also instrumental in containing Salafist groups in West Africa under the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism initiative. Also, when Casablanca was the victim of terrorist bombings on May 16, 2003, the U.S. government offered Morocco the full resources of its military and intelligence community.
 
The U.S. granted Morocco Major non-NATO ally status in June 2004, which was expected to make it easier for American companies to sell arms to Morocco. Also in 2004, Morocco signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is administering a new $131.5 million USAID/Morocco assistance program for 2009-2013, whose aims are to improve the Moroccan business climate, enhance educational opportunities, and support democratization. Finally, the Peace Corps, which has been active in Morocco since its inception in 1963, currently has 260 volunteers in country working on environmental issues, health care, small business development, and youth programs.  
 
In 2004, Morocco and the US signed a Free Trade Agreement to help liberalize trade and promote economic reform.
 
In 2008 and 2009, the US government provided an Undefinitized Contract Authorization, in this case for about $1.1 billion, to Lockheed Martin to produce F-16 aircrafts for Morocco.
 
Morocco also permits NASA to use the Ben Guerir airfield for emergency landings.
 
The 2000 U.S. census counted 38,923 Moroccan-Americans, settled mainly in urban areas, especially New York City, New England, the District of Columbia, California, and Texas, where they often established small businesses or entered professional fields.  By the late 1990s, a large proportion of Moroccans in the United States were students or recent university graduates.
 
 
Moroccan-American Organizations
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2009, US imports from Morocco totaled $468 million and US exports to Morocco were worth $1.6 billion.

 
In 2009, U.S. imports from Morocco were dominated by sulfur and non-metallic minerals ($161.8 million), semiconductors and related devices ($52.8 million), vegetables and preparations ($37.8 million), “apparel and household goods-cotton” ($30.2 million), and fish and shellfish ($28.3 million).
 
U.S. exports to Morocco in 2009 were led by “civilian aircraft, engines, equipment, and parts” ($333.6 million), fuel oil ($183 million), oilseeds and food oils ($143.5 million), corn ($123.8 million), and animal feeds ($77.3 million).
 
US aid to Morocco targets capacity building in collaboration with the government of Morocco for “democracy, education, and economic growth to meet the opportunities and challenges posed by the growing youth population.” For the 2011 FY, $42,5 million has been requested.
 
In order to promote peace and security, about $17.4 million has been requested for the 2011 FY. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will focus on primarily male youth who were released from prison or are at risk of imprisonment. The program hopes to redirect terrorist interests and affiliation to learning vocational and life skills. The International Military Education and Training program hopes to influence and educate military leaders while the Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs will help the government of Morocco investigate and combat terrorism.
 
About $10.7 million is requested for the 2011 FY for governing justly and democratically. USAID will support King Mohammed VI’s decentralization efforts and increase female and youth participation in government. The governance program will focus on: “increasing citizen participation in local governance; enhancing local government’s performance, specifically local government’s ability to provide better services to citizens; encouraging increased accountability and transparency in local governance; and supporting increased devolution and decentralization of authority.” Meanwhile, the civil society advocacy program will target civil society organizations who will aid community and youth in primarily urban and peri-urban areas.
 
To foster economic growth, $8 million has been requested for 2011. USAID will work with the Government of Morocco to develop public-private partnerships, aid in corruption reduction, and help improve the legal system.
 
For health and education, $6.5 million has been requested for 2011. The US hopes to improve education with a focus on middle schools in order to decrease the chances of a destabilizing youth force.
 
 
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Controversies

Morocco Expels U.S. Christians for Proselytizing

In March 2010, Morocco expelled 16 Americans who worked at the orphanage “Village of Hope.” They were accused of proselytizing Moroccans. It is legal to practice Christianity in Morocco, but proselytizing is not allowed. The Americans were forced to pack and leave within a few hours.
 
The US Consulate stated that Morocco is violating due process by refusing to provide hearings for those accused. In response, the US Ambassador to Morocco, Samuel Kaplan, expressed the US’s “distress” over the situation.
 
Expelled Americans (Casablanca US Consulate)
US Distressed by Morocco Expulsions (MoroccoBoard News Service)
 
(For materials related to Morocco’s role in Western Sahara, see the Debate section below.)
 
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Human Rights

The 2009 US State Department’s Human Rights Report stated that, “According to the constitution, ultimate authority rests with King Mohammed VI.…Citizens did not have the right to change the constitutional provisions establishing their monarchical form of government or the establishment of Islam as the state religion….Corruption was a serious problem in all branches of government.

 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Although the government outlaws and denies practicing torture, many NGOs report that security forces torture and abuse prisoners, especially during transport and pretrial detention.
 
Media resources and the Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH) reported fewer torture and abuse violations in comparison to previous years. However, one such report of August 24, 2009, highlights continued torture tactics. Independence activists, Ennaama Asfari and Ali El-Rubia, were sentenced to four months in prison and two months of suspension. NGOs reported that officers assaulted the two.
 
The 2006 law against torture mandates judges to “refer a detainee to a forensic medicine expert when the detainee or his or her lawyer requests it or if judges notice suspicious physical marks on a detainee.” Since September 2009, 21 medical examinations have been requested by judges and six by public prosecutors.
 
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions fall below international standards and are marked by “overcrowding, malnutrition, and lack of hygiene.” The government itself suggested that the prisons were holding 140 percent of their capacity.
 
The Moroccan Observatory of Prisons (OMP) stated that 100 prisoners died in 2008. NGOs blame the deaths on deteriorating conditions and a lack of health care.
 
Denial of a Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution suggests an independent judiciary, the reality is the opposite. The judicial system is infested with corruption, while judges alternate between current and outdated laws to decide a ruling.
 
Additionally, violation of a right to a fair public trial occurs frequently, especially for those supporting the Western Saharan cause.
 
Freedom of Speech and Press
Although the law “generally” supports freedom of speech and press, the government does not follow this. The law does not allow criticism of Islam, the monarchy and territorial integrity.
 
During the latter half of 2009, there were increased media restrictions, totaling 56 cases for all of 2009.
 
In June 2009, three Arabic newspapers were fined $400,000 for “insulting a foreign head of state.” All three newspapers appealed, but  a Casablanca court rejected their appeals.
 
Two months later, the Ministry of the Interior seized editions of Tel Quel and Nichane even though they published opinion polls favored the king’s first decade in power. They were accused of violating the 1958 press code which permits seizing publications that express disrespect for Islam or the royal family.
 
Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Moroccan law penalizes corruption, but it is not properly implemented. Corruption is prevalent in all three branches of government.
 
The king acknowledged the lack of independence and corruption of the judiciary branch. Therefore, on August 21, he called for a reformation of the system to counter these flaws.
 
In 2008, 245 audits of government offices and service and 198 audits of local authorities occurred. Specific branches such as the health ministry were noted to be more corrupt than other branches, while individuals were also charged. On January 30, the Mayor of Meknes was removed from office on charges of mismanaging funds.
 
In 2009, a total of 117 officials were arrested for corruption, malfeasance, or abuse of office.
 
Child Labor
The government only effectively implements child labor laws in organized labor markets. The minimum age for employment is 15 years of age.
 
The government of Morocco released statistics stating that 94 inspections resulted in 39 citations of employed children under 15 years of age, while 616 investigations resulted in 19 cases of employed children between 15 and 18 years of age.
 
The 2006-2015 National Plan of Action for Children aims to decrease child labor through financial aid, raising awareness, and decreasing barriers that prevent school attendance.
 
In a separate human rights report on Western Sahara, the State Department concluded that human rights conditions generally converged with those in Morocco, although Human Rights Watch observed that Morocco’s bar on criticism of the country’s territorial integrity naturally criminalizes advocacy of Western Saharan independence. 
 
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Debate

Should the International Community Allow Morocco to Retain Control of Western Sahara?

 
The UN regards Western Sahara as a “non-self governing territory” with two nations, Morocco and Algeria, fighting over the territory. After Spain decided to decolonize, it signed a secret agreement with Morocco and Mauritania, two countries which had historical claims of sovereignty. However, the Algerian-backed Polisario government (which represents the Saharawi people) rebelled against the two countries, forcing Mauritania to withdraw and leaving Morocco to integrate the territory in 1979. Morocco is backed by US aid. The UN established MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in western Sahara) and has been encouraging negotiations and ceasefires. The region is rampant with human rights violations and suspicions of terrorism.
 
Regarding the conflict, the US’s stance has varied with each administration. The Obama administration, however, has reversed Bush’s policy to support Western Sahara’s autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Instead, Obama supports a separate Polisario state in Western Sahara.
 
Abdel-Rahim Al-Manar Slimi, The United States, Morocco and the Western Sahara Dispute (A report issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2009)
Issaka K. Souaré, Western Sahara: Is there light at the end of the tunnel? (A report issued by the Institute for Security Studies (South Africa), November1, 2007.)
Issaka K. Souaré, Abdelhamid El Ouali, and Mhamed Khadad, Western Sahara: Understanding the roots of the conflict and suggesting a way out (A report issued by the Institute for Security Studies (South Africa), December 17, 2008.)
 
Pro-Moroccan Annexation of Western Sahara:
The US and Morocco have been allies since 1776. Additionally, there is evidence that Polisario is linked to Islamist terrorism. Evidence includes the theft of inflammable substances and wires used for explosions by a Polisario member, Baba Ould Mohammed Bakhili. The movement is also marked by embezzlement and stagnant human rights improvements.
 
Claude Moniquet, The Polisario Front: A Destabilizing Force in the Region that is Still Active (A Report issued by the European Strategic Intelligence & Security Center, dated October 7, 2008.)
 
Anti-Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara:
The International Court of Justice stated that, “the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.” Evidence includes US intervention which may have helped Morocco conquer Spanish Sahara in 1975. In order to maintain rule over the territory, Morocco has denied citizens self-determination because the country did not want to risk losing the region.
 
Jacob Mundy, How the US and Morocco seized the Spanish Sahara (Le Monde Diplomatique, January 2006)
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Past Ambassadors

Samuel R. Gummere

Appointment: Mar 8, 1905
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 1906
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Jun 9, 1909
 
H. Percival Dodge
Appointment: May 12, 1909
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 10, 1910
 
Fred W. Carpenter
Appointment: Jun 2, 1910
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 2, 1912
 
Note: Maxwell Blake served as Chargè d'Affaires ad interim, Sep. 1912-Jul 1917. On Aug 9, 1917, Blake informed the Resident General of France in Morocco that from Jul 1, 1917, the American Legation at Tangier had been converted into an Agency and consulate General. The status of the mission was changed in 1925 to Diplomatic Agency and Consulate General, and in 1933, to Legation again.
 
Maxwell Blake
Appointment: Jul 20, 1917
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Apr 11, 1922
 
Joseph M. Denning
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Feb 10, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 3, 1924
 
Maxwell Blake
Appointment: May 14, 1925
Termination of Mission: Recall transmitted by note, Aug 3, 1940
 
John Campbell White
Appointment: Jun 19, 1940
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 6, 1941
 
Note: J. Rives Childs served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Feb 1941 - June 1945.
 
Paul H. Alling
Appointment: Jun 8, 1945
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 14, 1947
 
Edwin A. Plitt
Appointment: Jul 10, 1947
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 25, 1951
 
John Carter Vincent
Appointment: Jun 9, 1951
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Apr 16, 1953
 
Joseph C. Satterthwaite
Appointment: Jun 24, 1953
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 1, 1955
 
Julius C. Holmes
Appointment: May 23, 1955
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Jun 11, 1956
 
Note: Embassy Rabat was established on Jun 11, 1956, with William J. Porter as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim; upon its establishment Legation Tangier was changed in status to a Consulate General.
 
Cavendish W. Cannon
Appointment: Jul 21, 1956
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Jul 1, 1958
 
Charles W. Yost
Appointment: Jul 16, 1958
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Mar 5, 1961
 
Philip W. Bonsal
Appointment: May 11, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Aug 8, 1962
 
John H. Ferguson
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Aug 21, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left Morocco, Nov 24, 1964
 
Henry J. Tasca
Non-career appointee
Appointment: May 6, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 8, 1969
 
Stuart W. Rockwell
Appointment: Mar 17, 1970
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 1, 1973
 
Robert G. Neumann
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Sep 20, 1973
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 11, 1976
 
Robert Anderson
Appointment: Jan 29, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 6, 1978
 
Richard B. Parker
Appointment: Oct 11, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 22, 1979
 
Angier Biddle Duke
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 27, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 28, 1981
 
Joseph Verner Reed, Jr.
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Sep 28, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 21, 1985
 
Thomas Anthony Nassif
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 14, 1988
 
Michael Ussery
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 22, 1988
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 1989
 
Frederick Vreeland
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 2, 1991
Termination of Mission: Left post, Mar 1, 1993
 
Marc Charles Ginsburg
Appointment: Nov 22, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 17, 1997
 
Note: Gary S. Usrey served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim Jan1997 to Feb 1998.
 
Edward M. Gabriel
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Nov 12, 1997
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 1, 2001
 
Margaret deB Tutwiler
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Jul 12, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 22, 2003
 
Thomas Riley
Non-career appointee
Appointment: Dec 15, 2003
Termination of Mission: 2009
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Morocco's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Bouhlal, Rachad

President Barack Obama has welcomed a new ambassador from Morocco, which was the first nation to recognize the newly-independent United States in 1777. Mohamed Rachad Bouhlal was appointed ambassador by King Mohammed VI on December 6, 2011, and presented his credentials to President Obama on January 17, 2012.

 
Born in Rabat, Morocco, on August 26, 1951, Bouhlal earned his undergraduate degree in Mathematics in 1970 and then an MBA at the Rouen Business School in France. Returning to Morocco, in 1976 he joined the civil service, serving at the Office of Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Trade and Industry from 1976 to 1978, and as desk officer at the Europe Bureau of the Ministry of Trade and Industry from 1978 to 1979. Moving to the Ministry of Finance in 1979, he served as deputy director of the Trade Division, and then as head of the Commercial Division, at the Foreign Exchange Office from 1979 to 1988.
 
Shifting gears again, in 1988 Bouhlal became director of the Fishery Industries Department at the Ministry of Fisheries and Merchant Marine. In 1991, Bouhlal became secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, where he remained until 1994, when he became senior advisor to Prime Minister Karim Lamrani and Prime Minister Abdellatif Filali.
 
Bouhlal was appointed to his first foreign posting in 1996, as Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg. In 1999, Bouhlal was named secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, serving until 2004, when he became Ambassador to Germany. He served in Germany for seven years.
 
Bouhlal is a founding member of the Association Ribat Al Fath pour le développement durable (Ribat Association for Sustainable Development), a non-governmental organization active since 1986 in the Rabat region. He is a pilot and is currently the president of the Aéro Club Royal de Rabat (Rabat Royal Air Club). Bouhlal is also a past president and founder of the Wildlife Film Festival of Rabat. He speaks Arabic, French, and English, and is married with two children.
 
Interview with Mohammed Rachad Bouhlal (by Claire Bourdon, Cultural Diplomacy Research)  
Morocco’s New U.S. Envoy Faces Tough Task Ahead (by Hassan Masiky, MoroccoBoard))

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Morocco's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Morocco

Bush Sr, Dwight
ambassador-image

America’s original ally, the first to formally recognize the U.S. as a legitimate nation in 1777, will soon have a new ambassador. Nominated August 1 to serve as the next ambassador to Morocco, businessman Dwight L. Bush, Sr., was a leading campaign contribution bundler for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, raising more than $500,000. Bush is the president of D. L. Bush & Associates, a Washington, DC-based financial advisory and business consulting firm. 

 

Born circa 1958 in East St. Louis, Illinois, Dwight Bush was the fourth of five children raised by Charlie and Jessie Bush, who “committed their entire lives to only one mission: to make sure that their children could fully participate in the American Dream,” according to Bush at his Senate confirmation hearing. Describing East St. Louis as “a town of rich history whose boom and bust cycles reflect both the hope and tragedy of industrial America,” Bush pronounced himself “fortunate to have grown up with the working class families, the great teachers, and the mentors that helped me along the way.”

 

After earning a B.A. in Government at Cornell University in 1979, Bush joined Chase Manhattan Bank, where he enjoyed a 15-year career that included international corporate banking assignments in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, and corporate finance and project finance in New York and Washington, D.C.

 

After 15 years at Chase, Bush had risen to managing director in the Project Finance Group when he resigned and joined Sallie Mae Corporation, serving as vice president of corporate development from 1994 to 1997.

 

From 1998 to 2006, Bush worked as a principal at Stuart Mill Capital, LLC; vice president and chief financial officer at SatoTravel Holdings, Inc.; and vice chairman at Enhanced Capital Partners, LLC. 

 

Bush was president and CEO of Urban Trust Bank, Urban Trust Holdings and president of UTB Education Finance, LLC from 2006 through 2008. He also has worked as vice chairman of EntreMed, Inc. since 2010 and as a director since 2004. 

 

Bush has worked with a variety of philanthropic and education institutions, including Cornell University, Xavier University (Louisiana), the GAVI Alliance, National Symphony Orchestra, The Vaccine Fund, and the Joint Centers for Social and Economic Studies. He served as a director of JER Investors Trust Inc. until May 28, 2009.

 

A lifelong Democrat, Bush has made political contributions worth nearly $140,000 over the years, most of it to Democrats, including more than $65,000 to the Democratic National Committee and $5,000 to Barack Obama in 2011. His only donations to Republicans were $500 to Lamar Smith of Texas in 2001, $1,200 to David McSweeney of Illinois in 1998 and 2006, and $2,000 to John McCain in 2000.

 

Dwight L. Bush, Sr., is married to News Corp attorney Antoinette Cook Bush, with whom he has two children, Dwight Bush Jr. and Jacqueline Bush.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Biography (Business Week)

Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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