In June, Morocco requested $1 billion in U.S.-funded upgrades to 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks. In an email interview, Yahia H. Zoubir, a professor of international relations and international management and the director of research in geopolitics at Euromed Management in Marseilles, France, discussed U.S.-Morocco defense relations.
WPR: What is the historical background of U.S.-Morocco defense relations, and how have they evolved?
Yahia H. Zoubir: The United States considers Morocco a friend and ally, with formal relations dating from the 1787 Treaty of Marrakech, the oldest unbroken treaty in U.S. foreign relations. Foreign military assistance to Morocco began immediately after Morocco’s independence in 1956 to keep it within the Western camp. The kingdom is strategically located in the northwest corner of Africa, bordering both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, including the Straits of Gibraltar. Taking advantage of this strategic location, the United States maintained military and naval bases there until 1978. In 1982, the United States signed a bilateral defense cooperation pact with Morocco that gives American air and naval forces emergency transit, staging and refueling rights at five Moroccan air and naval bases.