Courtesy Reuters

The Future of Tangier

THE archives of the American Legation at Tangier record that 74 years ago the Sultan of Morocco, disturbed at the predatory methods of certain European Powers who looked covetously in the direction of Morocco and particularly Tangier, expressed the desire to turn over his entire empire as a protectorate to the United States. We were not then in the mood to assume transatlantic responsibilities and courteously declined the offer. In 1942 French Morocco and Algeria were occupied by American troops, following the failure of France to protect her North African empire. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that after this war the Sultan of Morocco might again make a somewhat similar proposition to the United States. What are the American interests in Morocco, and more particularly in the enclave known as the International Zone of Tangier -- an area of about 145 square miles with a population of about 100,000? What are the French, British and Spanish interests?

Strangely enough, although the United States has never recognized the Tangier Zone as a special entity, we played a leading rôle in bringing about its internationalization. As far back as 1797 we supported our consular officers in their efforts to obtain international control of public health and quarantine measures in Tangier. In fact, the consular and diplomatic corps of Tangier served as a Sanitary Council for the city from 1840 until the International Statute was put into effect in 1925, and after 1929 the United States took over sole control of the remaining functions of this body. The powers of this Council had finally become so great that it could supply water, clean and pave streets, provide a sewage system and even control the slaughterhouses and markets.

In similar fashion the United States in 1865 joined with nine other Powers to administer the lighthouse at Cape Spartel through an International Commission. This lighthouse, eight miles from Tangier and some 30 miles from Gibraltar, has been administered internationally for three-quarters of a century, and every year the Congress of the United

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.