The following guest post by Mrs. Marie-Danièle Zartman is the story of one man's – or one Franco-American couple's – love affair with Morocco. Dr. Zartman, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) and author of countless books on conflict resolution, negotiation, and Morocco, recently stepped down after a quarter century of presiding over TALIM's board. The Zartmans met when he served in the US Navy in Kenitra, the former Port Lyautey base that dated back to the Operation Torch landings. It was the late Fifties, and Morocco had just regained its independence from France.
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I met William Zartman, 53 years ago, he was a young Navy Officer serving in
Kenitra. Anyone who knows him knows that when William Zartman has an idea he
has an idea…so I became THE ONE. We were married by the Caïd in Kenitra in 1960.
serving in Kenitra, he met 2 young Moroccan officers belonging to the first graduating
class of officers after Moroccan independence, and thanks to them, he gained
even more understanding of the country he likes so much.
They took us on one of
our most adventurous and funny experiences in the country. These new friends
invited us to meet them in Azzi Tantan, far down in the desert, to attend a big
celebration organized to welcome King Hassan II at the base. We left toward the
Sahara from Kenitra in our Morris Minor and arrived alone in the desert at a
point with many and all roads leading to nowhere!! Which one to take? In the
end, we arrived in Tantan just as a sand storm began to blow and found
ourselves in the camp where an enormous boat made of concrete was sitting in
what was supposed to be a oued. An
astonishing sight to say the least, but then the big celebration began and to
our surprise we turned out to be the
honored guests as we made it to the base but the King did not, as his plane
could not land!!
In 1987, with his
profession and passion still involving him in Morocco, he became the President
of TALMS, now TALIM, and put a lot of energy, time and organization in this
With the help of then
director Thor Kuniholm and his wife Elisabeth living in the American Legation
of Tangier, they organized many memorable conferences including the annual “The
April Seminar," some of which I attended.
of the most elaborate, I recall, was organized to celebrate the Bicentennial of the American presence in Tangier, for which the 6th Fleet came to port. To the
surprise and delight of the Tangerois,
a concert was given in the Grand Socco followed by dancing under the stars.
our life we have travelled intensively in Morocco crisscrossing the country
many times visiting the well known sites of Fes, Marrakech, and to many other
historical and beautiful sites off the tourist maps, such as a small village
called M'Zora, the "Stonehenge of Morocco," about 2 hours from
brief, there were many years of challenging work with many rewards. One
very great reward, as a matter of fact, came in June 2000, when His Majesty
King Mohamed VI recognized the work done on behalf of Morocco by William. He
recognized his publications on The Moroccan Sahara and his work with the
Legation benefiting the city of Tangiers among others. William was then
elevated to be Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, a great honor well
these activities through these 40 years contributed to a profound
understanding, respect, and love for this wonderful country; this wonderful
country of Morocco, which in my opinion, should serve as an example of
political and economical success to the rest of the Middle East.
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*Wikipedia has a nice entry on the Order of Ouissam Alaouite, noting that it was awarded by Sultan Mohammed V after Operation Torch to General George Patton.