As a part of the dialogue established by the Arab Maghreb Union’s visit to Nouakchott, the junta sent a special envoy to Algiers yesterday. Bouteflika refused to meet with the Mauritanian representatives, including FM M. Abdallah Ould Benhmida and Col. Mohammed Ould Cheikh Mohammed Ahmed, instead delegating the task to Abdelkader Messahel, the head of African and Maghrebine Affairs in the Foreign Ministry. (The official excuse was that Bouteflika was too tired to meet, having recently returned from Iran; it might not have been a deliberate spurn, and could be due to other factors related to the President’s favorite extracurricular activity, especially after two days in the Nonalcoholic Republic; the other possibility is of course that he wanted to send a message to Morocco.) Messahel informed the Mauritanians of “the irrevocable position of Algeria, which condemns the change of power in violation of constitutional rules,” condemning the coup outrightly for the first time. Commenters on Ech-Chorouk‘s story capture the irony of Algerian leaders demanding good conduct from foreign leaders rather well.
Algerian reports do not mention General Ghazouani, whom Taqadoumy reports traveled to Algiers with the envoy. Taqadoumy also reports that the Mauritanians were recieved by the Algerian Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci and by Messahel. The Algerians may deliberately be attempting to present a different image of the meeting. (Taqadoumy also confirms the story about the Moroccans sending intell. chief to Nouakchott to deliver a “verbal message” from the King.)
The Algerians also called for a restoration of constitutional order by means of the country’s pre-existing democratic institutions, echoing the EU policy.
El Moudjahid‘s editorial (titled “Algeria, an active diplomacy: values and noble principles”) praises Boutefilka’s trips to China and Iran, but makes no reference to Mauritania, focusing mainly on “shared values” and dialogue among civilizations. The published version of the joint statement from Tehran makes no reference to Mauritania. Important diplomatic stories in El Moudjahid include a report on Algeria’s efforts to boost agricultural cooperation with Peru, the receipt of the new Palestinian Ambassador, and PM Belkhadem’s trips to Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. And let’s not forget Bouteflika’s comments on the passing of Mahmoud Darwish. Liberte seems to make no mention of the topic, El Watan is quiet. Algeria’s Olympic achievements are given top priority in most papers.
Folks at the UN are saying that the Security Council agenda on Mauritania is being driven by the US. They fear that only China or Russia can save the country from a condemnation. Given their warm relations with China, if there is a veto, it would come from there. Russia has condemned the coup, and I would bet on them abstaining or following the Franco-American line (but you never know; the Axis of Sovereignty could pull another 11 July shake up.)