So the junta has recalled the Mauritanian ambassador to Israel for what it calls consultations, but is really a rather shrewd political move. For reasons that have been mentioned previously, it remains doubtful that the junta will sever ties with Israel, as many Mauritanians are demanding, quite emphatically (see this parliamentary statement). Still, the call back is interesting and relevant.
- Ahmed Ould Taguidi, the Ambassador, was recalled for consultations, without much elaboration from the Foreign Ministry. The Israelis, according to Taqadoumy, have reciprocated by calling back their own ambassador. The Israelis, however, have thus far had very little to say on the issue and did not announcing doing so. If the report on the Israelis responding is confirmed and true, the relevance greatly increases in the Arab context.
- This is relevant for the following geopolitical considerations: (1) The junta is using this opportunity to press the US for assistance in getting the Europeans off their case, and to revive the flow of aid coming from Washington. (2) The Jordanian Prime Minister recently told his country’s parliament that Jordan was prepared to review its relations with all countries, Israel included. The timing is therefore quite spectacular: It places pressure on the Jordanians take action. Egypt, too, is forced to consider movement on the Israel-relations front. It will be difficult for both countries, given their close ties to the United States and with Israel. If they do not do so, it will be to the pleasure and benefit of the more radical Arab states and Iran, as it will further impress the image of the “moderate” Arabs as weak puppet regimes. Qadhafi will smile, as will the Iranians and the Syrians. Or at least that is the idea from the Libyan side. Libya’s subterfuge and the junta’s interests intersect at the moment. (3) Most significantly, the Mauritanians are able to snatch at the money being waved from Libya and black mail the Americans all without crossing the red line. The implications are potentially very broad and the tactics typically Mauritanian. Whether or not it will work will be seen. It is a very fine example of Third World diplomacy, playing more powerful and influential actors off of one another with aim of maximizing gains at the bottom.
- This will benefit Gen. Abdel Aziz from the domestic standpoint. There can be no question about this. It will add to his street cred and raise populist fires. As a half measure, though, it may force him to carry on further with it, clipping the line. This is, still, doubtful though. Again, the idea is not to grievously irritate the Americans but rather to force them to reconsider their language and positioning on the coup, namely forcing the resumption of financial assistance and aid. The junta is increasingly cash strapped. So this move comes not from sentiment or emotion but from desperation and clever calculation. The Arab, Israeli and American responses will show whether or not the junta followed the proper order of operations.