Mauritania recalls Ambassador to Israel

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

32 thoughts on “Mauritania recalls Ambassador to Israel

  1. I agree with the analysis. As you said earlier, if Aziz cuts the ties the benefits to the junta will be short-lived as everyone will forget about it. They may even not see one penny from Gadhafi as he may ask for something else. He has already gained from the Mauritanian move as everyone will know soon it is the making of Libya. Whether Egypt and Jordan cut the ties with Israel (they will not), it is immaterial for Gadhafi’s case. I do believe nothing will move further as Ould Teguedi will be kept home until the elections are over and then things go back to normal.

    Aziz is taking great risks for his toppling by his friens in the army if he thinks to resign from the military and hand-ovr power to a “friend” while running for presidency. Because of the issue of seniority within the army now, he has no other option but to let Ghazwani to keep the house. Ghazwani may just keep the house for him or give it back to the civilians. It is not the third general who will try to resist.

    Great post, Kal

  2. interesting. also revealing, to what extent the abdelaziz junta has burned its relations with the west right now.

    and tidinit, very good point about ghazouani.

  3. I think all is quiet on the euro side, everyone trying to guess what really the French are up to. No hear from the AU that put a deadline into late February and that certainly make some people think that Ping and his bosses are joking, while they are not. If I were Aziz, I will rush the election to 25 February before the AU deadline is up. What difference it makes if he does the election in May/June as everyone knows the thing is done for him and the military stay in power. You can only fool intelligent people once (2007).

  4. See the attached link (a journal from Morocco). Unbelievable that while people have something to do to survive, states keep fighting over irrelevant issues. Certain there is not a single Mauritanian prisoner in Polisario or Algeria jails. The case is over after Haidallah gave up Sahara some 30 years ago. Bringing this now in the press is meant to stir trouble and I don’t know how this would help Aziz win the elections. No one will buy this storyline in Nouakchott. We know that Algeria is against the ccoup and so Mali, Niger, the AU, the EU, the US and even myself. Morocco is not helping her friends in Nouakchott by creating trouble between my country and the big brother up north. We still have not solved who did us Lemgheity, El Ghallawiya and Tourine and now this.

    Any of you guys have a reading on this and why? Difficult to keep track of key things when you have to face so many other things at the same time.

  5. The only vocal party that helped the junta come with the idea of Aziz running broke away. The junta is now really alone: all the opposition against it and the “irreversible” damage to France and to the US done to itself in cutting loose Israel, with almost only Libya on the friendship side for the moment only. My guess is that the junta has not yet won its battle.

  6. off-topic, but still very interesting: The “Rapport des Etats Généraux de la Démocratie“.
    There are some rather scary parts (role of the military & constitutional changes), but some good points as well (reconsideration of the status of parties).
    I agree that the constitution of 1991 is pretty bad, as it was done by copy and paste. I do believe that a constitution that evolves from a national discussion (with all actors involved) and the agreed upon by a referendum actually may lead citizens to start caring about it. And I do belief that narrowly defining the role of the military (protecting the country and it’s borders and not intervening in politics), outlawing coups and facilitating resistance by citizens in the constitution can be very useful. However, I do not believe that anything but the repetition of 2005-2008 or even worse a democracy à la 1992-2005 or even worse (with domestic actors finally getting angry and active) to a democracy à la algérienne will be the result of a discourse led and dominated by the junta.

  7. Kal,

    I wish you can write more on Mauritania and tell us your views on how things will evolve with the outcome of the “Etats Généraux de la Démocratie” which minutes are out since yesterday.

    No one knows for sure whether Ahmed Ould Daddah has divorced the junta since he knows now that he will have no chance to regain the Presidency that was stolen from him in 1992 and more recently in 2007 through the elections “tripatouillés”by Aziz.

    I fully agree with you that the Junta needs more Ahmed than Ahmed needs them et pourtant no one is thinking in those terms, even Ahmed himself. The junta lost it all: Ahmed, Messaoud, the FNDD, the US, the EU, the AU and France that is certainly trying to figure out how to save face before the AU Summit mid-January, where the Mauritanian and Guinean coups will be discussed. I guess by Saturday everyone would have forgotten Aziz’s bravo in cutting Israel loose (if he can and illegaly you can’t) and then condemnation from the international community will be there. Algerian Foreign Minister was clear yesterday in his statement that the position of his country towards coups will not change and that should worry Aziz.

  8. Kal, about your point 2)1), maybe the junta thinks it is smart, but I doubt it can happen. Especially considering the current relationship between the USA and Europe, it is unlikely that the EU or its main members (understand France, Germany, Spain and so on) will change their position for the nice eyes of Condoleeza Rice. And I doubt it will change anytime soon with Obama in charge… Everyone keeps repeating here that the US foriegn policy might change in style but is unlikely to change in reality (except about Iraq, probably). So the Europeans are happy to smile at Obama but won’t give him anything without anything else in exchange. Especially not on Mauritania, which is considered France and Spain “chasse gardée”.

  9. Let me put down my thoughts on 2.1. as well: I don’t think Mauritania is in a position to pressure the US. Their (quite successful) strategy so far has been to influence the way the US sees Mauritania: a huge country with uncontrollable borders that neighbours states where a shitload of mean terrorists roam the desert and good intentions to be an ally in the war on terror. With quite a few they-said-to-be Islamists arrested under Taya and by establishing relations with Israel they even managed to become friends with George W. What I’m trying to say here is that breaking ties with Israel will absolutely lead in the wrong direction for the junta. Playing the friendly and stable nation amongst a menacing environment helped Taya to put of domestic pressure and the call for democratisation. The adjective ‘stable’ has long lost its inappropriateness and breaking off relations with Israel does not look ‘friendly’ at all.

  10. I agree with all regarding point two: I don’t think it will have the desired result. Very unlikely, at the very least because of the country’s obscurity.

    As for Obama; I don’t expect any serious change from his administration on Mauritania or anything else.

    So I am pretty convinced that the results of this will not be good. I think it was a pretty good effort at overreaching.

  11. Obama will not change anything from Bush’s policy in the Sahara-Sahel region, besides fixing few mis-understandings with Morocco and Algeria. Mauritania? Forget it: too small and too geographically strategic to let it slip out of attention. It shows with the attitude of the current US ambassador to Mauritania hiding in Washington and shooting a katshuiska to the junta from time to time to keep them on their knees and tell them not to do anything stupid. The coup is a bad precedent for the gulf of Guinea region that will be providing 15 to 28% of energy to the US in the near future. The US does not play with that as it has to compete with China, France and Russia that is to build a military base in Libya. That is why the US went cucu after Gadhafi/Putine announced the Russian base and immediately proceeded with Flintock II (2008) in the middle of Mali. Bloody oil and gas is to blame. We were tranquillos with our poverty until it was announced the discory of oil and gas offshore Mauritania in 2001/2003. Then manipulating terrorism started and you know the rest. I still believe in the storyline of Gèze, Mellah and Keenan …. I know Alle does not agree on this.

  12. Tidinit, the cridem links you’re sending always lead me to the commentary section… Additionally I would like to ask you to further explain your points. I don’t really get it. Neither whether the US cares about Mauritania or not, nor what you’re saying about oil, international relations, etc… Don’t get me wrong. It sounds really, really interesting, I’m simply overwhelmed or a bit slow in mind and would fancy a bit more explanation in case you have the time… Cheers

  13. hannes,

    Sorry. But I thought that the comments section in Cridem is always linked to the article itself (article on top and comments on the bottom).

    What I am saying is based on some research here and there and lots of preople are of different opinion. When it comes to oil, sub-regional strategy and the manipulation of djuhadists and touaregs, I rely on some articles or documents that can be found in http://www.algeria-watch or some other reading sources you can have access to it through dedicated libraries, such as 5 to 6 articles from Jermy Keenan in the review of African Political Economy. I thought all here were aware of the different views on the event occuring since 2003 in the sahara-sahel region. More on this later. Regards. tidinit

  14. Tidinit. Thanks a lot. I just scanned through a few of those Keenan papers. Quite interesting points and a couple of them were new to me as well. I come from an institutionalist / economist / (domestic) policy background, thus I tend to blank out those international relations (conspiracy) theories. I guess in the case of Mauritania (or that region in general) I shouldn’t do that….

  15. That is quick hannes, finding Keenan’s papers. Almost same background as you. For the conspiracy theory stuff, don’t blank out the whole area yet.

    For Mauritania, it will not do to itself Tourine, lemgheity and El Ghallawiya, with always the emir or emirs hiding in the North between Mali and Algeria. Particularly when you know one of the “emirs” has been “killed” in the press several times according to “security sources” not wishing to be named. The same emir appears when there is need to bang on Mauritania. Keenan who has studied the area for more than 40 years knows a bit more than most of us and he has his “local” sources among the tribes in that land. We believe it is a conspiOnly if his sources are to mislead him. But who would do that?

    (1) What do you think about this:

    (2) My first reading while trying to find some “truth” after the killing of the French tourists in December 2007. Before I trusted what was said by the press about AQMI, but now I am more careful:

    With your reading of Keenan, we are at the same level. Adding some posts from this site, you are likely to be on top of those international relations (conspiracy) theories. You can even predict who will be hit next in theory, with some (bad) luck.

  16. Kal,

    The opinion in Mauritania is that there will be no cut in diplomatic relationships between Mauritania and Israel. As you have predicted it rightly, there will be nothing besides waiting for the Ghaza crisis to fade. Below something from Cridemand I don’t know if they got it from your hypothesis that they might have picked up. It takes time for the press home to get things sink in. Don’t forget your next door’s cousins.

    Check the site “Temoust”. Seems the Tuareg-ATT relationships is going sour and Gadhafi is caught red-handed lying in Bamako (check an article from le Soir de Bamako in Temoust’s site). Algeria and Libya are using the Tuareg problem like a cous-cous dish: you manipulate, pass me the dish to manipulate too, my brother. Like for the Sahara crisis, ATT and the Tuareg should find a way to reach peace. Neither the US, France, Algeria or Libya can help. Sustainable solutions require sustainable agreements. The Tuaregs are not bandits as everyone seems to let the opinion believes. I think it is a struggle ….


    Faut pas rêver

    La convocation de l’ambassadeur mauritanien en Israël rentre dans le cadre d’un jeu politique que ould Abdel Aziz a voulu faire pour désorienter les esprits des mauritaniens de la crise politique que vit notre pays.

    Donc faut pas rêver, la Mauritanie n’a jamais eu l’intention de couper ses relations avec l’Etat hébreu, même si elle a convoqué son ambassadeur. L’opinion nationale se demande qu’est ce qui va suivre cette convocation et, du coup, les esprits sont orientés vers une autre problématique qui n’a rien avoir avec la crise politique.

    Le porte parole du gouvernement israélien a fait hier samedi une déclaration précisant que la convocation de ould Teguedi ne signifie pas la rupture des relations israélo mauritaniennes.

    Et que ce dernier regagnera Israël, une fois que les choses se seront calmées.

  17. Tidinit,

    I’m glad you brought up the Tuareg issue. The next post I am writing is dealing with this very issue, as it relates to Mauritania, which has also joined the “meal” to keep on with your cous-cous analogy.

  18. Kal,

    Like we say in lekhyam (moor bedouin camp), Allah Yisselmak. Bringing in Mali and the tuareg in the geographical scope of your blog is very useful as Mali has become the closest football field for our countries’ leaders and we all need to keep an eye there. Cheers. tidinit

  19. That is almost certain Hannes. Kadafi burned our flag one day and said he aoplogized the next day. But immediately the PM goes there. Why the hurry with someone who has burned your flag a day or two ago? It is money. As the old joke says; when you see a swiss banker jumping from the 50th floor, just jump after him: the banker is jumping after the money.

  20. The ties with Israel were definitively not cut as Kal predicted. Iran visits the General yesterday, promising support and Shell, on the footprints of Total, signed today a deal with the county to exploit gas. On top of this the General going to Doha to attend an Arab Summit of some sort. Conflicting signals for those mauritanians looking democracy to prevail, looking at the front door while other things are rushed through the back door. Total and Shell are definitively part of the EU that has condemned the putsh. This is the perfect case of crossing, double crossing and pretending a clean attitude. The African Union (AU) has a long way to go to restore its credibility. Never heard a protest from the AU on this and someone wonders if this institution can ever be taken seriously. Mali, Niger, Nigeria, probably Cameroon, why not Algeria, and other countries will fall sooner or later to military transitions. All this to compete with the Chinese? What is the interest besides oil and gas?

  21. I love that he main reasons the Qataris brought the Mauritanians to the summit was to have a result, embarrassing the Saudis and Egyptians. I still am not convinced that the Mauritanians will cut of relations all together, given the potential consequences (I think they are playing hard ball). If they do it will be very, very significant in their foreign policy going forward.

    Anybody have a link to the Aljazeera story on this? I am told it quoted no Mauritanians at all…

  22. By the way, also keep in mind Turkey’s attitude on this; Erdogan’s language is quite sharp. Will post about this in relation to Turkey’s relationship with Algeria probably by Sunday.

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