Below is a quick and dirty translation (forgive errors) of a communique from 23 August put out by the Sawab Party, a small Mauritanian Ba’thi party. It is notable because it represents one of the few political parties in Mauritania to have continuously shown support for Qadhafi. Together with a number of other small (some are tiny, actually) Arab nationalist and Islamist parties Sawab joined a pro-Qadhafi alliance of Mauritanian parties in 2009/2010, the Nationalist Islamic Action Front. Some of these parties did condemn violence against Libyan demonstrators early on and tended to also criticize al-Jazeera more harshly for “exaggerations” and treating Qadhafi’s government unfairly. Some went as far as to condemn Libyan protesters outrightly. But the outlook in this communique is not representative of the Mauritanian political class or opposition in general. Most major opposition parties ranging from Ahmed Ould Daddah’s RFD to Jamil Ould Mansour’s Tawassoul announced their “recognition” of the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya early in the summer and organized marches at the Libyan embassy in Nouakchott at the start of the Libyan uprising, even attempting to use it to rally their supporters against President Ould Abdel Aziz, who had been quite close to Qadhafi. Even if they opposed NATO’s involvement in the conflict, most Mauritanians seem to have been sympathetic to the rebel cause in Libya.
The party has a minor following and its position on Libya is not, in general, popular among Mauritanians. Many Mauritanians, especially young people, especially young people looked at Qadhafi warily because of his very public support for Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s 2008 coup (he infamously told a stadium of Mauritanian politicians and citizens that there was “no difference between coups and elections” since both were politically disruptive; this ended up scuttling his ability mediate between the opposition and the junta). But one should remember that Qadhafi had supporters in many parts of Africa and the Sahel. In Mauritania, pro-Qadhafite political parties were not the only ones with links to the old Tripoli: Mauritanian ministers and parliamentarians even received Libyan largesse and spent significant time in Tripoli seeking money and support. It used to pay to be in the good graces of Qadhafi as it was once profitable to be a Saddamist. Nowadays those comrades will need to make new friends.
FROM: Sawab Party [Mauritania]
DATE: 23 August, 2011
The national scene was surprised on the evening of Sunday, 21 August, after 156 days of NATO and Qatari aircraft continuously bombing the brotherly Libyans with rockets, a new chapter in a poorly performed play opened, fooling many of the regimes and political parties of different orientations and positions in the political majority and the opposition after the fabrications, weakness and marginalization became clear in the decrees of client known as known as the “Transitional Council”, as Sayf al-Islam al-Qadhafi emerged and completely eliminated the last bits of credibility it had.
Read a quick overview of the play, laying out the facts such as:
- That what is happening in Libya is a western plot to seize the situation and rob the Libyan people’s oil, carried out by NATO crusaders and a media role assigned to al-Jazeera by the princes of Qatar, who in the past acted as a springboard for American forces to occupy and destroy Iraq [. . .];
- That so-called Libyan “Transitional Council” are nothing but pawns moved forward and backward by NATO and have a common hatred for the Arab and Islamic nations, intellectual renaissance and economic development;
- That this task was assigned by western Crusaders and the two colonial powers in the Arab world: France and Britain who try to create models for rulers more closely related to colonialism, after exhausting the utility of earlier clients.
Based on the foregoing, we in the Sawab Party condemn this blatant aggression on the country of the Libyan people, and we confirm what we have said previously that revolution and political change correctly represent the popular demands urgent in all Arab countries but that it will not come through occupation, tanks and bombing and destruction by foreign powers, which is why we urge all innovators and political trends in the Arab world to think of urgently convening a conference that draws set parameters by which governments in the Arab world can enhance democracy and political pluralism away from the tutelage of NATO and the Arab regimes associated with it, as we call upon the brotherly Libyan people to stick to national unity and remain aware of the risks of civil war, which stirs in these moments, and to consider resistance to imperialism and its agents as the only solution to getting out of the current crisis and establishing genuine democratic institutions.
23 Ramadan 1432
23 August 2011
Office of Information