Dispute Mars Emir of Qatar’s Mauritania Visit

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Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (L) and Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz review an honour guard upon his arrival on 5 January 2012 in Nouakchott. (Photo: AFP - Ahmed El-Hadj)

By: Al-Mokhtar Ould Mohammad

Published Monday, January 9, 2012

Despite signing 13 cooperation agreements with the Mauritanian government, the emir of Qatar left the country without an official send-off.

Nouakchott – The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, paid a formal visit to Mauritania last Thursday and signed several bilateral agreements meant to improve economic ties between the North African state and the oil-rich Emirate.

However, various political disputes between the two countries quickly caused tensions. The emir, who received a warm welcome upon his arrival, left the country only a few hours later without any formal farewell ceremony.

This has led to speculation on the reasons why the normal protocol concerning formal ceremonies, that is strictly adhered to during such visits, was not followed.

It was no secret that the signing of the economic agreements was not the sole reason behind the emir’s visit.

Qatar and Mauritania are at odds over a number of issues, particularly Doha’s hosting of ousted Mauritanian President Muawiya Ould Tayeh.

Furthermore, foreign policy positions of the current Mauritanian government contradict Qatari positions, particularly with regard to Libya and the Syrian crisis.

Nouakchott opposed NATO intervention in Libya, which Doha backed.

President Mohammad Ould Abdel Aziz was among the African leaders who worked to the last minute in order to find a settlement between Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels in Libya.

In regard to Syria, Mauritania’s current government is a strong ally of the Syrian-Iranian axis. This alliance was established following the cancellation of normalization policies with Israel that existed during the rule of the Ould Tayeh.

Several Arab nationalist Mauritanian parties that make up the Support of the Resistance and Defense of Syria Front have issued a statement condemning the visit of the emir to their country.

“It is with great regret that we follow the conspiracy of the emir and his band against the security and stability of our Arab countries, and his open and blatant involvement in striking against the resistance centers and conspiring against its liberation project in order to serve the Zionist-American-Western project that aims to tear our Arab countries apart.

“They want to allow this project to remain in command and in control of our national destinies in order to sustain their looting and exploitation.”

Mauritanian observers believe that there are political dictates behind the cooperation agreements, which they see as an attempt to influence the Mauritanian position on Libya and on counter-terrorism in the Sahara, in addition to convincing Nouakchott to disengage from its strategic alliance with the Syrian-Iranian axis.

The package of 13 agreements signed by the two heads of state covers banking, employment, the environment, and housing, among other issues.

However, sources close to the Mauritanian presidential palace stated that “all these political issues were discussed openly and frankly.”

They denied reports indicating that there had been a conflict over certain aspects of the agreements which resulted in the emir’s departure without any formal farewell.

These sources explained that “the reasons behind the disagreement are related to internal Mauritanian affairs. The emir demanded that the Mauritanian president launch democratic reforms, particularly reconciliation with the Islamic current led by Sheikh Mohammad al-Hassan Ould Dedew.”

This raised the Mauritanian president’s ire, who viewed this as an unacceptable interference in the country’s internal affairs.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

A big well done to Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to do this to the emir of Qatar is just the bravest thing ever, just love it! Qatar won the world cup, has al jazeera TV and was involved in promoting propaganda in a few arab countries, now the emir hamad thinks he can run the show, what an indiot!
You will be next mr Emir Hamad, watch out dude...
Duncan Fairley, Qatar National Bank

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