A former independent French colony since 1960, Mauritania has been ruled in recent years by an alternation of military and civilian governments. In 2005, after more than twenty years, the military regime of Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya ended in a coup, which then saw the military return power to a civilian government. Moreover, already at the beginning of the nineties, under the Taya regime, a Constitution had been approved and parties had been legalized. The 2007 presidential elections, considered free by international observers, led to the victory of Sidi Mohamed Cheikh Abdallahi. The democratic transition was however halted in August 2008, when General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz took power in a new coup.
With the return to democracy, the country is slowly emerging from international isolation. The African Union (Au) lifted the sanctions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank restarted aid programs and relations with the European Union (Eu) have significantly improved. For several years Mauritania has entered into agreements with Brussels on issues of migratory flows and civil rights as part of the ‘Dialogue 5 + 5’ project, an important forum for political-strategic dialogue established in 1990 between the EU.and the states of the North African shore of the Maghreb. Relations with Spain and France have also improved over the years of Abdel Aziz’s presidency, so much so that Mauritania has become a strategic ally in the reduction of illegal immigration, in the fight against organized crime and in the containment of Islamist terrorism in the region. The USA toothey strengthened their relations with the country, particularly in the context of the fight against international terrorism, as demonstrated by the importance of the role played by Mauritania in the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership program. By virtue of this, the country has also assumed an important role as a mediator in regional crises as in the case of Mali. Abdel Aziz fostered dialogue between the parties and proposed himself as the main actor in the negotiations between the government of Bamako and the Tuareg insurgents, which led to the signing of a ceasefire in Algiers on February 19, 2015. Mauritania also participates in the mission from peacekeeping to guide the United Nations in Mali (Minusma).
In recent years, according to itypeusa, relations with China have intensified, mainly interested in the import of minerals and hydrocarbons to satisfy the growing internal demand for energy. Ties with Israel, which provides aid and technical assistance, create tensions both internally and in relations with Arab countries that have begun to invest in Mauritanian mineral resources. Relevant are the relations with neighboring states. Among these, the fluctuating relationship with Senegal due to some disputes over the rights to exploit the waters of the Senegal river valley, crucial for a state with scarce water reserves such as Mauritania, is of particular importance. Finally, the deep-rooted presence on the border between Mali, Algeria, Niger and Mauritania of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) prompted Nouakchott to strengthen regional cooperation on security matters. Aqim remains the main threat to the country’s political stability to this day.
Defense and security
Defense of Mauritania is led by the president, who is also commander of the armed forces. The two-year compulsory draft was introduced in 1962 and is still in force. The armed forces have a great deal of influence in the country, which has been ruled several times by military regimes. However, the rather small size and equipment of the army show that it is mainly oriented towards operations to maintain internal security. The eradication of the terrorist group Aqim is one of the priorities of the current president Aziz.
With this in mind, cooperation with Algeria and Mali has recently been strengthened for the control of their respective border areas in order to block the illegal flow of supplies and the recruitment of AQIM affiliates. Mauritania also provides troops for the mission peacekeeping to guide An in Mali. The current Mauritanian executive has also strengthened its security cooperation with both the US and France, especially in the area of training and modernizing national troops in counterterrorism / counterinsurgency operations.. China, a major player in Africa, has also pledged to donate $ 1.5 million to support the modernization of Mauritanian military forces. Also in this context, the country, together with Morocco, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, is part of a regional mission aimed at securing the borders of Sahel-West Africa. The new abbreviation is based in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, and has been renamed G5 of the Sahel.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (acronym A qim) is a terrorist group operating in North Africa and the Sahel. A qim has its origins from the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Gspc), formerly an armed Islamic group (G ia), an Islamist resistance movement against the Algerian secular government. The Salafi-jihadist group was born in 2002 and since 2004 is led by the Algerian Emir Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, also known as Abdelmalek Droukdel. Since 2006, the group has officially joined the central al-Qaida network. Aqimaims to overthrow all governments in the area to create a theocracy based on Islamic law. The main sources of funding for the movement are the smuggling of arms and drugs, facilitated by the porosity of the borders of the Saharan region. Other funding comes from illegal cell activities based in Europe. Very active in the Sahel, A qimit is well established along the borders between Mauritania, Algeria and Mali. In recent years, the organization has carried out numerous attacks on Western citizens and businesses and in 2009 carried out a suicide bombing against the French embassy in Nouakchott. Since the Malian crisis of 2012-13, the risks of instability for Mauritania have increased considerably so that, to combat the Qaidist threat, the government participates in the Minusma international stabilization mission in Mali. Despite the signing of the ceasefire between the warring parties (Algiers, February 2015), sporadic attacks continue to occur throughout the region.