Mounting Signs of Major Shift in Mauritania-Polisario Ties
It seems that they have been dropped by the new Mauritanian leadership. The early signs of the cracks in relations with Nouakchott appeared during the presidential campaign that led to the victory of Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ahmed Ould Ghazouani.
Though the Polisario chief Brahim Ghali was invited by outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to attend Ould Ghazouani’s inauguration, the new Mauritanian President gave him an icy welcome. Brahim Ghali even extended his stay in Nouakchott hoping to be received by Ghazouani but in vain.
During his election campaign, Ould Ghazouani, a former defense minister, implicitly showed his colors on the Sahara when he told his supporters that if he were elected president, he would not “grant Mauritanian nationality to the Sahrawis living in Tindouf or elsewhere.”
He even described as “a betrayal” the naturalization of the Sahrawis of the Tindouf camps, Southern Algeria.
For his part, his predecessor, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, had told online newspaper Arai Al Yaoum (April 11, 2019) that “the United States, Europe and the West do not want a state placed between Morocco and Mauritania”.
Although, relations between Rabat and Nouakchott were strained during the era of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who was probably intimidated by the Algerian authorities, the Moroccan-Mauritanian ties never deteriorated.
Morocco is the only country in the region with which Mauritania has strong commercial relations. Every day, dozens of trucks laden with goods cross the Moroccan border post of Guergarate, heading for Mauritania and other West African countries.
Besides, the Moroccan Sovereign was among the first Heads of State to congratulate the new president for his victory, expressing” his firm determination to work with Ould Ghazouani to give a strong impetus to the fruitful cooperation ties between Morocco and Mauritania”.
In his congratulatory message, the Monarch also pledged to better optimize the opportunities and potentials of the two neighboring countries and serve their shared interests.