Closure of Qatari Rehabilitation Center in Mauritania Indicates Crisis Between the Two Countries
In a recent interview with El-Khabar, [Mauritanian] political analyst Mohammed Ould Loul announced that the Islamists in Mauritania feel less important than Islamists in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia and were thus coordinating with other parties to overthrow the regime. Louli notes that the closure of a Qatari rehabilitation center by Mauritanian authorities is demonstrative of an ongoing crisis between the two countries.
El-Khabar News leaks have revealed that while he was in Tunisia, Qatari Emir [Hamad Bin-Khalifa Al Thani] denied the existence of a crisis [between him] and Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, contradicting several media reports proclaimed that relations between the two countries are going cold. What is really happening?
Louli All [of those] the media reports were based on [the fact that] Mauritanian [State] TV chose not to broadcast the farewell ceremony held for the Qatari Emir as he took off from Nouakchott International Airport. This [initially] aroused speculations about the possibility of strained relations between the two countries. Two days later, the Qatari Ambassador to Mauritania released a statement asserting that the Mauritanian president’s non-attendance of the Qatari Emir’s farewell ceremony was completely normal as it [did not violate diplomatic] protocol and was not even part of the [Emir’s] visit’s schedule. [Senior] officials present at the reception ceremony confirmed to El-Khabar that the invitation [letters] made no mention of a farewell ceremony at the airport. Also, observers of Mauritanian affairs have recognized that antagonizing Qatar is not particularly in the interest of Mauritania at this stage. Qatari Emir Hamad Bin-Khalifa Al Thani has [recently] signed 13 agreements with the Mauritanian President on various issues.
El-Khabar Why did the Mauritanian authorities close a social rehabilitation center funded by the Qatari Emir’s wife almost 10 days after his visit [to the country]?
Louli The closure of the Qatari-Mauritanian Establishment for Social Development [QMESD] [does indeed] indicate that there is a crisis between the two countries. [This development is] what the hypothesis of strained relations between Mauritanian President Abdel Aziz and the Qatari Emir is based on. The Emir might have advised the Mauritanian President to enact reforms, angering Abdel Aziz. [This at least] is what has been widely circulated in the media.
El-Khabar What do you make of Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the Mauritanian opposition’s threats to overthrow the regime in a similar manner to the way [the Tunisian regime] was overthrown?
Louli Al-Jazeera has not been covering the activities of the Mauritanian opposition as should be. The Islamists in Mauritania feel [like they are playing second fiddle] to the Islamists in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. This is why they are planning to somehow overthrow the regime. The head of the Islamist Al-Tawasul Party [Mohammed] Jamil [Ould] Mansour [was dismayed that] he only received four percent of vote in the last presidential elections. [What’s more], the only party with ties to the [Muslim] Brotherhood only has three out of 100 seats [in parliament].
El-Khabar What are the reasons behind the postponement of legislative elections even though the current parliament’s mandate ended months ago?
Louli The parliament’s five-year mandate expired four months ago. The government justified postponing [the elections] through claims that it was the opposition requested that they be held off until the completion of the general population census in 2013.