Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mauritanian coup's effect on Western Sahara

I'd like to hear from people who know better (calling you out, Alle) what effect Mauritania's coup today will have on Western Sahara's chances for independence. I was getting the sense that Mauritania's president was moving closer towards Morocco than past leaders--will the coup leaders reverse this trend?


  1. I don't think it will have any effect at all on overall Mauritanian policy, at least not directly. Of course, a more unstable Mauritania might slip in either direction, or both ways at once, and there may well be repercussions below our radar -- family, tribal or business networks whose fortunes have echoes on the political issue. I recall ould Tayaa had some army commander from the Sahrawi Reguibat tribe, for example, who was thought to be very close to people in Polisario a few years back -- that sort of thing could very well come to matter, but don't look to me for predictions...

    Also, I don't think it's true that Abdellahi was moving more towards Morocco. He was steering a neutral course, as had his predecessor ould Tayaa, and the new-old head of state Gen. Mohammed ould Abdelaziz (despite his uncanny name resemblance to the Polisario chief) has served in both those administrations without -- apparently -- going in to change the policy. What DID seem to happen, on the other hand, was that more Mauritanian parties came out behind Polisario than before 2005, and that may have a long-term effect. One effect of the coup has been to shut out the most outspokenly pro-Polisario party, UFP, from government -- Abdellahi had brought them into his second government (though not b/c of W. Sahara, presumably), but the military forced it out of the third, short-lived one due to various mutual hatreds; and after the ould Abdelaziz takeover UFP may well be in danger of being banned again, depending on how this plays out. But they never affected policy much, so it is of no great consequence to W. S. as a whole.

  2. Hussein2:26 AM

    "Alle" forgot to analyze who is behind the coup d'Etat, and very probably it is France. Or at least Paris is not displeased... because it could change the policy toward WS conflict in a pro-moroccan direction.

  3. Anonymous3:49 AM

    New governor ( in his biography ) have graduated from Moroccan high military school in Fes, so who know!

  4. Anonymous4:42 AM

    Mauritania does not work alone. when you hear that a coupe-d'etat in Mauritania think in france. Frace always controls this poor country, and when somneone acts againts the wish of france he will be kicked in next day. concern western sahara, the official Mauritania could not act contre the wish of france. publically, mauritania is neutre, but in reality it helps Morocco. we know very well mauritania.

  5. I thought he was trained in Meknès? At least that's what the bios I've read say.

    I doubt that France was behind the coup. Ould Abdelaziz and his cronies were behind the coup, for their own reasons. The question is whether France, or some other power, was informed, and if so, to what extent it colluded with them and/or influenced them; it is not about them being "controlled" by France. Another question is, if France was NOT informed, whether it will simply allow it or exert influence to the contrary. Their top priority is to keep Mauritania stable, anti-terrory and generally open to French influence, which may very well include keeping it away from Algeria and Polisario -- but that's hardly a factor in this coup.

  6. Anonymous9:45 AM

    yes he is trained in Meknes, Graduated in 1977 according to arabic websites

    but he is also from " Oulad Besbaa" fraction living in the border between Mauritania and Western Sahara. in the past they have a lot of local "wars" between them and the Rguibat tribe from WS. for that reason ould abdelaziz also may not be pro- WS !!!

  7. I thought about that too, but ever since 2005 the state has been more or less dominated by people from ouled bou Sbaa (mainly Vall & Abdelaziz), and they haven't changed anything in Mauritania's policy yet... so why now? It would just bring them trouble they don't need.

    On the other hand, Le Matin in Morocco just came out very strongly in favor of the coup, so maybe you're right. Check my last post at Western Sahara Info for link & quotes.

  8. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Hi Will

    Alla. You are right
    You have a very interested info on your blog. Even Mauritanians don’t know !!! go ahead

    According to Moroccan Arabic newspaper "AsSabah" the two generals in head of the Coup Ould Abdelaziz and ould El-Ghazwani are pro-Moroccan !!! They are against general Abderahman ould Boubaker ( pro-Polisario) pointed by Pres. Abdalahi just before the Coup.

    Amazing. Now we have THREE abdelaziz in the Maghreb:

    Algeria: Pres. ABDELAZIZ Bouteflika
    Mauritania : Gen. Ould ABDELAZIZ
    Western Sahara (Polisario) : Sec. Mohamed ABDELAZIZ

    Some said now KM6 of Morocco should called: ABDELAZIZ KM6

    And we will have the same “family” governing most of Maghreb !!
    first step towards UMA ( L'Union du Maghreb Arabe - Arab Maghreb union - AMU - )