Mauritania hunts Al Qaeda militants
After seizing power in August, the west African country's military government faces its first big security test.
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IRIN, a United Nations information network, reported that the European Union, US government, and The World Bank has cut off or threatened to stop US$500 million in non-humanitarian aid to Mauritania in protest of the Aug. 6 military coup. Some of those funds were earmarked for counterterrorism and military training to help Mauritania fight the militants.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Guitta argued that the Mauritanian military ousted the country's president, Sheikh Sidi Ould Abdallahi, in part because they saw him as too soft on Islamic terrorists. He wrote that many Mauritanians blamed Abdallahi for allowing the country's security situation to deteriorate from "bad to worse."
One example of Abdallahi's misguided policies: releasing Islamic militants from prison. According to Guitta, several well-known militants freed by Abdallahi were later linked to the December 2007 killings of the four French tourists.
Guitta observed that the US and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb both condemned the August coup, but for sharply different reasons.
Weirdly enough, at about the same time, the U.S. and France both forcefully condemned the coup, calling the new regime illegitimate and suspended their non-humanitarian help, which actually included financial support to fight the war against radical Islam.
The fact that al-Qaida and some Western nations agree over the new Mauritanian regime should make the U.S. and French diplomacy review their troubling assessment of the situation. This all the more so that North Africa has become a very important battlefield for al-Qaida and that Mauritania, a vast and sparsely populated (three million), has always been the soft underbelly of the region.