Mauritania and Palestine…decades of advocacy and years of normalization | Policy

Nouakchott – In the late 1950s, when Arab countries refused to recognize Mauritania’s independence, the former Israeli Prime Minister tried to Golda Meir shake hands Mukhtar Ould Dada Mauritania’s founding president inaugurates a bridge in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire.

However, Ouldada’s response was categorical: “I will not hold this hand stained with the blood of innocent people.” PalestineWhether Arabs accept us or reject us, we are Arabs. “

Over the following decades, the same stance continued to dominate Mauritania’s vision, both official and civilian, and the post-independence government worked hard for the Palestinian cause, making it a West African battleground and embracing those who supported it. struggle and shelter Palestinians.

Dr. Sidi Omar Sheikhna (Al Jazeera Network)
Ould Schechner: Country not satisfied with theoretical unity, severing diplomatic ties with UK and Washington after setback (Al Jazeera)

rejected from the cradle

In fact, Mauritanian officials expressed their support for the Palestinian cause long before the establishment of Mauritania. Mauritania’s representative in the French parliament, Ahmedou Ould Hama Ould, stands in Banna in 1956, a few years before the country’s independence from French colonialism. Opposing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and clearly stating its stance of rejecting the establishment of a state Israel.

In the first years of the country’s independence (1960), Mauritania’s support for Palestine assumed an official dimension, unconcerned with the many challenges of the time, with the President of the Republic, Mokhtar Ould Dada, representing the vanguard of this struggle He opposed the occupation despite the dire political and economic conditions of his time.

Researcher and historian Sidi Omar Ould al-Sheikhna explained to Al Jazeera that Ould Dada refused to make any compromise on this position mauritania Who supported Palestine after the Arabs refused to accept the country as a member of the Arab states, even though it desperately needed unity league of arab states During the “Chtoura” conference in Lebanon.

However, the country was not content with a mere theoretical stance of unity and raised the ceiling even further, taking further steps of rejection in 1967 and subsequently severing diplomatic relations with Britain and the United States. Ould Schechner said June was a setback.

Despite its late origins and limited resources, Mauritania played a larger role in this event than it had at the time, especially on the African continent, with which Ouldada maintained a balanced relationship with most of its prominent leaders .

Researcher Sidi Mohammad Ould Ahmed Zaluk believes that the greatest role played by Mokhtar Ould Dada was diplomacy, especially during his term as president. african union July 1972 to July 1973.

He added that Ouldada was able to convince many African countries to sever ties with Israel, and the country opened its doors to the Palestinians, so Nouakchott hosted a large Palestinian community, including those from the Palestinian National Liberation Movement of persecution leaders (Open), police, businessmen and many families and gave them passports.

The Mauritanian government has also decided for many years to broadcast Mauritania’s Voice of Palestine radio station through its official radio station, and for decades the Mauritanian passport has been printed with the sentence: He can enter the world except the “Zionist entity” and South Africa All countries because of the apartheid regime at the time, Zaluk said.

Sidi Mohammad Zaluk
Sidi Zarrouk: Former President Mokhtar Ould Dada succeeded in convincing many African countries to sever ties with Israel (Al Jazeera)

normalized interval

In the second half of the 1990s, differences between France and the former presidential regimes of Mauritania appeared to be escalating. Muawiya Ould TayaThe latter decided to turn the page opened by President Mokhtar Ould Dada and turn his face to Tel Aviv, since this was “the most appropriate way to present his credentials” to Washington.

The normalization process was shrouded in great secrecy, especially in its early stages, when two interest sector offices were opened in my embassy. Spain In 1996, in Tel Aviv and Nouakchott, the level of diplomatic representative was raised to the level of ambassador in 1999.

Former Mauritanian foreign minister Ahmedou Ould Sidi Ahmed said relations with Israel began “at a time when Mauritania suffered from diplomatic isolation and the doors of international financing and aid agencies were closed.”

The minister added in a statement that he was “encouraged at the time by the trend among some Arab countries to establish relations with Israel and by the launch of the Barcelona Process and the Madrid Conference”Oslo Accords“.

Diplomatic relations between Mauritania and Israel lasted for about ten years (from 1999 to 2009), during which 4 presidents came to power.

Among them were initiator Oould Taya and two presidents Eli Ould Muhammad Farr Who ruled the country during the transition period from 2005 to 2007 after the Ould Taya coup, andSidi Mohammed Ould Sheikh Abdullah – who ruled the country from July 2007 to August 2008 – they maintained relations but did not develop or strengthen them.

As for the fourth president, he was: Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz In January 2009, after the Gaza Summit held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, who announced a freeze on relations between Mauritania and Israel.

generally rejected

Over the years of these relations, popular anger escalated and coup attempts against the Ouldtaya regime accelerated. Dozens of academics and imams have been jailed after refusing to normalize their sermons and speeches, most notably the fatwa of scholar Sheikh Mohammed Hassan Dado by the country’s most prominent academic Signed, and made it clear: He firmly prohibited normalization.

Although Ould Taja’s regime continued to normalize, some politicians close to him believe he did not believe this, and his management of the documents confirms this. His agriculture minister responded when he was consulted on the projects Israel wanted. “We don’t want this relationship to go beyond the status quo,” he said. “That’s what it is now, and we won’t plan anything else for it.”

Popular rejection was not limited to demonstrations and fatwas, as Dr. Zayed Ould El Khatat slapped a member of an Israeli medical delegation during a visit to the largest hospital in the capital, Nouakchott. It is also reflected in other aspects.

Mauritanian poet and journalist Moulay Abdullah also declined to accept the award – after winning for his poem he wrote a poem about Hoda, a child alone on a Gaza beach. Ghalia – after he noticed that the Israeli Ambassador was attending the ceremony where he would receive the award.

In 2008, popular pressure intensified to end the “abnormal” state of normalization, as then-President of the Mauritanian Parliament Messaoud Ould Belkheir described it, especially in response to the After the coup and the coming to power of a new regime by President Ould Sheikh Abdullah. Worry about continuing the approach of both predecessors.

The military regime led by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz responded at the end of the same year by summoning the Mauritanian ambassador, subsequently demanding that the occupying ambassador leave Nouakchott within 48 hours and announcing the closure of the embassy .

In a symbolic step, bulldozers were sent in to open the street in front of the embassy that had been closed for years, a scene that caused widespread relief among Mauritanians and boosted support for the then-next president in a campaign that faced widespread political opposition. coup.

Center, the husband of Mauritanian President Maryam Daher Fadel puts her headscarf on her shoulders during a march against the war in Gaza (Al Jazeera)
President Gazovani’s wife Mariam Daher Fadel (centre) wears a hijab during a march against the war in Gaza (Al Jazeera)

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor Hafez Al-Rais Muhammad Ould Sheikh Ghazwani After severing ties, his ruling party launched a campaign to gain political support and financial donations and participated in a vigil in front of the president. United Nations There is also the Western embassy in Nouakchott. The wife of the current president also participated in a demonstration in support of the resistance movement for the first time and appointed a representative of the Islamic resistance movement (agitation) in Mauritania.

Despite strong official Mauritanian opposition to this position, which enjoys huge political support and popular satisfaction, regional and international institutions have continued to pressure the country to return to normalization.

Analysts believe that as Mauritania normalizes and pressure from Europe and the United States continues to increase, Mauritanian powers must take escalating measures to oppose reconciliation with Israel.

There must also be increased support for senior official positions, praising their strength and comprehensiveness, from the president’s tweets, to ministers’ blogs and statements, to the leadership of the ruling party and the majority’s demonstrations and donations in the aftermath . “process.”al aqsa floods“.

Despite everything that is being said, the support for the Palestinian cause, the consensus about it and the movement for the Palestinian cause today is an advanced state that Mauritania has not officially reached since its independence.

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