Clashes have broken out in Western Sahara, ending a 30-year ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. Fighting could intensify absent outside help. The UN should fill its empty special envoy post, while the U.S. leads international efforts to restart diplomacy.
Diplomatic row erupted as govt accused Mali’s army of crimes against Mauritanians. Dozens of people 8 March demonstrated outside presidency in capital Nouakchott to protest reported disappearance in early March of Mauritanian citizens on Malian side of border south of Adel Bagrou town. Govt later same day said it had summoned Malian ambassador “to protest the recent criminal acts perpetrated by regular Malian forces against our defenceless and innocent citizens in Malian territory”. Bamako 9 March said there was “no proof” of Malian armed forces’ involvement but promised investigation into disappearances. Malian FM Abdoulaye Diop 11-12 March led high-level delegation to Nouakchott in bid to appease tensions; neighbours agreed to establish joint mission to investigate disappearances; delegation of Mauritanian experts 16 March arrived in Mali’s capital Bamako to take part in mission.
Launched in February 2017, the G5 Sahel joint force is an experiment in a region crowded by sometimes-competing military and diplomatic initiatives. Weapons and money will not be enough to resolve the Sahel’s crises, so the force must win the trust and support of both local populations and regional powers.
On 3 August 2005, a junta led by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, director-general of the Sûreté National, and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, commander of the presidential security battalion, seized power in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The coup, which responded to the growing unpopularity and declining legitimacy of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya’s regime, signifies a break with the past but also reflects significant continuity in terms both of method and personalities.
Disregarded by the media and international community, Mauritania is nonetheless experiencing a period of increasing instability. Evidence abounds and includes failed military coups, creation of a rebel movement, Foursan Taghyir ("The Knights of Change"), discovery of weapons caches in Nouakchott, and the arrest of Islamist leaders.
The Sahel, a vast region bordering the Sahara Desert and including the countries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, is increasingly referred to by the U.S. military as "the new front in the war on terrorism".
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