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Vol 42 No 3

Published 9th February 2001


Mauritania

Go north, Ould Taya!

Domestic concerns take second place as a confident President redraws diplomatic policy

Colonel Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's increasingly assertive foreign policy, based on closer ties to the West - notably the United States and its key ally Israel - and to Maghreb neighbours, shows a ruler who feels comfortable at home (AC Vol 35 No 19) in the face of considerable potential opposition. His taste for taking diplomatic risks was underlined by Nouakchott's determination to maintain ties with Israel; along with Egypt and Jordan, it is now the only member of the League of Arab States to take such a position since the current Palestinian intifada (uprising) began. In a total about-turn from the years when Baathist and Nasserite tendencies vied for influence, Taya has shrugged off protests from leading domestic critics such as Ahmed Ould Daddah and the disquiet of most Mauritanians over this issue. Protests have been violently suppressed.

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