Mauritania falls


A military junta has overthrown the leader of Mauritania, an ally of America in its fight against terror and one of the few Muslim nations that had diplomatic relations with Israel. The former President, Maouya Sidi Ahmed Taya, was replaced while he was out of the country attending the funeral of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

This coup may have implications which reach far and wide beyond the borders of the nation. Islamic leaders have often criticized Taya for his relations with Israel, and some of these very leaders have been linked to terror groups.* Islamic terror  groups despise the rulers of Saudi Arabia and it is a coup to take advantage of the death of one of them to assume control of a small nation.

Will Mauritania become a new outpost for Islamic terrorists?  Will the shield of diplomatic immunity be used to protect terrorists? Will terror training bases be built?

This country is situated close to Spain and its proximity would facilitate illegal immigration into Spain. Groups there can also operate against its neighbor, Morocco, which is also a nation with friendly relations with America and to a lesser extent with Israel (there are many Moroccan Jews in Israel and many of them have fond memories of the protection offered to them by that nation's royal family).

One other risk factor: oil was recently discovered off the coast of Mauritania. Control over the potential financial bounty could help fuel violence in the region as sales ramp up in the years ahead.
* Indeed, it was optimistically hoped by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that Mauritania would serve as a beachhead to encourage other Muslim nations to establish diplomatic relations.

Ed Lasky   8 04 05