If you’re hungry for more coverage of the recent pan-Saharan summit on AQIM, check out Kal’s piece on the subject. He turns needed attention on the internal dynamics of Mauritanian politics and terrorism:
What is missing in the discussion about AQIM, especially in Mauritania, is a critical look at the country’s current leadership. This refers to perhaps two trends: (1) the tendency of the current Mauritanian government to evoke AQIM and terrorism when attempting to consolidate broader and (sometimes) extra-constitutional powers; and (2) a similar movement by the government towards “engaging” the Salafist tendency to the point where it risks making a generally marginal political and religious movement more mainstream and an important part in legitimizing the first trend internationally and domestically.
The rest of the piece builds on these remarks.
Speaking of internal Mauritanian politics and their broader effects, Mauritania recently severed ties with Israel. Ties were suspended since the Gaza offensive in January 2009, but this month Mauritania “expelled Israeli diplomats and ordered the closing of the Israeli embassy.”
What do commenters think of this move? Does it signal a desire on Mauritania’s part to move more firmly into the Arab fold? Has US and French support for Mauritania’s leadership (as described by Kal in the piece above) made President Ould Abdel Aziz feel freer to reject ties with Israel? Does breaking ties with Israel dilute the appeal of Salafism for Mauritanian youth?