Africa Blog Roundup: Tourism in West Africa, Somaliland Elections, Reggae in Mali, and More

Baobab on how instability has hurt tourism in Francophone West Africa, with a focus on Burkina Faso.

Nasser Weddady responds in detail to a speech by US Ambassador to Mauritania Jo Ellen Powell. At the end, he writes that memories of Mauritania’s unsuccessful military intervention in Western Sahara – a crisis that prompted Mauritania’s first coup in 1978 – are shaping Mauritanian elites’ views on the question of whether Mauritania will become militarily involvement in northern Mali today.

Mauritania’s strongman, General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, understood better than anyone that the Mauritanian army does not fight in shooting wars. He owes his very position of strongman to that maxim. his genius in toppling [former head of state Maaouya Ould] Taya [in 2005] was to play on the senior officers corps fears of a replay of the catastrophic Sahara war against the Polisario 30 years earlier: fighting a war was out of the question for them even if it was a national interest.

in August 2005, then-president, Colonel Ould Taya gave a direct order to his military to hunt down AQIM’s precursor – the GSPC – after it attacked and killed Mauritanian soldiers in Northern Mauritania. That order was his last. his undoing was forgetting that in July 1978, after 3 years of warfare against the Polisario, he was among army officers that felt that a putsch was the only way to stop a war of choice. They swiftly deposed the country’s founding father Moctar Ould Daddah, then signed a cease-fire without any meaningful gains to justify the sacrifices made. Let’s not forget that Mauritania’s entry in that war was in part a result outside interference– primarily fear of Morocco.

Plainly put, the psychological parallels between that period and today are fueling popular rejection of a Mauritanian intervention in Mali. All these factors account for the new Aziz Mali posture: if Mauritania’s borders are not attacked, and terrorist bases are not established within 200 km from its borders then Mauritania will not attack. All told, this is an elegant formula to reconcile the strongman’s internal needs with his needs for Western goodwill: Mauritania’s active involvement in the impending war.

Loomnie: “So the Chinese Are Benefiting from AGOA.”

Amb. John Campbell: “Christmas Violence in Nigeria.”


Bruce Whitehouse translates and analyzes an anti-Islamist song from Bamako-based Ivoirian reggae artist Tiken Jah Fakoly.

Tolu Ogunlesi: “Oxfam’s Book of Lamentations.”

Africa Is A Country on bad journalism and misguided cultural commentary about Africa in 2012.

G. Pascal Zachary reviews Stephen Ellis’ Season of the Rains: Africa in the World.

Peter Tinti‘s latest roundup on Mali and the Sahel.

What are you reading?

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