الصفحـة الرئيسية   الأخبار   المقالات   رياضة   مواقع مهمة   التراث   نافذة على التاريخ الموريتاني Français Tawary Mali   من نحـن   اتصل بنا
الطواري تحصل علي معلومات مهمة عن فضيحة صوملك ||الطواري|| خـــاص: الرئيس ولد عبد العزيز في زيارة رسمية لمدينتي ازويرات وأطار ||الطواري|| نقابة الصحفيين تفتتح دورة تكوينية لـ12 صحفيا بالتعاون مع مركز الجزيرة للتدريب ||الطواري|| منظمات حقوقية تدعو إلى الابتعاد عن تسييس العمل الحقوقي (بيان) ||الطواري|| ولد اباته يستقبل مجموعة أهل الشيخ سيديا في "بومبري" ||الطواري|| عائلة السنوسي تقرر مقاضاة الرئيس الموريتاني ||الطواري|| مديرية الصحة بسيلبابي تنفي اعتمادها "الزبونية والتمييز" ضد عمال القطاع (حق الرد) ||الطواري|| انطلاق المراجعة السنوية المشتركة للبرنامج الوطني لتنمية قطاع التهذيب ||الطواري|| والدة "أحمد لكليزة"، بطل جريمة نواذيبو، تتحدث للطوارى عن ظروف اعتقال ولدها ||الطواري|| أنباء عن اعتقال "با علي"، مدير مركز "صوملك" في كيفة على خلفية اختفاء 124 مليون أوقية ||الطواري||      

 

 

La page précédente

الطواري تنفرد موريتانيا بنشر النص الكامل للبرقايات المثيرة جدا الخاصة بالسفارة الامريكية في موريتانيا من الوثائق التي نشرها موقع وكيليكس ( نص البرقيات باللغة الانجليزية )
2010-12-03 20:59:00

09NOUAKCHOTT138 Date17/02/2009 01:34 OriginEmbassy

08NOUAKCHOTT439 Date17/08/2008 04:41 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott

ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL Header

Excerpt from document summary

(C) General Aziz, accompanied by his Director of Cabinet, Cheyakh Ould Ely, and Presidential Diplomatic and Security Advisor, Ould Michel, received visiting AF DAS Todd Moss and DoD Principal Director for African Affairs, Michael Dumont as well as Ambassador and DATT. DAS Moss underscored that the objectives of his visit were to insure that the junta understood the USG’s position, that it was a whole of government position, and to explore possibilities for the resolution of the crisis.

Full Document VZCZCXRO2493

OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHPA RUEHROV RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0439/01 2301641

ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 171641Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7508 INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 0240 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0132 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0449 RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0241 RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY Content

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 NOUAKCHOTT 000439 SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2018 TAGS: PREL, MR

SUBJECT: SITREP 10 - VISIT OF U.S. ENVOYS TO MAURITANIA Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware


--------------- DAS MOSS MEETING WITH GENERAL AZIZ


---------------

1. (C) General Aziz, accompanied by his Director of Cabinet,

Cheyakh Ould Ely, and Presidential Diplomatic and Security Advisor, Ould Michel, received visiting AF DAS Todd Moss and DoD Principal Director for African Affairs, Michael Dumont as well as Ambassador and DATT. DAS Moss underscored that the objectives of his visit were to insure that the junta understood the USG’s position, that it was a whole of government position, and to explore possibilities for the resolution of the crisis. Moss noted that the US and the broader international community’s considered Mauritanian democracy not only intrinsically positive but also as an important example for the rest of Africa and the Arab world. He said that assessment resulted not only in broad goodwill but into the significant financial support pledged at the Paris Consultative Group meeting last December. Observing that while USG assistance was relatively modest, several initiatives were underway that would likely have led to several hundreds of millions of dollars of military and development assistance.

2. (C) DAS Moss reiterated that the USG could not accept a military coup both for reasons of principle and US law. He noted that 2008 was nothing like 2005, that Africa was moving on and the era of coups was over. Underscoring the urgent need to find a solution, he said that little time remained before the current suspension of assistance became formal and final. He assured General Aziz that the USG did not want to see Mauritania isolated from the international community and did not want to see a window of opportunity opened for Al Qaeda. He expressed his hope that we could explore some next steps that would necessarily include the liberation and restoration of President Abdallahi and an honorable arrangement for the Mauritanian military. He stressed the USG’s comprehension of the importance of the military as an institution and as a partner. Moss lamented the fact that our strong military cooperation was now in jeopardy and would necessarily be curtailed if constitutional order was not quickly restored.

3. (C) Expressing thanks for the USG’s interest, Aziz insisted that what happened in Mauritania was not a coup. He accused President Abdallahi variously of corruption (citing specifically Transparency International’s ranking), incompetence, authoritarianism, loss of political support, including Islamists and communists in government, indifference to national security, and creating government paralysis and political deadlock. He condemned both the form and substance of President Abdallahi’s decree dismissing the military leadership calling it an illegal order that threatened to spark violence. He said that four-fifths of parliamentarians wanted to bring Abdallahi to trial and that the "reality of Mauritania" was that Abdallahi was flatly rejected by the people. Aziz said that our military relationship was important and that it was he, not Abdallahi, who had strengthened it. As only the "executive" was touched by this move, the military relationship could continue.

4. (C) DAS Moss observed that democracy was a messy process, not always highly efficient and that even established democracies faced similar challenges. He said that what mistakes President Abdallahi and his administration might have made, this removal and arrest were even bigger mistakes and the international coup not help but consider this a coup. He stated that our bilateral relations had been strong not because of President Abdallahi personally but because Mauritania was a democracy and they could not remain the same under these circumstances. An immediate first step was to restore democracy and that none of the alleged problems he cited could justify the coup. He repeated that broad international goodwill, international support, and the military relationship with the US were now all very much at NOUAKCHOTT 00000439 002 OF 006 risk.

5. (C) Reiterating the solidarity between the US, France, the EU and the AU, Moss urged Aziz to "talk to us about a way out of this crisis." He opined that there must be some way to restore President Abdallahi and to address military concerns and also to engage with a willing international community to address Mauritania’s many problems including corruption. Moss said that a good place to start and a gesture of seriousness would be to allow him to visit Abdallahi before leaving Nouakchott and that he was would rearrange his schedule to accomplish that, if permitted. Noting the personal interest on the US side of the President, Secretary Rice and Deputy Secretary Negroponte, such a gesture could be "an important signal."

6. (C) Asked to contribute a Department of Defense perspective, Principal Director Michael Dumont noted that, speaking as a former military officer and a lawyer, anytime an elected leader was removed and arrested by the military that constituted a coup d’etat He noted that the coup created a stain on the military’s honor that the Department of Defense could not overlook and that only General Aziz could remove.

7. (C) Aziz reiterated his thanks for USG concern, indicated that he "understood" our position and would seek to maintain a dialogue. He regretted, however, that "internal security" concerns precluded visiting President Abdallahi at this time.

8. (C) Comment: General Aziz, seen dressed for the first time since the coup in a business suit, was visibly uncomfortable and laid out his litany of accusations against Abdallahi in a less orderly and polished manner than he had when receiving previous demarches. Although he seemed to hesitate somewhat when DAS Moss first raised the possibility of visiting Abdallahi, in the end he refused, leaving us with virtually no starting point for the dialogue he professes to welcome.


--------------

MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER WAGHEF


--------------

9. (C) Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Moss and DOD Principal Director for Africa Michael Dumont, accompanied by Ambassador, met August 15 with Prime Minister Yahya Ould el Waghef, President of the National Assembly Boukheir and President of the Economic and Social Council Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba at the Prime Minister’s private residence.

10. (C) The Prime Minister described a situation of "impossible pressure" being exerted by the military junta on the Mauritanian people and its political leaders. We noted that both the Presidents of the National Assembly and Senate were being threatened with investigations for alleged mismanagement and corruption if they did not side with the junta and added he himself had been threatened if he did not join in the investiture of the "new" Prime Minister Laghdaf and side with the junta — which he has, of course, refused. The Prime Minister noted that "only a few" can withstand the pressure and added that the junta is controlling the media as a 24 hour barrage of pro-coup propaganda. He opined that average Mauritanians, after decades of succeeding coups, were disheartened and tended to offer little resistance to the coup since they saw such efforts as futile.

11. (C) Waghef saw the response to this coup as "the one chance for Mauritania and Africa" to once and finally break the practice of governmental change by force. He said that if we yield to the coup again — led by the same leaders of the coup of 2005 " there would be no chance for real democracy in Mauritania." He said "the coup MUST fail" for, if it fails, no military leader with ever try again in Mauritania — perhaps not in the region. He cautioned not to accept any discussion of "new elections" since that would only legitimize the coup. Waghef called for rapid targeted NOUAKCHOTT 00000439 003 OF 006

sanctions against the military putschists and their civilian collaborators and for a firm position of the international community to cease "all possible contact" with the junta. We also called for the Security Council to take strong action against to putsch. Waghef also urged that the international response not be limited to freezing development assistance, but stopping military cooperation as well indicating this was a measure that would concern Aziz more. He suggested he was particularly concerned about the French position on military cooperation.

12. (C) President of the National Assembly Boukheir said the military had taken power in a completely unconstitutional manner and was attempting to manipulate the national assembly to legitimize its actions. He argued that the transition process for legislative elections had been manipulated by the military just for this eventuality. Of the 95 seats in the Assembly, 50 had been filled with "independents" financed by the military. He dismissed arguments of a two-thirds majority of the parliament being in favor of the coup saying that any parliamentarian who willingly abandons his commitment to the constitution loses their legitimacy and is no better than the putchists. Boukheir said he had refused to cooperate with the military in their efforts to manipulate the parliament telling them, "if you’re going to stage a coup, you might as well dissolve parliament and the political parties as well." Boukheir noted the first decree of the High State of Council not only overturns the presidency, but exerts the right to over-rule the parliament should their efforts at parliamentary manipulation fail. He added that if the coup succeeds, there can be no chance for democracy.

13. (C) Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba dismissed General Aziz as one lacking "the education, intelligence or experience" to head the military — much less the country and asserted that the idiocy of the current situation is that it stems from this one individual to accept a legal order dismissing him. Sidi Baba argued the past 16 months of democracy had seen a flourishing of liberty and the beginning of international investment interest ) all of which was at stake now because Aziz was trying to make himself a "new Emperor Bokassa." Sidi Baba asserted 80 to 85 percent of the population opposes the coup though few have the courage to say so openly.

14. (C) Sidi Baba said the situation of the country was extremely fragile and that, if the crisis was not resolved within weeks, it would be the Mauritania people who would suffer. He added that the only person who could negotiate a resolution was Abdallahi himself since neither he, the Prime Minister, nor the President’s of the Senate and National Assembly had the constitutional legitimacy to do so. Sidi Baba called on the U.N. to try the putschists as they have those guilty of genocide.

15. (C) Deputy Assistant Secretary Moss assured the Mauritanians of a firm U.S. position based on: (a) Complete repudiation of the coup, (b) Demands for the immediate release and restoration of President Abdallahi, (c) A commitment in this visit to tell the junta this coup will not stand, (d) The rejection of the junta’s calls for &new8 elections, and, (e) The continued suspension of assistance which, if the coup is not reversed very rapidly, will become permanent with the funds going elsewhere. Moss said the U.S. would stick to this position as a matter of principle, as a reflection of our hopes for Mauritania, and as a matter of U.S. law. He said his goal was to convince General Aziz that he could not recreate the coup of 2005. The time of coups in Africa is done as we are seeing to the strong response of the U.S., France, the E.U., the A.U. and even of Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Moss added that any political negotiation must necessarily start with President Abdallahi back in the Presidency (Moss repeatedly NOUAKCHOTT 00000439 004 OF 006 returned to these points in subsequent meetings and during his August 15 press conference). Ambassador highlighted that the participation of the Defense Department’s Mr. Dumont in the delegation was to convince General Aziz that there would be no "under-the-table" arrangement placing security cooperation above our priority for the restoration of democracy.


Meeting with Ould Daddah


16. (SBU) Deputy Assistant Secretary Moss, Principal Director Dumont along with the Ambassador, DCM and PAO met with the formal leader of the opposition (a ministerial-ranked position in Mauritania) Ahmed Ould Daddah (RFD) along with several other party members at RFD party headquarters in Nouakchott.

17. (C) Daddah presented his party as the foundation of resistance to the military since the creation of the movement in October 1991. Daddah’s father, Moktar Ould Daddah was Mauritania’s first head-of state ruling from November 1960 to April 1979 — spending his last two years, following a 1978 coup, as head of the "Military Committee for National Recovery." Daddah reiterated his view of the evolution of the conflict and stated both his political opposition to the coup but also his opposition to reinstating President Abdallahi. He recognized that the coup as the natural teleological end to a government led by a president who had lost his legitimacy for two principle reasons: 1) not having been democratically elected (in that he was propped up by the military which had rigged the voting) and 2) throughout his presidency he failed to establish good governance that would help him gain legitimacy. He indicated that he had put conditions forward to the military for the next steps; however, did not go into detail on what such criteria were. He also frankly and forthrightly stated that from their perspective, everything was negotiable except for the return of President Abdallahi to power and offered himself as an interlocutor in any future negotiations.

18. (C) Daddah, as is prone to do as an avid intellectual and thinker, used esoteric quotes to illustrate his philosophy in invoking Latin maxims and Voltaire. One of Pascal’s Pensees made while overlooking the Pyrenees mountains separating Spain and France summed up his view of the coup and its fallout: "What is truth on one side (of the Pyrenees) is error (a lie) on the other." Ergo, what the United States and the international community saw in Abdallahi, a symbol of democracy in its youth and promise, was perceived entirely differently in Mauritania. That, he believes is the crux of the impasse between Mauritanians and the international community currently. In a society that has lost faith in the rule of law, security, and leadership, democracy has lost meaning. While the international community remains attached to this false notion of democracy, Mauritanian politicians see themselves as elected parliamentarians as potentially helping to find a solution — since they are the last remnant of democracy that has not yet eroded. One member of the party noted that historically legitimacy exists only when three conditions are met: 1) the law is on one’s side, 2) the performance of one’s government is on your side and 3) the national consensus is on one’s side. President Abdallahi, having lost all of the three aforementioned criteria, had, in effect, become illegitimate.

19. (C) DAS Moss provided Daddah with the U.S. position as noted in Para 15. He stressed that the U.S. response was a function of law as well as policy and that no "interpretation" of the coup as something else could turn back the clock. He repeated that the return of President Abdallahi was a necessary requirement for any future arrangements that might help Mauritania move forward — and stressed that any arrangement that derived from the military structure put in place was not viable.


NOUAKCHOTT 00000439 005 OF 006 Meeting with Parliamentarians


20. (C) The U.S. delegation met with 12 members of Parliament, senators and deputies, 2 women among them. As DCM had met with several earlier in the week, much of the same sentiment was echoed in this meeting. Unfortunately, most of the time was co-opted by one parliamentarian who reiterated his viewpoint on the evolution of the coup, the same story repeated time and again. That parliamentarian was cut off by his colleagues when he became abuse and began to rant against American "threats." Absent from the discourse was concrete steps to move forward, and ideas for the US and international community to work with them on resolving the current impasse. Again, the bottom line of the parliamentarians remained that, while they are not in favor of coup d’etat on principle and are in favor of democracy, they saw President Abdallahi as blocking the democratic process that might have reined in what they saw as his abuses. For them, the coup was the only way out to restore democracy. They are looking towards the international community to help them develop democracy, the Mauritanian way. They highlighted again that international precepts of what democracy is cannot be transposed on the Mauritanian situation, as it is distinct, and, as such, distinctly complex. Mauritania is weak and young and plagued by problems that the West cannot understand. Within this specific context, they see the military as one of the three key elements in Mauritanian society. Their concern remains to be Mauritania, and if the international community is in discord, they still believe they must do what is right for the country, money aside. Not all of the parliamentarians shared such a hard line and potentially isolationist approach, others thanked the U.S. for having been a historical friend and for working together currently to find resolution to the impasse. Several noted that they will be the first to protest if the military steers away from its commitment to restore democracy "soon."


Meeting with Diplomats


21. (C) The U.S. Delegation met separately with French Ambassador Vandepoorter and later, over lunch, with the French, German, Spanish, EU and UNDP representatives to brief them on the U.S. position, provide a readout of the earlier meeting with General Aziz, and hear their views on the situation. The French Ambassador spelled out what he saw as the current military tactic. From their perspective, they believe they are establishing constitutionality. With the return of the parliament for a special session to start August 28, the military will secure an organic law granting legislative blessing for the High State Council and the constitutional amendments established by the Council. He expected that Aziz would release Abdallahi once the parliament has conferred "legitimacy" — releasing Abdallahi as a private citizen once there is a "legitimate" president, prime minister, and legislature. The diplomatic corps agreed that a legislative outcome under military control could not be seen as credible.

22. (C) XXX told DAS Moss that he personally saw President Abdallahi as fatally flawed. There was just enough substance to corruption charges (at least against his wife) to seriously tarnish Abdallahi’s reputation. He said any thought of Abdallahi coming to complete his presidential mandate was "unrealistic." At best, he saw Abdallahi as returning but temporarily as part of a negotiated package deal that would include his resignation. Over lunch, the remainder of the diplomatic corps was equally ambivalent over Abdallahi’s political future although they agreed on the principle of having to return to a constitutional "save point" from which some political deal could be arranged. Several Ambassadors noted that this coup had, until now, followed the normal bloodless tradition of past successful coups. They agreed that this NOUAKCHOTT 00000439 006 OF 006 was not running as past coups in that there was substantial internal opposition and a firm international rejection. They worried that, if the situation remains unresolved for some time, there was significant risk of violence whether from a second coup, a forceful crackdown by the junta, social unrest, or opportunism by either Al Qaeda or transnational criminals who would profit from a destabilized Mauritania. XXX noted his concern that the most ardent supporters of Aziz tended to be White Moors while Abdallahi,’s strongest public base was Afro-Mauritanian — running the risk of social violence along racial lines.


PRESS CONFERENCE


23. (U) Prior to his departure, DAS Moss held a press conference outlining the U.S. position pre Para 15. The conference included some 20 journalists include representatives of Al Jezeera and Al Arabiya TV — the most heavily watched Arab-language networks in Mauritania. National television broadcast parts of Moss, statement in its first French news broadcast but dropped it from later French and Arabic editions. Al Jezeera repeatedly showed Moss, comments ensuring that most Mauritanian elites clearly heard the U.S. position. At least one local paper provided a verbatim transcript of the press conference.


COMMENT


24. (C) DAS Moss’ visit succeeded in impressing upon the junta and all political leanings that U.S. resistance to the coup is firm. DOD participation in the trip was particularly effective in dissuading General Aziz from believing that the U.S. public stance might have a back door based on security cooperation. General Aziz did not fold and that was not expected. Now put on notice, we believe Aziz will feel even more boxed in than before. Our goal is to push him to look for an exit strategy.

25. (U) DAS Moss did not have the opportunity to review this cable prior to his departure. Boulware

Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (C/NF) Summary: Having watched the evolution of the Israeli relations issue in the context of the Mauritanian political crisis, we believe that the junta, particularly Foreign Minister Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, is deeply concerned about the repercussions of a formal break in the Mauritanian-Israeli relationship.

Full Document

O 171334Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8138 INFO AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY Content

C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000138 NOFORN

SECSTATE AF - A/DAS BOULWARE E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2021 TAGS: PREL, USAU, PGOV, MR, IS SUBJECT: MAURITANIAN RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL REF: A. STATE 14163 B. NOUAKCHOTT 6 C. NOUAKCHOTT 47 D. NOUAKCHOTT 101 E. NOUAKCHOTT 118 Classified By: CDA Cornelius Walsh, reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C/NF) Summary: Having watched the evolution of the Israeli relations issue in the context of the Mauritanian political crisis, we believe that the junta, particularly Foreign Minister Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, is deeply concerned about the repercussions of a formal break in the Mauritanian-Israeli relationship. Their steps to date, while detrimental to Israeli interests, have been incremental and hesitant. However, given the volatile nature of the issue, American engagement at this very sensitive time may be used by more radical members of the junta and its constituents, who have a planning horizon much more limited than that of the Foreign Minister, as a pretext to sever the relationship and free Mauritania from what they consider its onerous restraints. End Summary.

2. (U) Since the advent of the coup d’etat in early August, Embassy Nouakchott has observed and reported on the junta’s approach towards relations with Israel as well as the attitudes and statements of other participants in the current political crisis affecting Mauritania. Inasmuch as Israeli Ambassador Arbel had not presented his credentials prior to the coup and that Israel hewed to the western policy of non-recognition, this kept the issue off the table for some months. Always a delicate subject, it appeared that both the junta and its opponents preferred that the issue not enter their political world.

3. (U) The late December Israeli incursion into Gaza, however, changed the nature of the discussion. The junta found itself pressured by its domestic constituency, its opponents, and fellow Muslim states to cut relations with Israel as a show of solidarity with Gaza and the Muslim mainstream. Indeed, it appears that some states offered recognition and financial support for just such a gesture. Large and sometimes violent anti-Israeli demonstrations focused on the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott further forced the junta to address the issue. On the domestic front the junta appeared to be in a competition with its opponents as to which could be more anti-Israel than the other.

4. (C/NF) Despite these pressures, the junta has proceeded slowly and very carefully in its measures against the Israeli presence. It has recalled its Ambassador (Ref B), declared a freeze in relations (Ref C), almost surreptitiously closed its Embassy in Tel Aviv and removed its personnel (Ref D), and finally two weeks ago informally called the Israeli Ambassador and asked that he take "appropriate measures" regarding the freeze (Ref E). As of February 16, the Israeli Ambassador has not been contacted again by the junta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

5. (C/NF) We have sometimes considered the junta’s steps to be an attempt to have its cake and eat it as well, i.e., give the appearance of distancing itself from Israel while maintaining a straightened relationship. However, its hesitancy, its apparent rejection of blandishments from Iran, Libya and other players, and its rhetorical back and forth with the opposition lead us to believe that the junta is well aware of the serious consequences of an actual break in diplomatic relations. The formal break is indeed a card that the junta may wish to play at some point. However, indications until now have been that it will not do so without a pretext or an action that will allow it to gain an advantage either from international partners (it already has anti-sanction support from the Arab League) or against its domestic opponents.

6. (C/NF) Intervention at this point may be the pretext the junta desires/needs to make its final break. Using a USG reminder as the focus of its rupture would burnish the junta’s "eastern" credentials with a number of Muslim states. Having identified the United States as the most adamant of its international critics, the junta would also be tempted to use such an intervention to undermine our democratic credentials with the Abdallahi administration, the FNDD, and other parties with whom we have worked throughout the past six months. There are those, evidenced, in a recent article in a minor local newspaper "Points Chauds" who choose to see the sanctions question and the internationalization of the Mauritanian crisis as (in the words of the paper’s headline) "the Jewish lobby against the Arab pressure group, who will have the last word?" We would therefore recommend that the request outlined in Ref A be reconsidered.

7. (C/NF) Comment: In our conversations with the Israeli Ambassador we sense that the GOI does not realize that the full spectrum of political opinion in Mauritania, junta, anti-junta, and opportunistic, is opposed to continuing relations with Israel. The sole factor that has kept the junta from a full breach is its understanding that such a move would make its relations with the United States and the west that much more difficult. This is understood as well by the opposition parties which, while goading the junta to take action, do not make such a break a sine qua non in their own position papers. In our view, the Israelis could garner possible good will in the future were they to follow the Mauritanian lead and depart quietly and unofficially to return just as quietly when conditions here and in the Middle East improve. There is, of course, the danger that this would be another pretext for a formal break but there is also the possibility that the junta and/or any follow-on administration would consider such discretion as a positive factor in the future. End Comment.

HANKINS

08NOUAKCHOTT739 Date17/12/2008 03:14 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationSECRET Header

Excerpt from document summary (C) Charge met December 15 with the pro-Abdallahi senator of Mbout in Gorgol Province, Youssouf Tijani Sylla, who renewed his October warning (REFTEL) that Afro-Mauritanians were prepared to take up arms against the coup. Sylla, who is half White Moor and half Sonnike who presents himself as a champion of Black Moor Haratines and Afro-Mauritanians.

Full Document VZCZCXRO8618 RR RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0739 3521514 ZNY SSSSS ZZH R 171514Z DEC 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7939 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0392 RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0314 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0368 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 1910 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0701 RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0434 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0809 Content S E C R E T NOUAKCHOTT 000739 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2013 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ASEC, MR SUBJECT: RISK OF ETHNIC-BASED ARMED RESISTANCE? REF: NOUAKCHOTT 582 Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Dennis Hankins for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (C) Charge met December 15 with the pro-Abdallahi senator of Mbout in Gorgol Province, Youssouf Tijani Sylla, who renewed his October warning (REFTEL) that Afro-Mauritanians were prepared to take up arms against the coup. Sylla, who is half White Moor and half Sonnike who presents himself as a champion of Black Moor Haratines and Afro-Mauritanians. Sylla told Charge, "we are prepared to wait six months (i.e. until early February) and, if the military is still in power, we will take up arms." He confidently said an armed uprising would be quick and effective saying, "this isn’t a real army. Once two shots are fired they’ll hide their weapons, take off their uniforms, and run away." Sylla said he had already met with the Malians and would meet with the Algerian ambassador later in the day and that he was confident those countries would support an armed uprising. Sylla, who in October said he was in contact with FLAM in Senegal, said he could not count on Senegalese support because of President Wade’s apparent acceptance of the coup.

2. (C) As in October, Charge firmly told Sylla the U.S. did not support any idea of armed resistance. Sylla’s concept that an uprising would be fast and effective seemed a fantasy
— particularly if largely White Moor military leaders saw this as a black versus white conflict. Charge ran through the various international, domestic and economic pressures on the regime that made the departure of Aziz a real possibility. Even if Aziz stays on, Charge warned that a strategy to remove him based on violence was fraught with risks and uncertainty — risks that could end up in a situation far worse than before.

3. (S) Comment: The two meetings with Sylla are the only two open indications of any possible planning for ethnic-based armed resistance. We sent a Mission delegation for a week-long run through the largely Afro-Mauritanian provinces along the Senegal River looking for signs of bubbling ethnic tensions and found none. That said, there are clear baathist sentiments among many of the junta’s leaders that would tend to shift Mauritania back to a strongly pro-Arab identify from the "Arab / African Crossroads" image advocated by Abdallahi. Reporting in other channels has suggested the delivery of at least one shipment of small arms to FNDD militants. While potentially significant, we have too few data points at present to judge this a serious short-term risk. End Comment. HANKINS

09NOUAKCHOTT269 Date14/04/2009 01:52 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationSECRET//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (S - N/F) Summary: The FNDD sees opportunity in General Aziz’s upcoming resignation to work on internal divisions in his support base — hopefully leaving him out in the cold. Diplomatic activities (including travel by President Abdallahi) will continue as will open resistance. The FNDD fears France as a spoiler. Sanctions, as always, are seen as critical.

Full Document VZCZCXRO9411 PP RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0269/01 1041352 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 141352Z APR 09 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8327 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0601 RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0523 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0585 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 2128 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0933 RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 0158 RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1042 Content S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NOUAKCHOTT 000269 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MR SUBJECT: THE FNDD’S INTERIM STRATEGY Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Dennis Hankins for reason 1.4 (b and d )

1. (S - N/F) Summary: The FNDD sees opportunity in General Aziz’s upcoming resignation to work on internal divisions in his support base — hopefully leaving him out in the cold. Diplomatic activities (including travel by President Abdallahi) will continue as will open resistance. The FNDD fears France as a spoiler. Sanctions, as always, are seen as critical. End Summary

2. (S - N/F) Dragging Out Aziz’ Limbo: Charge met April 13 at the embassy with FNDD "Foreign Minister" Mohamed Ould Maouloud to discuss the Front’s strategy in coming weeks. Ould Maouloud said, "we are avoiding anything that might cause Aziz to change his mind about resigning," saying they see opportunity to reverse the coup once he relinquishes his formal ties to power. While never accepting the electoral plan put forward by Aziz, the FNDD will do whatever it can to get a postponement of the date (if they can’t get the election canceled all together). Ould Maouloud said that as soon as Aziz resigns, President Abdallahi will send a letter to the President of the Constitutional Council trying to pre-empt any statement that there is a "presidential vacancy" that would allow President of the Senate Ba M’Bare to assume the interim presidency. Charge shared the highlights of his previous conversation with the President of the Constitutional Council and suggested the FNDD may also want to have President of the National Assembly Messaoud Ould Boulkheir challenge M’Bare’s succession since it would be difficult to dodge a complain from the President of the National Assembly whose legitimacy is not subject to debate. Charge also noted the possibility of finding a candidate to challenge Aziz’ ability to run for president under the provisions of the Africa Charter, ratified by MauriQnia, which bars coup leaders from running for office. Ould Maouloud said he was not confident the Constitutional Council would "do the right thing" if put on the spot noting they had a mixed record to date — knocking down Aziz’ efforts to expel Ould Boulkheir from the National Assembly presidency but also giving its blessing to the CENI electoral commission appointed by the regime. That said, Ould Maouloud said they would put challenges in front of the Constitutional Council as a delaying tactic. Should they win, the FNDD will be thrilled. If they lose, they will denounce the process as further evidence of Aziz’ manipulation of the system.

3. (S - N/F) Looking for betrayals: Ould Maouloud said they saw the possibility that some of those whom Aziz is putting in place to watch out for his interests in the interim between his resignation and the elections could turn against him. The FNDD is focused particularly on General Ghazwany as someone who might "get up the courage" to abandon General Aziz — with the chance of that happening increasing the longer Aziz is technically a civilian. Ould Maouloud understood that General Aziz will try to maintain behind-the-scenes control of the BASEP Presidential Security Battalion even after he sheds his uniform. He believes Ghazwany is bristling at that interference — which makes the BASEP more a personal militia than ever. Were Ghazwany to abandon Aziz politically, Ould Maouloud believes Aziz would try to come back by force by using the BASEP as well as Tuareg fighters provided by Malian Tuareg leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga. Were the occasion to arise, Ould Maouloud suggested that, "beyond four or five BASEP officers who are personally loyal to Aziz," the BASEP itself would not necessarily come out in force against other military units. As for the Tuareg, Ould Maouloud sees them as too far away for what, if it ever happens, he would expect to be a rapid change. When asked whether the President and FNDD leadership had discussed what they would offer Ghazwany if he were to turn on Aziz, Ould Maouloud discussed the possibility of naming Ghazwany as a greatly empowered Minister of Defense (abolishing the long-held "real military power" held by the Presidential Personal Military Chief of Staff previously held by Aziz and shifting that power to civilian control). Ould Maouloud emphasized that these types of scenarios are being discussed but added, "the problem with being a Front is that WE ARE A Front," meaning that this type of sensitive discussion has to be held at the level of a far smaller group of which he is a member.

4. (S - N/F) Ould Maouloud believed President of the Senate M’Bare could also renege on his understanding with Aziz. He sees M’Bare as a very weak person, however, so he assumes M’Bare would be at best a "follower" of a wave against Aziz. Ould Maouloud also did not discount the possibility of a double-cross by intelligence chief General Hady, but he was not as sure the result of a Hady-led action against Aziz would be as positive as one led by Ghazwany.

5. (S - N/F) Ould Maouloud emphasized that targeted sanctions and a clear international denunciation of the electoral process would be essential in getting Aziz’ putative allies to turn on him. Ould Maouloud hoped Uganda would move forward on a Security Council PRST denouncing coups in Africa although he was worried the Ugandans were being dissuaded by Libya. Ould Maouloud worried that previously strong political support from Algeria was fading in favor of a "security agenda" being pushed by Algerian military and intelligence services.

6. (S - N/F) French Spoilers: Ould Maouloud said the greatest FNDD concern was that, while they might be able get Ghazwany and others to abandon Aziz politically, the French intelligence services might intervene to get Ghazwany to stick with Aziz’ game plan.

7. (S - N/F) Comment: The FNDD is not unrealistic enough to believe that Aziz’ allies are likely to turn on him, but they do believe it could happen. Lacking their own forces, the FNDD cannot mount a counter-coup but must hope for a continually deteriorating economy and internal rivalries to spark a revolt (they don’t see Aziz ever backing away through a political settlement). Aziz’ desire to seek the veneer of legitimacy by going to elections through a short-lived civilian transition government is seen by the FNDD as a moment of vulnerability they can exploit. At the same time, Aziz got to where he is today through a mastery of palace intrigue. Overtly or behind-the-curtain, Aziz has been running security for some time now and knows how to stage and how to counter coups. He will now be at his point of maximum awareness. The FNDD is, unfortunately, poorly placed to influence the military inner circle. Most of the FNDD leaders consider themselves intellectuals who have never developed relations with the coarser military — who generally come from warrior tribes. We know there is personal resentment against Aziz within the military, but we do not know its depth or whether any of the military would run the risk of turning on Aziz.

HANKINS

09NOUAKCHOTT308 Date29/04/2009 05:26 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (C/NF) Summary: Senator Sylla stated he and a group of anti-coup activists are determined to stop Aziz and derail upcoming elections, through violence if necessary. To this end, he wants to obtain arms and logistical support from the Israelis, and have Post serve as an intermediary between the two parties to facilitate contact.

Full Document VZCZCXRO2442 PP RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0308/01 1191726 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 291726Z APR 09 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8384 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0619 RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0556 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0966 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 2161 RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0634 RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 0191 RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0281 RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0634 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1075 Content C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NOUAKCHOTT 000308 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/29/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, MR SUBJECT: SENATOR SYLLA: OUR RECURRING VIOLENT BIT ACTOR REF: A. NOUAKCHOTT 215 B. 08 NOUAKCHOTT 739 C. 08 NOUAKCHOTT 582 D. NOUAKCHOTT 220 Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Dennis Hankins for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C/NF) Summary: Senator Sylla stated he and a group of anti-coup activists are determined to stop Aziz and derail upcoming elections, through violence if necessary. To this end, he wants to obtain arms and logistical support from the Israelis, and have Post serve as an intermediary between the two parties to facilitate contact. President Abdallahi previously distanced himself from Sylla’s agenda — an agenda that is likely delusional Post plans to cut off contact. End summary.

2. (C/NF) PolAsst met with Senator Youssef Ould Tijani Sylla of M’Bout, at his request, on April 29. A well-known visitor to the Embassy (Refs A, B, and C), in previous meetings Sylla has frequently called for more radical opposition to the coup. Sylla began this meeting by summarizing his recent trip to Portugal, Spain, and France, rattling off the various figures he met with. He also held interviews with Portuguese TV and radio "to explain the Mauritanian situation." (Note: Sylla speaks Portuguese fluently. End note.) He then cut to the real point of the meeting. "We have a problem," he said gravely. General Aziz has threatened to cut ties with the US after he is elected, and after that, the Europeans may be next, he stated. This would leave the anti-coup activists out in the cold, subject to "being killed or put in prison," and the junta free to fully embrace Libya and Iran. Aziz must be stopped, he said, and to do that "We need arms through the support of Israel." Money was of no interest, he said; "we are ready to sacrifice our lives" to stop the coup. When asked to clarify what he meant by "stopping" Aziz, he said "capture or liquidate him." PolAsst noted that the USG did not support violent resistance, even if it were in the name of restoring democracy and overturning a coup, but Sylla was undeterred.

3. (C/NF) As for logistics, Sylla said all they would need is "four or five cars, some AK-47s and machine guns." Fifty men at most would be sufficient he said, remarking that he had three sons of his own, and could discreetly assemble a "good team" in his home district of M’Bout. Noting that Aziz was not well protected these days, he would be easy to take out, he reasoned. (Note: Indeed, Aziz has been spotted several times around various parts of Nouakchott with minimal or no visible personal protection. End note.) PolAsst asked what his plan would be after Aziz was removed — "Abdallahi will come back as President" and there would be no more constitutional problems, he said. When pressed about what Generals Ghazouani, Hadi, and others in the military and security services would do if Aziz were eliminated, Sylla said they would do "nothing." Sylla stated that this course of action had already been decided upon; "now we just need the means." He said if there were no political consensus found soon, his group would want to be ready to act by the start of the official campaign. (Note: The campaign starts officially on May 21 and ends on June 4. End note.) Sylla reasoned that during the campaign would be the easiest time to make an attempt on Aziz, as he will be meeting with people constantly. "It would be very easy for someone wearing a boubou (customary Mauritanian dress for males) to conceal a weapon and infiltrate a meeting," he said.

4. (C/NF) Sylla asked for Post to provide him with contact information for the Israeli ambassador for Mauritania so he could make initial contact. Noting that time was of the essence given the compacted electoral calendar, he stated several times that this was "very urgent." (Note: Sylla stated that he had not/not met with any Israeli diplomats during his recent trip to Europe. End note.) He said he would prefer contact with the Israelis to be initiated by the NOUAKCHOTT 00000308 002 OF 002 US Embassy and stated the necessity of having a "logistical plan in place to aid this group of Mauritanian democrats who want your support."

5. (C/NF) Sylla said he had recently met with National Assembly President Messaoud Ould Boulkheir to discuss the current situation. When PolAsst asked if Boulkheir was in agreement with this plan to obtain arms, Sylla replied "If he isn’t in agreement, he is almost in agreement."

6. (C/NF) Comment: A serial name dropper, Sylla frequently cites others (e.g., Abdallahi, Boulkheir, etc.) in conversations in an attempt to lend legitimacy to his own plans. During Charge’s last visit to President Abdallahi in Lemden (Ref D), Charge asked about Sylla, since he often boasted of meeting with Abdallahi and liked to suggest he was acting on behalf of the President and/or the FNDD leadership. Abdallahi praised Sylla for his "clear anti-coup position." When Charge noted Sylla was the most radical anti-coup figure he had met yet due to his advocacy of violence and plans to obtain arms from Israel, Abdallahi chuckled and said, "We did not discuss THAT, I can assure you." Abdallahi reiterated that their struggle was a peaceful one, but conceded that Sylla did have a "hot streak."

7. (C/NF) Comment continued: There are several problems with Sylla’s "plan," not the least of which is that should his group succeed in killing Aziz, it is highly unlikely that Ghazouani, Hadi, and others would sit by and do "nothing" (particularly given the fact that Sylla and his associates are not White Moor). Moreover, weapons can be obtained relatively easily in Mauritania; if Sylla merely wanted to assemble a cache of weapons, he would hardly need American or Israeli assistance to do so. There is always the possibility that Sylla is leading a false flag operation on behalf of Aziz to goad the US into giving support to his plan, whereupon the press would have a field day and Aziz could trumpet "foreign interference" to rally support. End comment.

8. (C/NF) Next Steps: We have met Sylla enough times to determine he is not worth meeting again. We have consistently held a strong position against armed action but he keeps coming back. We would have cut off contacts long ago — indeed, Charge passed on Sylla’s most recent urgent request for a meeting to PolAsst — but for the fact that he is a senator, does have some limited weight in Afro-Mauritanian circles, and meets occasionally with Abdallahi. Months old rumors of FNDD small arms procurement indicated someone might be planning an armed response to the coup. If that someone was Sylla, we wanted early warning. If there is something behind Sylla’s plots (we are skeptical), the signs are that Sylla would prove someone worse than Aziz.

HANKINS

09NOUAKCHOTT333 Date17/05/2009 08:40 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationSECRET Header Excerpt from document summary (C) Summary: Ambassador called on the junta "Foreign Minister" on May 12 amid a wave of negative press featuring accusations of improper interference by the Embassy in internal affairs, an apparent GIRM suspension of visa issuances for official Americans, and attempts to limit in-country USG diplomatic travel.

Full Document VZCZCXRO8011 RR RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0333/01 1370840 ZNY SSSSS ZZH R 170840Z MAY 09 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8422 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0660 RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0582 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0645 RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 2187 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0992 RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 0217 RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1103 Content S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NOUAKCHOTT 000333 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2014 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ODIP, MR SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S CALL ON JUNTA "FOREIGN MINISTER" REF: A. NOUACKCHOTT 512 B. NOUAKCHOTT 330 NOUAKCHOTT 00000333 001.2 OF 002 Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CLASSIFICATION CHANGE)

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador called on the junta "Foreign Minister" on May 12 amid a wave of negative press featuring accusations of improper interference by the Embassy in internal affairs, an apparent GIRM suspension of visa issuances for official Americans, and attempts to limit in-country USG diplomatic travel. Ambassador advised that USG policy opposing the coup and attempts to legitimize it through unilateral elections remained constant although the USG hoped for progress in ongoing mediation. He urged that efforts be made to maintain as normal a relationship as possible given respective positions, protested attempts to limited mission travel and advised that inaction of visas threatened remaining USG programs of mutual interest. The "Minister" warned against "inappropriate activities" and blamed slow visa issuance on newly tightened controls such those the USG has, but said that he would look into the matter.

2. (C) Ambassador called on junta "Foreign Minister" Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on May 12 and within days of his return to post against a backdrop of an organized campaign against the Embassy by the junta government and pro-coup forces. A wave of negative press in the days before the Ambassador’s return featured calls that DCM Hankins (then Charge) be declared persona non grata and accused the Embassy and our democracy partner NDI of improper interference in the internal affairs of Mauritania implying USG financing of pro-democracy parties (ref A). At the same time, the GIRM, already painfully slow to respond to our visa requests, seemed virtually to stop the process altogether while the Foreign Ministry pronounced "inopportune" a planned trip by the Embassy’s political officer to a southern town to meet with police and local election commission officials (ref B).

3. (C) The Ambassador noted that he had requested the meeting in order to share his perspective on US policy toward Mauritania following his stay in Washington as well as to raise some administrative concerns. Regarding the former, he said that notwithstanding the change in administration, the USG continued to oppose the coup d’tat and the junta’s unilateral decision to organize early elections. He went on to say that we were nonetheless hopeful that a consensual solution for a return to constitutional order acceptable to the international community could still be found and that we were closely following Senegalese mediation efforts.

4. (C) "Foreign Minister" Mohamedou replied that in spite of preparations for elections the GIRM remained open to such mediation but that if it were not successful, the GIRM would carry out the decision of the Estates General on Democracy to hold those elections. He said that it was time for the USG to review its policy and insisted that there was no longer a military regime as General Aziz had stepped down to become a "simple citizen" while the High Council of State’s role was now limited to security matters. He argued that Mauritania was on its way back to constitutionality and that the US should support that and realize that the measures such as the targeted travel sanctions in the wake of the coup should be removed.

5. (C) Ambassador Boulware noted that absent consensual agreement, it was unlikely that the elections as currently planned would produce any significant change in USG policy. He urged that, nonetheless both the Ministry and the Embassy work to preserve as much harmony in the relationship as possible consistent with the positions of our respective governments. To that end, the Ambassador expressed concern that the Ministry appeared to have virtually stopped visa issuances for official Americans and that these delays were beginning to impact longstanding programs like the Peace Corps that were clearly in our mutual interest. Mohamedou denied any detailed knowledge about pending visa requests but said that when he had taken charge of the ministry he found the visa approval process chaotic and introduced procedures NOUAKCHOTT 00000333 002.2 OF 002 C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CLASSIFICATION CHANGE) to properly screen and vet applications"just as you do"and that this was necessarily somewhat time consuming. He promised, though, to look into the matter.

6. (C) Similarly, the Ambassador noted our surprise that a routine diplomatic note advising it of a planned mission to the southern town of Rosso to meet with local police and election commission officials had resulted in a responding note advising that the trip was "inopportune." Mohamedou said that he thought the point of the trip was strange and said that "the President" agreed (presumably interim "President" Ba M’Bare). He also noted that the security situation was delicate and had to be taken into account. Ambassador Boulware stated that the Embassy does not request permission to travel within Mauritania nor is that required under conventions. He observed that notifications of planned travel were a simple courtesy enabling the GIRM to take any advisable security measures but said further that we will continue to seek meetings with local officials whenever we thought it useful. Mohamedou responded that Mauritania had to remain vigilant against inappropriate behavior such as in the "recent affair of the Iranians in Morocco."

7. (S) Comment: It is not yet clear whether, as some sensitive reporting suggests, that the visa slow down and attempts to limit movements by Embassy staff are the individual initiatives of "Minister" Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou or rather are part of a broader effort by pro-junta elements to put the Embassy on the defensive, limit its effectiveness or extract a higher price for USG opposition to the coup. While unwilling to compromise on fundamental issues neither do we intend to be drawn into an escalating diplomatic row at this moment that can only distract from the current mediation attempts. If there is no sign of improvement following the Ambassador’s intervention, we will insure that our concerns and possible consequences are made known to a wider circle of authorities in the hope that the "Minister" will be corrected. BOULWARE

09NOUAKCHOTT463 Date16/07/2009 04:57 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (U) The EAC met on Thursday July 16, 2009, to assess the security situation for the upcoming election period. The first round of elections will be held on Saturday July, 18, 2009, and a run-off, if needed, will be held on August 1, 2009.

Full Document P 161657Z JUL 09 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8637 Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000463 NOFORN DEPT FOR DS/RD/AF, DS/IP/ITA, E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2019 TAGS: ASEC, CASC, MR, PTER SUBJECT: NOUAKCHOTT - EMERGENCY ACTION COMMITTEE (EAC) MEETING ON UPCOMING ELECTIONS

Classified By: Ambassador Mark Boulware for reason 1.4 (c) 1. (U) The EAC met on Thursday July 16, 2009, to assess the security situation for the upcoming election period. The first round of elections will be held on Saturday July, 18, 2009, and a run-off, if needed, will be held on August 1, 2009.

2. (U) The EAC agreed that the elections will probably take place in a generally orderly fashion although it recognized the low probability but still credible risks of another attempted coup if General Aziz is seen to be losing or of popular unrest if he is seen to be winning (particularly in an unlikely first-round win). The EAC concurred there is a risk of large crowds gathering — particularly as election results start to come in the evening of the 18th and into the morning of the 19th. The EAC noted that past demonstrations have turned violent and clashed with police and/or military forces in Nouakchott.

3. (S) The DCM noted a recent YouTube video claimed to be from AQIM denouncing all the candidates but noted we had no credible information of an AQIM plan for actions related to the elections — although Al Qaeda has done so in the past in other countries.

4. (C) EAC was advised by DCM that previous plans to send Embassy Officers to voting sites in Nema, Selibaby and Zouerate, as election monitors, had been canceled. This, as a result of the Mauritanian Foreign Minister’s decision to decline a US offer to fly the offer for monitors to those cities. The Mission will seek accreditation of four embassy monitors — two in Nouakchott and one each in Akjoujt and Rosso — traveling with LES staff.

5. (S) Peace Corps (PC) Director advised EAC that all current (approximately 72 in country) Nouakchott Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s) will "stand fast" during Saturday’s election, and "see how it goes on Sunday." PC Director indicated that all PCV’s would continue to follow RSO security recommendations, and advise Post if any assistance is needed. EAC concurred.

6. (S) Ambassador requested RSO security recommendations for EAC for July 18th and 19th and was provided with the following:
- Limit vehicular travel throughout Nouakchott during the election period.
- Remain indoors (residence) or at the Embassy (if required to work) when possible, in order to limit your exposure.
- Avoid areas south of Gamel Abdel Nasser Street where the Saudi Mosque, Moroccan Mosque, Labor Unions, and markets are located.
- Avoid public and private school areas where polling sites are usually located.
- Keep Embassy radios turned on and on hand at all times (and in vehicle if required to travel) in order to monitor RSO/Post 1 traffic.
- Keep Post 1 and/or other embassy officers apprised of whereabouts.

7. (SBU) The EAC recommended issuance of a Consular Warden Message alerting U.S. citizens to the risk of spontaneous unrest during the elections and advising citizens to avoid crowds and remain particularly alert. The Warden Message, approved by the CA OCS Duty Officer, was released the morning of the 16th.

8. (S) EAC was further advised by RSO of Police intent to provide security at numerous polling sites around the city, and that they (police) were expecting some level of aggression and/or disruption during the elections. Police Rovers (mobile police units) were being dispersed throughout the city and Mauritanian Riot Police were being put on stand-by. RSO also informed EAC that SD team members would be monitoring various locations throughout Nouakchott and reporting any issues involving security directly to RSO staff.

9. (U) The EAC determined that the present security posture for Post is adequate, and will continue to monitor events in Nouakchott. BOULWARE

10NOUAKCHOTT11 Date10/01/2010 03:53 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationSECRET//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary For the month of December 2009, Embassy Noakchott has no additional Visas Viper submissions. However, as part of normal procedures, a Consular officer will periodically run namechecks of individuals submitted via TD reports to be sure names submitted in TD reporting are being added into the CLASS system.

Full Document VZCZCXYZ0002 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHNK #0011 0101553 ZNY SSSSS ZZH R 101553Z JAN 10 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9009 Content S E C R E T NOUAKCHOTT 000011 NOFORN SIPDIS INR/TIPOFF, CA/VO/L/C, FBI WASHINGTON, DC//INTD//CTD/CTWATCH, CIA WASHINGTON, DC, NCTC WASHINGTON DC//TIG//, US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON, DC, DIRNSA FT GEORGE G MEADE, MD, DIA WASHINGTON, DC E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2020 TAGS: ASEC, CVIS, KVPR, MR, PINR, PTER SUBJECT: EMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT’S DECEMBER 2009 VISAS VIPER REPORT Classified By: Ambassador Mark M.Boulware for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (U) VISAS VIPER

2. (U) POST: NOUAKCHOTT Meeting Date: January 5, 2009 Chair: DCM: Dennis Hankins Coordinator: Stephen Kochuba, Consular Officer Attendees: RAO, RSO, DAO, CONS, POL

3. (S/NF) For the month of December 2009, Embassy Noakchott has no additional Visas Viper submissions. However, as part of normal procedures, a Consular officer will periodically run namechecks of individuals submitted via TD reports to be sure names submitted in TD reporting are being added into the CLASS system.

4. (S/NF) A random review of TD submissions indicates that some of the names submitted via TDs for the month of December 2009 do not appear in the results generated through an Independent Namecheck of the CLASS system. These entries include: Abderrahman ben Meddou (submitted in TD-314/085533-09) Benahi ould Ahmed (TD-314/086805-09)

5. (S/NF) Post requests clarification on why names submitted through the TD process have not been included in the CLASS system. BOULWARE

08NOUAKCHOTT421 Date11/08/2008 09:47 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (C) Ambassador received a message from Presidential protocol the afternoon of August 9, inviting him to meet with individually with General Aziz. Once US and EU Ambassadors determined that General Aziz preferred meeting with us individually rather than to receive the joint demarche, the ambassadors agreed that each would attend the meeting, hear what the General had to say

Full Document O 110947Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7471 INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY AMEMBASSY DOHA PRIORITY AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY CIA WASHDC PRIORITY HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000421 E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2018 TAGS: PREL, ASEC, CASC, EAID, MR SUBJECT: SITREP 6: COUP IN MAURITANIA Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for reasons 1.4 (b and d)


Saturday Demarches on General Aziz


1. (C) Ambassador received a message from Presidential protocol the afternoon of August 9, inviting him to meet with individually with General Aziz. Once US and EU Ambassadors determined that General Aziz preferred meeting with us individually rather than to receive the joint demarche, the ambassadors agreed that each would attend the meeting, hear what the General had to say, reiterate our respective general national positions of condemnation and decline to discuss the situation more concretely until we were able to deliver our joint demarche.

2. (C) Ambassador Boulware was received at 5:30 pm just after the French Ambassador. President Abdallahi’s protocol staff appeared intact and the Ambassador was initially received by holdover Chief of Staff of the Presidency Cheyakh Ould Ely. General Aziz received the Ambassador in President Abdallahi’s ceremonial office and launched into the now well-rehearsed litany of Abdallahi’s supposed incompetence, corruption, abuse of power and neglect of national security. He indicated that he had proof that President Abdallahi had personally authorized bribes to members of the national Assembly to keep them in his PNDD/ADIL party (note: previous assertions of corruption had focused on Abdallahi’s family and associates). He claimed that President Abdallahi had illegally abused his authority by refusing to accept the National Assembly’s petition for a special session on the grounds that it was signed by the Vice-President rather than the President of the Assembly. Conversely Aziz claimed that Abdallahi’s own decree firing the military leadership was illegal in that he had not routed it through the Minister Secretary General of the Presidency, the "only legal means for issuing a decree." Not dismissing the officers in person and in the presence of the Minister of Defense also made the firings fatally flawed.

3. (C) Ambassador Boulware noted Secretary Rice’s strong condemnation of the coup, recalled the views he expressed in his initial conversation with Aziz and observed that the same strong message had been passed along through the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington. As had been agreed with EU Ambassadors, Ambassador Boulware urged that the group be received as soon as possible to receive our collective demarche. Aziz indicated that he "understood" the position of the US and the EU. He said further that President Abdallahi

was well taken care of and being seen by his personal physician and asserted that he wished no harm come to anyone.

4. (C) The French Ambassador confirmed that other appointments had followed the same lines and that Aziz had assured him that he agreed in principle to receive he group the following day. Although no journalists were present, Ambassadors were photographed and filmed entering the Presidency and seated with General Aziz. Firms clips were shown on Mauritanian television newscasts simply noting the meetings had taken place and captioned photos, without commentary, were published in the official press.


Sunday Joint Demarche


5. (C) On the afternoon of August 10, Ambassador Boulware and UNDP Resident Representative Ribeiro joined with French Ambassador Vandepoorter, as leader of an EU group (including Spanish Ambassador Polanco and German Ambassador Schanz and the acting head of the EU Commission) in a joint demarche on General Aziz. Ambassador Vandepoorter noting broad international support made the agreed upon demarche. He emphasized international condemnation, the release of President Abdallahi along with access to him, the rejection of unilaterally organized presidential elections, and a return to constitutional order. He urged that the General consider the very negative impact of the coup on Mauritania’s image and the potential for the country to be isolated from the international community. Ambassador Boulware underscored that the USG associated itself completely with the demarche and each of its elements, urging that the junta take quick action in the hopes that our current suspension of assistance not become definitive.

6. (C) General Aziz repeated yet again the now standard string of grievances that he had articulated to Ambassador Boulware during their individual meeting yesterday. He insisted that President Abdallahi had brought the coup on himself through his actions, omissions and excesses. He emphasized even more the highly irregular late-night measures undertaken by the President—at the residence, not even in the office and much less through any official chain—to fire the complete military leadership and to replace them with men who were incapable of leading their command and who very attempt to do so could have provoked "catastrophe." Aziz claimed that the junta had not sought power but that faced with emergent and very dangerous circumstances took the "decision that seemed best" for the country. He said that he understood the condemnation and that a coup was by nature condemnable, but also warned that condemnations gave aid and comfort to those who had "another agenda." The French Ambassador urged an end to extra-constitutional rule that was not good for the country and noted that Mauritania’s friends were ready to help to find a way out of the current crisis. The Spanish Ambassador urged that the junta better articulate its intentions as the basis of a possible dialogue. In concluding the exchange Ambassador Vandepoorter again urged "concrete acts" upon the General recommending, in particular, freeing President Abdallahi immediately. Aziz promised to continue to keep the door open for dialogue.

7. (C) Comment: Aziz was clearly less at ease and more defensive in the group setting. International pressure is clearly having some impact on him and his description of the coup as a course that "seemed best" at the time might indicate some tentative second thoughts. The articulation of a strong common position is a very positive development but we continue to believe that international pressure would work best if complemented by the engagement of a well placed, friendly interlocutor who might actively help the Generals think out an exit strategy. At present, it is clear that they have little at all in the way of a strategy and are continuing to improvise.


The Envoys


8. (c) Representatives of the Maghreb Arab Union, the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations have all visited Mauritania in he past few days. While the African Union and UN have taken a hard line relative to the coup, the Arab organizations have left the country with public remarks stating they were reassured after meeting with General Aziz that Mauritania remains on the path of stability and democracy. Aziz met Saturday morning with Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Ben Hilli who, like Secretary General of Maghreb Arab Union Lehbib Ben Yahya on Thursday, made tepid statements highlighting the assurances General Aziz had provided for an early return to democracy. Statements by UN Special Representative for West Africa Said Djinnit took a tougher line in public comments raising the international community’s rejection of the coup while offering good offices to re-establish democratic government. Ambassador met evening of August 9 with Djinnit after his meeting with Aziz. Djinnit noted the strong reaction of the international community but noted the U.N. works more slowly than the AU which had quickly taken firm action to what Djinnit termed "the continuation of the same (2005) coup." Djinnit indicated he was working closely with the AU and, responding to the weaker positions taken by the Arab League, said his experience with the Arab League when the AU suspended Commoros was that the Arab League will follow the AU lead if somewhat reluctantly.


The Case of Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba


9. (C) DCM met August 9 with Mohedyn Ould Sidi Baba, son of detained President of the three-week old Economic and Social Council Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba. The younger Sidi Baba, who has been perhaps the Mission’s most important working-level contact as Director for Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance and Economy, sought Embassy assistance in obtaining information concerning his father.

10. (C) The Father: Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba is a long-term behind the scenes politician for decades. He has been a friend of President Abdallahi since the 1950’s and, according to his son, is one of Adballahi’s few friends who can say "you are an idiot" to his face. According to the son, there is no logical political reason for his father to be arrested since the father held no position of authority or influence
— rather, the arrest was a punishment for political opposition to Aziz. Reportedly, the elder Sidi Baba stood at a large political confab early in the political crisis leading to the collapse of the first Waghef government to say, "This is bull, we all know the crisis is all because of the generals. It is time for the President to start acting like one and stand up to them." The message was reportedly passed to Sidi Baba the same night that Aziz saw this as a "declaration of war" to which Sidi Baba said essentially "bring it on." President Abdallahi’s decision to name Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba to the Economic and Social Council on July 23 was seen by Aziz as a direct affront according to the son. Talking to his father between President Abadallah’s announcement sacking the generals and his own arrest, Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba said, "Abdallahi is an idiot. He knows nothing about the security forces and has no idea how they will react." Since his arrest, Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba has had no verbal contact with his family although messages have been transmitted asking for clothes, medicine and reading material. 68-year-old Sidi Baba is said to be in good health needing only eye drops on a regular basis. He reportedly cut his hand prior to being arrested for which the family sent anti-tetanus medication.

11. (C) The Son: Mohedyn Ould Sidi Baba has been a vital player in building Mauritania’s relations with the IMF, World Bank and donors. His tireless work was instrumental to Mauritania’s consideration for the MCC and re-establishing confidence with the IMF. The appointment of new Economy and Finance Minister Sidi Ould Tah, who Sidi Baba termed "one of the generals’ ministers," was already indicating his exit as the Minister had termed him "a liability." Sidi Baba was already being by bypassed and expected to be fired. He noted that former Minister Vezzaz, "was scared — he tried playing both sides and failed." Sidi Baba noted that his father’s political position always drew attention to him and that the Deputy Secretary General (General Ghazwani’s first cousin) constantly scrutinized his work to find something to catch him on. Sidi Baba predicted he would be arrested soon for tying to pursue his father’s case. Indeed, a room-mate from his hometown showed up at the cafe where DCM and Sidi Baba were meeting 5 minutes after the meeting started and immediately assumed a "minder" position nearby. Sidi Baba said it was no coincidence.

12. (C) The Political Situation: Sidi Baba did not see the coup as a surprise saying the generals had been planning something for months. He noted, however, that Abdallahi’s decision to fire the generals (something his father said should have and could have been done during Abdallahi’s early honeymoon period) had caught them off guard and had forced an immediate coup by force versus the longer-term "constitutional coup" they had been trying to put together where, after some show investigations for corruption, would have led to impeachment. Sidi Baba noted that while Abdallahi may have underestimated Aziz’s reaction, the coup was not going well for Aziz. He cautioned the U.S. not to see the lack of mass protests as a sign of public indifference noting that, unlike past coups, there were - in fact - some counter demonstrations and, more importantly, significant public opposition by key political leaders, civil society and elites. He noted that several minister had said they would resign and that a number of governors and regional military commanders had refused to recognize Aziz’s authority. Sidi Baba also said Aziz had misjudged his international support saying Aziz had told the military hierarchy recently that "France and the U.S. support me" pointing to an extended trip he made to France and the then-pending visit of a number of U.S. generals under NDU’s Capstone program. The strong negative French and U.S. reaction, then, was a surprise. Sidi Baba noted that French President Sarkozy’s reference to holding the coup leaders "personally responsible" could be very effective since both Aziz and Ghazwany have a significant personal assets — he indicated both had profited handsomely in the sale of a cellular phone license to Sudan’s SUDATEL that resulted in the Chinguetel cellular phone network. (Comment — In a subsequent call, Sidi Baba noted his deputy Secretary General (Ghazwany’s cousin) had called asking what the French might be talking about with "personal responsibility." Sidi Baba outlined the types of travel bans and asset seizures that had been used in other situations and told DCM the possibility of personal sanctions had caused significant concern among the coup leadership. End comment.) Sidi Baba noted that while western and AU response to the coup has been strong, the Arab response is weak. Morocco is seen by Sidi Baba as, at least, complicit in the coup. Sidi Baba sees Col. Vall as "the man behind the generals" suggesting Aziz and Ghazwany may still be getting their orders from him. Sidi Baba indicated Vall has reportedly ended his intensive English course in Ireland and is now consulting with the Moroccans. Sidi Baba is not overly optimistic of a political turn-around, but stressed that Aziz has not pulled off an easy success. Continued strong criticism from abroad with internal passive resistance may, in his view, force Aziz to look for an out. Exile in Morocco could be an option but is not viable unless and until Aziz (and perhaps the Moroccans) see the coup as a failure.


Other Reactions


13. (SBU) President of National Assembly denounces coup: In an August 10 press conference, President of the National Assembly Messoud Ould Boulkheir refused to recognize the new High State Council saying it was widely condemned and anti-constitutional. He rejected any effort to amend the constitution to legitimize a relationship between the National Assembly and the High State Council and declared that President Abdallahi was the only legitimate president and that there could be no solution to the crisis without freeing him. Boulkheir rejected any new presidential elections as illegal and a clear breach of constitution. (Comment: Boulkheir’s statement poses perhaps the most difficult challenge to Aziz who is desperately seeking a way to establish a veneer of legitimacy for the coup. Having pledged not to interfere with the parliament — he now faces a substantial roadblock. End comment.)

14. (C) Provincial Reactions: A quick roundup of political leaders outside of Nouakchott highlights deep-set, albeit non-vocal, opposition to the coup. Pro-coup rallies have been reported throughout the country with little to no overt opposition outside of Nouakchott. Comments by prominent provincial leaders include: Mayor of Boghe: Ba Adama Moussa (Pular). The coup of August 6 is unacceptable, because "it will open doors to countless other military coups." Mokhtar Thiout (Wolof leader), President of development association in Trarza. General Aziz is "the best student of Taya." "All the progress made on slavery and on the solution of the Afro Mauritanian issues, will be blocked." Idoumou Ould Kharchi (White Moor), a businessman in Aioun. Investors will leave Mauritania, at least during the transition period, "and that we don,t know how long that transition will be." Sid,Ahmed Ould H,Meymed (White Moor), Mayor of Atar. The country is in trouble. Knowing Aziz very well and his capabilities, "He can,t do any positive things for Mauritania." Mohamed O. Allali (White Moor), Mayor of Oualata. What happened on August 6 will show to Mauritanians that all the seeming progress seen after the coup of August 2005 was an illusion. "The military will never leave power." Moham Vall Ould Youssouf (Black Moor leader), Deputy Director of SOCOGIM (state house building company based in Nouakchott): "No matter who is elected as President in coming elections, if elections will be organized, no-one, inside or outside the country, will believe that the winner is the real president."


EAC


15. (C) The EAC met morning of August 10 to review the security situation which remains peaceful. The EAC noted the French had issues a consular warning urging French citizens to defer travel to Mauritania; however, absent any incidents of violence ) particularly violence directed against foreigners ) the EAC saw the French guidance as driven by policy considerations rather than a worsening security situation. The EAC saw no need for any change to Mission’s current security posture or guidance to American citizens. Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT413 Date06/08/2008 08:10 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL Header Excerpt from document summary (C) UNDP Res Rep Maria Ribeiro invited COMs from the US, French, Spanish and German embassies as well as the EU Commission to discuss today’s developments. Ambassador Boulware discussed his conversation earlier in the day with General Aziz.

Full Document 062010Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7461 INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE ECOWAS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE MAGHREB COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000413 STATE FOR AF/W, S/CT, PM, INR, S/ES-O, DS/DSS/C, DS/RD/AF, OCS/ACS STATE PLEASE PASS TO PEACE CORPS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2018 TAGS: ASEC, CASC, PGOV, PREL, PINR, MOPS, MR SUBJECT: SIT REP 3: COUP IN MAURITANIA REF: A. NOUAKCHOTT 411 B. NOUAKCHOTT 412 Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) UNDP Res Rep Maria Ribeiro invited COMs from the US, French, Spanish and German embassies as well as the EU Commission to discuss today’s developments. Ambassador Boulware discussed his conversation earlier in the day with General Aziz. Counterparts reported similar discussions with various interlocutors. Both the UN and EU had been contacted by the Minister of Economy and Finance, who purported to speak on behalf of the Council of State, to assert that the coup did not represent a halt in the process of democratization and that democratic institutions would be preserved. He said that the Council of State would have substantial civilian participation and would assume only the powers of the executive with current ministers remaining in place for the time being. He promised a renewed focus on good governance and immediate efforts to get the government moving. The French Charge said that some sources predicted that President Abdallahi would be brought to trial. The Europeans indicated that their governments had or soon would release statements condemning the coup. None of the organizations reported any security precautions beyond advising nationals to exercise caution and limit movements.

2. (C) Ambassador Boulware called on the Senegalese Ambassador to inquire about Senegal’s position. He said that he had not yet received an official position but that speaking personally he deplored the development and predicted significant international condemnation. He confirmed that at least as of this afternoon the border with Senegal was open and did not expect it to be closed.

3. (U) The airport in Nouakchott has reopened and flights to and from Nouakchott are resuming.

4. (SBU) ARSO has been traveling around Nouakchott all day. He reports that as of two hours ago, forward positioning by many of security services had been retracted. He says that there is a smaller security presence than earlier in the day. Businesses and restaurants remain open and Mauritanians appear to be conducting business as usual.

5. (SBU) Local media is now reporting incorrectly that Ambassador met personally with General Aziz in his office today. The local media,s report is more detailed than Al Jazeera,s earlier report, giving details about the location of the meeting. They also report that the head of the EU mission, the French Ambassador, and the Spanish Ambassador met with General Aziz too.

6. (C) Post confirms that RAO has taken a group of about 15 Mauritanian to police officers to the United States for training for the month of August. They are currently in the United States. Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT414 Date07/08/2008 02:19 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationSECRET Header Excerpt from document summary (C) Nouakchott was calm overnight and activity was reduced in town but relatively normal. Post has received reports are that General Aziz moved from BASEP headquarters to the Presidency yesterday evening. He has not been seen in public since the coup took place.

Full Document O 071419Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7462 INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE ECOWAS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE MAGHREB COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE Content S E C R E T NOUAKCHOTT 000414 STATE FOR AF/W, S/CT, PM, INR, S/ES-O, DS/DSS/C, DS/RD/AF, OCS/ACS, MR E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018 TAGS: ASEC, CASC, PGOV, PREL, PINR, MOPS, MR SUBJECT: SIT REP 4: COUP IN MAURITANIA REF: A. NOUAKCHOTT 411 B. NOUAKCHOTT 412 C. NOUAKCHOTT 413 Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Nouakchott was calm overnight and activity was reduced in town but relatively normal. Post has received reports are that General Aziz moved from BASEP headquarters to the Presidency yesterday evening. He has not been seen in public since the coup took place. The perimeter established by BASEP around the Presidency has been expanded from where it was yesterday, but military and police forces in other parts of Nouakchott seem more relaxed. Post has received no indications of dissent or opposition to the coup within the military (other than the three colonels arrested yesterday) or organized resistance among civilians.

2. (C) The EAC met at 12:00 local time. The EAC recommends that Post’s security posture remain the same.

3. (S) Ambassador received a call in the evening of August 6 from General Delegate for Promotion of Private Investment (and former Chief of Staff for President Abdallahi) Sidi Mohamed Ould Amajar. Amajar (strictly protect) called to denounce the coup and to urge a strong response by the international community. He also advised that President Abdallahi’s son Mohammed wanted to speak to the Ambassador, as well. Amajar reported that he was safe and at liberty, at least for the time being.

4. (S) Mohammed Abdallahi (strictly protect) called Ambassador a short time later indicating that he was being held in a suite at the Presidency along with the First Lady, his sister and two cousins. Asked about his wife, who is an AmCit, he confirmed that she is out of the country. He said that their phones had been taken away from them except for one that he had managed to conceal and that televisions had been disconnected although they had access to radio. Mohammed also denounced the coup and hoped for a strong international reaction. He said that the President had concluded that keeping the generals on was simply incompatible with democratic rule and observed that their reaction proved that. He said that the family was in good condition but did not know the whereabouts or condition of President Abdallahi. Ambassador noted that we had received assurances that he was safe and sound.

5. (C) Ambassador Boulware called on the Malian Charge to inquire about Mali’s position and whether any initiatives were contemplated. The Charge noted that his president was on the way to the Olympics and that most of the government was on holiday so no official position had yet been developed. He opined personally that Mali had no choice but to strongly condemn the coup, particularly as Mauritania had so consciously taken Mali as a model for the transition here. He noted that the Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union was expected here today on a mediation mission.

6. (C) FSNI reports that the four colonels President Abdallahi named to replace the four officers that he fired August 6 are being held at the Ministry of Interior. He reports that they support the coup, but General Aziz believed they might pose a security risk because Abdallahi appointed them so he ordered them to be arrested. 7. (SBU) General Aziz named the members of the Council of State in a statement broadcast on TV Mauritania. While the first communique from the Council of State indicated that it would be comprised of 14 military and civilian members, the Council of State is composed of only 11 military officers. Nearly all of the members of the Council of State were part of the CMJD, the military group that led the 2005 coup and governed during the transition period. General Aziz is the president of the Council of State. The other 10 members are:
— General Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed (aka Ghazwani)
— General Felix Negri
— Colonel Ahmed Ould Bekrine
— Colonel Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ould El Hadi
— Colonel Ghoulam Ould Mahmoud
— Colonel Mohamed Ould Meguet
— Colonel Mohamed Ould Mohamed Znagui
— Colonel Dia Adama Oumar
— Colonel Hanena Ould Sidi
— Colonel Ahmedou Bemba Ould Baye

8. (C) Local media report and Embassy FSNs confirm that they are hearing that the Council of State approached the President of the National Assembly, President of the Senate (incorrectly reported as being arrested earlier), and opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah to be the three civilian members of the Council. Reports are that the three declined because they did not want to be associated with a military coup, even if they support it, because it could hurt their future in politics.

9. (U) General Aziz granted an interview to the Swiss newspaper "Le Temps" August 6 in which he said that "this is not a coup d’etat. It is an action intended to save the country and put it back on the tracks of a political process that the army initiated August 3, 2005, and which allowed credible and transparent democratic institutions to be set up." Aziz also stated in the interview that the army is the guarantor of the highest interests of the country and that since the country has had to deal with a series of security problems in recent months, to infringe on the army and remove the most competent and respected leaders puts the country in "a very dangerous situation."

10. (SBU) TV Mauritania resumed its regular programming with its 21:30 French language news broadcast August 6. The broadcast included approximately five minutes of coverage about the day’s events in Mauritania, beginning with a montage of pictures of General Aziz and the Mauritanian flag. Like General Aziz, the news broadcast never used the word "coup" in its broadcast, instead it simply stated that the Council of State led by General Aziz was now in power. It was extremely positive in its portrayal of the events. The broadcast included the statement from the Minister of Communications announcing the formation of the Council of State, a press conference held by members of Parliament in support General Aziz and the coup, and several "man on the street" interviews all in support of the coup.

11. (U) The airport in Nouakchott is now officially open again. The Royal Air Maroc flight arrived and departed as scheduled early this morning. The Air France office in Nouakchott confirmed to Post that its regularly scheduled flight today will be arriving this evening as scheduled.

12. (SBU) Supporters of the coup organized a rally in Nouakchott August 7 10:00-12:00. The rally began at the airport, moved through Nouakchott and ended near the National Hospital. EmbOffs who watched the rally stated that there were about 300-400 participants on foot and about 100 cars full of people. Most of the cars participating in the rally were new and in good condition, as opposed to most of the cars normally seen in Nouakchott. EmbOffs report that the participants in the rally were of all ages and ethnicities. The rally appeared to be very well organized, with men in suits directing the participants and police forces in trucks and on foot to direct traffic. The rally was peaceful and there were no counter-demonstrations. Members of Ould Daddah’s political party were present at the rally. Participants were carrying pictures of General Aziz and banners that said "we support the correction" and "we support the restoration of democratic institutions" while chanting "long live the army."

13. (C) The make-up of participants in the rally supports Post’s assessment that those reacting to the coup are the elite and average Mauritanians have remained quiet about the coup. Embassy FSNs said that the population does not want to put themselves at risk while the military is in power. In addition, President Abdallahi has not developed a strong relationship with the population and Mauritanians are disappointed that nothing had really changed in Mauritania since he became President. Embassy FSNs said that most Mauritanians do not have a strong feeling about President Abdallahi or the coup.

14. (S) A second protest occurred shortly after 13:00 local time in the vicinity of the National Assembly. This second protest was in opposition to the coup. There were approximately 200-300 protestors. Police responded immediately and dispersed the crowd with tear gas. The security officer at the Israeli Embassy (strictly protect) told ARSO that the Islamist parties are behind the protests. Local media reports that the vice-president of the Tawassoul Islamist party was injured in the protest after being hit by a tear gas canister and taken to the National Hospital. Police have forbidden political parties from protesting against the coup.

15. (U) Post has cancelled all visitors through August 16. It will review its visitors policy again next week. Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT421 Date11/08/2008 09:47 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Header Excerpt from document summary (C) Ambassador received a message from Presidential protocol the afternoon of August 9, inviting him to meet with individually with General Aziz. Once US and EU Ambassadors determined that General Aziz preferred meeting with us individually rather than to receive the joint demarche, the ambassadors agreed that each would attend the meeting

Full Document O 110947Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7471 INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY AMEMBASSY DOHA PRIORITY AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY CIA WASHDC PRIORITY HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000421 E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2018 TAGS: PREL, ASEC, CASC, EAID, MR SUBJECT: SITREP 6: COUP IN MAURITANIA Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for reasons 1.4 (b and d)


Saturday Demarches on General Aziz


1. (C) Ambassador received a message from Presidential protocol the afternoon of August 9, inviting him to meet with individually with General Aziz. Once US and EU Ambassadors determined that General Aziz preferred meeting with us individually rather than to receive the joint demarche, the ambassadors agreed that each would attend the meeting, hear what the General had to say, reiterate our respective general national positions of condemnation and decline to discuss the situation more concretely until we were able to deliver our joint demarche.

2. (C) Ambassador Boulware was received at 5:30 pm just after the French Ambassador. President Abdallahi’s protocol staff appeared intact and the Ambassador was initially received by holdover Chief of Staff of the Presidency Cheyakh Ould Ely. General Aziz received the Ambassador in President Abdallahi’s ceremonial office and launched into the now well-rehearsed litany of Abdallahi’s supposed incompetence, corruption, abuse of power and neglect of national security. He indicated that he had proof that President Abdallahi had personally authorized bribes to members of the national Assembly to keep them in his PNDD/ADIL party (note: previous assertions of corruption had focused on Abdallahi’s family and associates). He claimed that President Abdallahi had illegally abused his authority by refusing to accept the National Assembly’s petition for a special session on the grounds that it was signed by the Vice-President rather than the President of the Assembly. Conversely Aziz claimed that Abdallahi’s own decree firing the military leadership was illegal in that he had not routed it through the Minister Secretary General of the Presidency, the "only legal means for issuing a decree." Not dismissing the officers in person and in the presence of the Minister of Defense also made the firings fatally flawed.

3. (C) Ambassador Boulware noted Secretary Rice’s strong condemnation of the coup, recalled the views he expressed in his initial conversation with Aziz and observed that the same strong message had been passed along through the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington. As had been agreed with EU Ambassadors, Ambassador Boulware urged that the group be received as soon as possible to receive our collective demarche. Aziz indicated that he "understood" the position of the US and the EU. He said further that President Abdallahi was well taken care of and being seen by his personal physician and asserted that he wished no harm come to anyone.

4. (C) The French Ambassador confirmed that other appointments had followed the same lines and that Aziz had assured him that he agreed in principle to receive he group the following day. Although no journalists were present, Ambassadors were photographed and filmed entering the Presidency and seated with General Aziz. Firms clips were shown on Mauritanian television newscasts simply noting the meetings had taken place and captioned photos, without commentary, were published in the official press.


Sunday Joint Demarche


5. (C) On the afternoon of August 10, Ambassador Boulware and UNDP Resident Representative Ribeiro joined with French Ambassador Vandepoorter, as leader of an EU group (including Spanish Ambassador Polanco and German Ambassador Schanz and the acting head of the EU Commission) in a joint demarche on General Aziz. Ambassador Vandepoorter noting broad international support made the agreed upon demarche. He emphasized international condemnation, the release of President Abdallahi along with access to him, the rejection of unilaterally organized presidential elections, and a return to constitutional order. He urged that the General consider the very negative impact of the coup on Mauritania’s image and the potential for the country to be isolated from the international community. Ambassador Boulware underscored that the USG associated itself completely with the demarche and each of its elements, urging that the junta take quick action in the hopes that our current suspension of assistance not become definitive.

6. (C) General Aziz repeated yet again the now standard string of grievances that he had articulated to Ambassador Boulware during their individual meeting yesterday. He insisted that President Abdallahi had brought the coup on himself through his actions, omissions and excesses. He emphasized even more the highly irregular late-night measures undertaken by the President—at the residence, not even in the office and much less through any official chain—to fire the complete military leadership and to replace them with men who were incapable of leading their command and who very attempt to do so could have provoked "catastrophe." Aziz claimed that the junta had not sought power but that faced with emergent and very dangerous circumstances took the "decision that seemed best" for the country. He said that he understood the condemnation and that a coup was by nature condemnable, but also warned that condemnations gave aid and comfort to those who had "another agenda." The French Ambassador urged an end to extra-constitutional rule that was not good for the country and noted that Mauritania’s friends were ready to help to find a way out of the current crisis. The Spanish Ambassador urged that the junta better articulate its intentions as the basis of a possible dialogue. In concluding the exchange Ambassador Vandepoorter again urged "concrete acts" upon the General recommending, in particular, freeing President Abdallahi immediately. Aziz promised to continue to keep the door open for dialogue.

7. (C) Comment: Aziz was clearly less at ease and more defensive in the group setting. International pressure is clearly having some impact on him and his description of the coup as a course that "seemed best" at the time might indicate some tentative second thoughts. The articulation of a strong common position is a very positive development but we continue to believe that international pressure would work best if complemented by the engagement of a well placed, friendly interlocutor who might actively help the Generals think out an exit strategy. At present, it is clear that they have little at all in the way of a strategy and are continuing to improvise.


The Envoys


8. (c) Representatives of the Maghreb Arab Union, the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations have all visited Mauritania in he past few days. While the African Union and UN have taken a hard line relative to the coup, the Arab organizations have left the country with public remarks stating they were reassured after meeting with General Aziz that Mauritania remains on the path of stability and democracy. Aziz met Saturday morning with Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Ben Hilli who, like Secretary General of Maghreb Arab Union Lehbib Ben Yahya on Thursday, made tepid statements highlighting the assurances General Aziz had provided for an early return to democracy. Statements by UN Special Representative for West Africa Said Djinnit took a tougher line in public comments raising the international community’s rejection of the coup while offering good offices to re-establish democratic government. Ambassador met evening of August 9 with Djinnit after his meeting with Aziz. Djinnit noted the strong reaction of the international community but noted the U.N. works more slowly than the AU which had quickly taken firm action to what Djinnit termed "the continuation of the same (2005) coup." Djinnit indicated he was working closely with the AU and, responding to the weaker positions taken by the Arab League, said his experience with the Arab League when the AU suspended Commoros was that the Arab League will follow the AU lead if somewhat reluctantly.


The Case of Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba


9. (C) DCM met August 9 with Mohedyn Ould Sidi Baba, son of detained President of the three-week old Economic and Social Council Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba. The younger Sidi Baba, who has been perhaps the Mission’s most important working-level contact as Director for Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance and Economy, sought Embassy assistance in obtaining information concerning his father.

10. (C) The Father: Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba is a long-term behind the scenes politician for decades. He has been a friend of President Abdallahi since the 1950’s and, according to his son, is one of Adballahi’s few friends who can say "you are an idiot" to his face. According to the son, there is no logical political reason for his father to be arrested since the father held no position of authority or influence
— rather, the arrest was a punishment for political opposition to Aziz. Reportedly, the elder Sidi Baba stood at a large political confab early in the political crisis leading to the collapse of the first Waghef government to say, "This is bull, we all know the crisis is all because of the generals. It is time for the President to start acting like one and stand up to them." The message was reportedly passed to Sidi Baba the same night that Aziz saw this as a "declaration of war" to which Sidi Baba said essentially "bring it on." President Abdallahi’s decision to name Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba to the Economic and Social Council on July 23 was seen by Aziz as a direct affront according to the son. Talking to his father between President Abadallah’s announcement sacking the generals and his own arrest, Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba said, "Abdallahi is an idiot. He knows nothing about the security forces and has no idea how they will react." Since his arrest, Ahmed Ould Sidi Baba has had no verbal contact with his family although messages have been transmitted asking for clothes, medicine and reading material. 68-year-old Sidi Baba is said to be in good health needing only eye drops on a regular basis. He reportedly cut his hand prior to being arrested for which the family sent anti-tetanus medication.

11. (C) The Son: Mohedyn Ould Sidi Baba has been a vital player in building Mauritania’s relations with the IMF, World Bank and donors. His tireless work was instrumental to Mauritania’s consideration for the MCC and re-establishing confidence with the IMF. The appointment of new Economy and Finance Minister Sidi Ould Tah, who Sidi Baba termed "one of the generals’ ministers," was already indicating his exit as the Minister had termed him "a liability." Sidi Baba was already being by bypassed and expected to be fired. He noted that former Minister Vezzaz, "was scared — he tried playing both sides and failed." Sidi Baba noted that his father’s political position always drew attention to him and that the Deputy Secretary General (General Ghazwani’s first cousin) constantly scrutinized his work to find something to catch him on. Sidi Baba predicted he would be arrested soon for tying to pursue his father’s case. Indeed, a room-mate from his hometown showed up at the cafe where DCM and Sidi Baba were meeting 5 minutes after the meeting started and immediately assumed a "minder" position nearby. Sidi Baba said it was no coincidence.

12. (C) The Political Situation: Sidi Baba did not see the coup as a surprise saying the generals had been planning something for months. He noted, however, that Abdallahi’s decision to fire the generals (something his father said should have and could have been done during Abdallahi’s early honeymoon period) had caught them off guard and had forced an immediate coup by force versus the longer-term "constitutional coup" they had been trying to put together where, after some show investigations for corruption, would have led to impeachment. Sidi Baba noted that while Abdallahi may have underestimated Aziz’s reaction, the coup was not going well for Aziz. He cautioned the U.S. not to see the lack of mass protests as a sign of public indifference noting that, unlike past coups, there were - in fact - some counter demonstrations and, more importantly, significant public opposition by key political leaders, civil society and elites. He noted that several minister had said they would resign and that a number of governors and regional military commanders had refused to recognize Aziz’s authority. Sidi Baba also said Aziz had misjudged his international support saying Aziz had told the military hierarchy recently that "France and the U.S. support me" pointing to an extended trip he made to France and the then-pending visit of a number of U.S. generals under NDU’s Capstone program. The strong negative French and U.S. reaction, then, was a surprise. Sidi Baba noted that French President Sarkozy’s reference to holding the coup leaders "personally responsible" could be very effective since both Aziz and Ghazwany have a significant personal assets — he indicated both had profited handsomely in the sale of a cellular phone license to Sudan’s SUDATEL that resulted in the Chinguetel cellular phone network. (Comment — In a subsequent call, Sidi Baba noted his deputy Secretary General (Ghazwany’s cousin) had called asking what the French might be talking about with "personal responsibility." Sidi Baba outlined the types of travel bans and asset seizures that had been used in other situations and told DCM the possibility of personal sanctions had caused significant concern among the coup leadership. End comment.) Sidi Baba noted that while western and AU response to the coup has been strong, the Arab response is weak. Morocco is seen by Sidi Baba as, at least, complicit in the coup. Sidi Baba sees Col. Vall as "the man behind the generals" suggesting Aziz and Ghazwany may still be getting their orders from him. Sidi Baba indicated Vall has reportedly ended his intensive English course in Ireland and is now consulting with the Moroccans. Sidi Baba is not overly optimistic of a political turn-around, but stressed that Aziz has not pulled off an easy success. Continued strong criticism from abroad with internal passive resistance may, in his view, force Aziz to look for an out. Exile in Morocco could be an option but is not viable unless and until Aziz (and perhaps the Moroccans) see the coup as a failure.


Other Reactions


13. (SBU) President of National Assembly denounces coup: In an August 10 press conference, President of the National Assembly Messoud Ould Boulkheir refused to recognize the new High State Council saying it was widely condemned and anti-constitutional. He rejected any effort to amend the constitution to legitimize a relationship between the National Assembly and the High State Council and declared that President Abdallahi was the only legitimate president and that there could be no solution to the crisis without freeing him. Boulkheir rejected any new presidential elections as illegal and a clear breach of constitution. (Comment: Boulkheir’s statement poses perhaps the most difficult challenge to Aziz who is desperately seeking a way to establish a veneer of legitimacy for the coup. Having pledged not to interfere with the parliament — he now faces a substantial roadblock. End comment.)

14. (C) Provincial Reactions: A quick roundup of political leaders outside of Nouakchott highlights deep-set, albeit non-vocal, opposition to the coup. Pro-coup rallies have been reported throughout the country with little to no overt opposition outside of Nouakchott. Comments by prominent provincial leaders include: Mayor of Boghe: Ba Adama Moussa (Pular). The coup of August 6 is unacceptable, because "it will open doors to countless other military coups." Mokhtar Thiout (Wolof leader), President of development association in Trarza. General Aziz is "the best student of Taya." "All the progress made on slavery and on the solution of the Afro Mauritanian issues, will be blocked." Idoumou Ould Kharchi (White Moor), a businessman in Aioun. Investors will leave Mauritania, at least during the transition period, "and that we don,t know how long that transition will be." Sid,Ahmed Ould H,Meymed (White Moor), Mayor of Atar. The country is in trouble. Knowing Aziz very well and his capabilities, "He can,t do any positive things for Mauritania." Mohamed O. Allali (White Moor), Mayor of Oualata. What happened on August 6 will show to Mauritanians that all the seeming progress seen after the coup of August 2005 was an illusion. "The military will never leave power." Moham Vall Ould Youssouf (Black Moor leader), Deputy Director of SOCOGIM (state house building company based in Nouakchott): "No matter who is elected as President in coming elections, if elections will be organized, no-one, inside or outside the country, will believe that the winner is the real president."


EAC


15. (C) The EAC met morning of August 10 to review the security situation which remains peaceful. The EAC noted the French had issues a consular warning urging French citizens to defer travel to Mauritania; however, absent any incidents of violence ) particularly violence directed against foreigners ) the EAC saw the French guidance as driven by policy considerations rather than a worsening security situation. The EAC saw no need for any change to Mission’s current security posture or guidance to American citizens. Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT431 Date12/08/2008 08:46 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL Header Excerpt from document summary (SBU) The National Front for the Defense of Democracy (FNDD), a coalition of six political parties opposed to the military coup, held a two-hour rally at the old stadium in Nouakchott. FSNs report a peaceful gathering of 3000-3500 attendees, with police present only to direct traffic. FNDD bused in supporters and handed out water.

Full Document VZCZCXRO8987 OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHPA RUEHROV RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0431/01 2252046 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 122046Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7483 INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA PRIORITY 0092 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0113 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0430 RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0222 RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY Content C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 08 NOUAKCHOTT 000431 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2018 TAGS: PREL, ASEC, CASC, MR SUBJECT: SITREP 7: COUP IN MAURITANIA Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARK M. BOULWARE FOR REASON 1.4 B AND D


FNDD holds rally


1. (SBU) The National Front for the Defense of Democracy (FNDD), a coalition of six political parties opposed to the military coup, held a two-hour rally at the old stadium in Nouakchott. FSNs report a peaceful gathering of 3000-3500 attendees, with police present only to direct traffic. FNDD bused in supporters and handed out water. Jamil Ould Mansour, president of the islamist Tawassoul party spoke first, saying that Mauritanian politics needs to break its historical cycle of coups and elections. He said that the coup plotters "will meet justice" and called for the return of Abdallahi to power. He stated that it was popular pressure that was responsible for the release of the former prime minister and the other arrestees. Former Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghef, who was released from military custody shortly beforehand, spoke next. He noted that former president Abdallahi was in good health and high spirits. He refuted the militarys justifications for the coup, arguing that the former presidents firing of the generals on 6 August and his refusal to call an extraordinary session of parliament were both legal and were carried out transparently. Mohammed Ould Mouloud, president of the leftist Union of Forces for Progress (UFP) party spoke next, saying that he will not accept any new elections and called for the military to stay out of politics. Comment: FSNs note that this is the first time Mauritanian history that there is organized and sizable opposition to a military coup, which indicates that the brief period of democracy may have lowered MauritaniansQ, tolerance for such extra-constitutional regime changes.


Military releases arrestees


2. (C) At approx. 16:00 the High State Council released all those who were arrested during the coup except for former president Abdallahi All the released arrestees appeared in public shortly thereafter at the FNDD rally. Ambassador phoned Abdallahis son and was passed to Prime Minister Waghef who confirmed that President Abdallahi was in good health and high spirits.


High State Council issues a decree on its powers


3. (U) The High State Council issued a decree late last night delimiting its own authority. The decree is as follows: The armed and security forces through the High State Council have put an end to the power of the President of the Republic who was inaugurated on April 19, 2007, and they have decided to take the appropriate measures in order to guarantee the continuity of the State and to supervise, in consultation with the institutions, the political forces and the civil society, the conduct of presidential elections that will allow to re-launch the democratic process in the country and re-found it on perennial basis. They commit themselves before the Mauritanian people to organize, in a time period that will be the shortest possible, free and transparent elections that will allow, in the future, a continuous and harmonious operating of the whole constitutional powers. They proclaim their will to respect all international commitments made on the name of the State and to adhere to the principles devoted by the universal human rights Declaration, the UN Charter, the Arab League, the African Union, and the Islamic Conference Organization. Without causing offense, more than necessary, to the provisions of the July 20, 1991 modified Constitution, the present constitutional law order has the objective to define the temporary powers of the High State Council. NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 002 OF 008 Article 1: The armed and security forces exercise, through the High State Council, the necessary powers for the reorganizing and conduct of the State and the public affairs during the period necessary for organizing presidential elections, in accordance with the provisions of the present constitutional law. Article 2: The powers of the President of the Republic inaugurated on April 19, 2007 have been ended. The powers reserved to the President of the Republic under the terms of the July 20, 1991 modified Constitution, are exercised, in the collegial form, by the High State Council. Article 3: The High State Council designates its president in the forms provided for by the Council internal regulation. The President is accountable before the High State Council. The members of the High Council are appointed through law order issued by the High State Council. Article 4: The High State Council meets in ordinary sessions every thirty days and, as necessary, in extraordinary session when convened by its President or at the request of the two thirds of its members. Article 5: without damage of other constitutional attributions reserved for the President and the provisions of article 6 hereinafter, the High State Council exercises the executive power and in particular the prerogatives provided for at articles 23 through 39 of title II of the modified Constitution of July 20, 1991. Acts concerned with the High State Council under the terms of the present law order bear the signature of the President of the High Council preceded by: "For the High State Council, The President" The President of the High State Council presides, on behalf of the institution, the Cabinet meeting and other authorities that the Constitution places under the Presidency of the Republic. Article 6: The President of the High State Council appoints the Prime Minister and the Ministers and puts an end to their functions in the conditions provided for by the Constitution. He appoints at civil and military positions. Article 7: In case of absence or prevention of the High State Council President, he is replaced in his functions according to the forms provided for by the Council internal regulation. Article 8: The Parliament, the Higher Council of the Magistrature, the Constitutional Council, the Tribunal Courts, the High Justice Court, the High Islamic Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Audit Court, and the municipalities continue to exercise their competencies in accordance with texts that govern them. When for any reason, the operation of the parliament is blocked, the High State Council enacts by ordinance the measures with legislative force that are necessary for guaranteeing the continuing of public powers and for guaranteeing freedom and transparency of the scheduled presidential elections. Ordinances issued in application of the present article cannot, in any case, cause offense to the pubic and individual freedoms recognized by the Constitution and the laws of the republic. Article 9: The provisions of the modified Constitution of July 20, 1991, contrary or incompatible with the present constitutional ordinance, are codified as necessary and this, during the period necessary for organizing presidential elections and at the inauguration of the elected President of the republic. Article 10: The present constitutional ordinance will be modified and completed as a need be by constitutional ordinance from the High State Council. NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 003 OF 008 Article 11: The present constitutional ordinance will be published according to the emergency procedure an in the Official Journal. Comment: Unlike the rules that the 2005 junta established for itself, this decree offers no specific timetable for elections and does not bar junta members from running for office. Article 8 is particularly concerning, as it effectively gives the High State Council legislative authority as well. This modification to Azizs original pledge to suspend only the Executive was likely driven by the refusal of the President of the National Assembly to recognize the coup.


---- High State Council sacks Mauritanian ambassadors


----

4. (U) Local media reports that the High State Council sacked a number of Mauritanian ambassadors considered close to former president Abdallahi including the Mauritanian ambassador to the United States Dia Ibraima, the Mauritanian ambassador to France Lematt Mint Ewnen, and the Mauritanian ambassador to Mali Sidamine Ould Ahmed Challa.


Other internal reactions


5. (C) Post continues to poll sources outside of Nouakchott for reaction to the crisis. Responses include:
— Yacoub Ould Salem Vall, Popular Alliance for Progress (APP) mayor of Zouerat, Tiris Zemmour - The reactions in Zouerat were largely against the coup. The rally that was staged there saw the participation of more cars than people. The town is controlled by commercial syndicates that dont favor the coup. The mayor said that he did not attend the pro-coup demonstration.
— NFah Ouattara, regional representative in Kaedi, Gorgol for the NGO Counterpart International - People are more concerned about the delay in the rains than the political situation. But the majority of the people disapprove of the coup. The State Council has pressured some local leaders in order to demonstrate. One demonstration took place but no prominent leader attended.
— Mohammed Ould Mohammedou, independent mayor of Lekhcheb, a town near Tidjikja, Tagant - Most people, particularly the poor, in the area favor the coup, because they blame former president Abdellahi for rising food prices.
— Aminetou Mint Maouloud, Adil MP from Aleg, Brakna - This is a step backward. People in Aleg no longer trust the military. One tribe (Ehel Youma) held a small pro-coup demonstration but not many others joined them.
— Sall Kalidou, community leader from Rosso, Trarza - Rosso is the home district of Senator Sidi Mohammed Ould Mohsen, one of AbdellahiQ,s staunchest critics in the Senate. Mohsen has organized pro-coup demonstrations but most citizens continue their daily lives unconcerned with the political situation.
— Yahya Traore, community leader from Kankossa, Assaba - People demonstrated in support of the coup as soon as the news broke out. Two days later, another pro-coup demonstration was organized by members of the PRDR and independent politicians in the town. People came from Kankossa but also from surrounding villages.


Meeting with Chinese Ambassador


6. (C) Ambassador met August 11 with the Chinese Ambassador who reported he had met with General Aziz and received the familiar explanation of the coup. The Chinese Ambassador NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 004 OF 008 told Aziz the Chinese Government made a point not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and wished to see the rapid restoration of political stability given the presence of some 1,300 Chinese citizens in Mauritania. The Chinese Ambassador worried that a prolonged political impasse might spark additional coups.


Meeting with Saudi Ambassador


7. (C) Ambassador Boulware met August 12 with the Saudi Ambassador and urged him to help the generals find a way to restore constitutional order. The Saudi Ambassador noted his nations condemnation of the coup told Ambassador Boulware that he would discuss what further action to take with his government.


---- Meeting with World Bank Representative


-----

8. (C) The Ambassador met August 12 with World Bank representative Francois Rantura. He explained that his local staff had been on administrative leave up until now in response to the August 6 coup but has plans to bring them back on shortly. In addition, he prepared an analysis of the impact of the coup on their relationship with the government and projects, in accordance with World Bank procedures. He is currently at work on a good governance roadmap that partners could use to guide their relationship with a new regime.


- Meeting with EU Ambassadors and UNDP Res Rep


9. (C) Ambassador met again August 11 with EU Ambassadors and UNDP Res Rep to share information and coordinate positions. Both UNDP Res Rep Ribeiro and French Ambassador Vandepoorter indicated that they had had separate follow on meetings with General Aziz after the presentation of the joint demarche. French Ambassador left a written copy of the EU demarche and reaffirmed Frances firm position and President Sarkozys personal interest in Mauritania and the welfare of President Abdallahi. UNDP Res Rep Ribeiro urged that Aziz remain engaged with the international community and more clearly articulate the intentions of the "High State Council." A tired Aziz reportedly responded that he had done nothing but meet with ambassadors and envoys for several days and that he was seeking legal and political advice that would permit the council to lay out its plans. Amid a general and somewhat unfocused discussion of the role and intention of parliamentarians both the French and American Ambassadors observed that no actions taken while the military was in power would be legitimate. World Bank Representative Rantrua, just back from leave, joined the group, as well, and noted that the GIRMs cash reserves were not substantial. He also said that the Bank was also obliged to take measures in the event of a coup and that he would be looking at that.


----------- Meeting with Presidential Principal Counselor xxx


-----------

10. (C) DCM met evening of August 11 with President Abdallahis Principal Counselor XXX at xxxs residence. xxx is one of Abdallahis closer confidants and has been responsible for high-profile development portfolios (the U.S. MCC program and Gulf investment relations) as well as the Governments food emergency "Special Intervention Program." xxx, who continues to exercise his functions at the Presidency, spoke at length about the Presidents relationship with the military, the current crisis, and possible solutions.

11. (C) The Ever-Deteriorating Relationship: xxx placed himself among those who had warned Abdallahi about the military from the beginning believing that, for all the talk of transition to democracy, it would be only a matter NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 005 OF 008 of time before they moved against the new president. Abdallahi told him, "We have work to do and we cant get it done if we dont trust our colleagues and the military are our colleagues." Abdallahi sought to find a working accommodation with Aziz from the beginning essentially giving him free rein on security matters in exchange for control over politics. Abdallahi found, instead, that Aziz constantly encroached further into politics and consistently broke commitments each time Abdallahi though he had established a new cohabitation agreement. During the beginning of the political crisis in June, Aziz assured Abdallahi of support just before the President departed for the AU Summit in Egypt — only to launch the censure motion leading to the collapse of the first Waghef government. After the second Waghef government had been established, a cabinet "stuffed with the generals ministers," Abdallahi though he had finally appeased Aziz only to have him launch efforts leading to an impeachment process while Aziz was in Spain. Abdallahi, according to xxx, fired the generals fully aware it would lead to a coup in order to forestall what he believed was coming — the beginning of a parliamentary investigation for corruption followed by a military-inspired public rampage of the palace during which the military would "rescue the president" but be forced to take power if ever so reluctantly. xxx said that by the end, Abdallahi was under constant military audio surveillance. Abdallahi told him "Im the only one that gains from a coup" (because he emerges as a martyr for democracy) but that he continued to appease to avoid the damage a coup would do to the country.

12. (C) Political Situation: xxx was pleased with the release earlier in the day of all detainees except the President and with the large anti-coup rally held during the day. He saw U.S. and French positions as key in having undermined military confidence in the coup but was not overly confident of success. He saw that "after a few weeks everyone will get used to this" and saw the need for even greater pressure on the junta. Adding, "as much as I hate to see the harm it will do the people," he saw cutting off the money as the best leverage on the military. Specifically, he saw the U.S. as potentially key in getting Gulf states to threaten to turn off the $1.5 billion in investments on stream. As the Presidencys lead with Qatar, he said that in a late June meeting with the Emir the Qatari had said, "radicalism in your country will only be defeated by democracy which you must continue to advance" — promising to build Mauritania — the largest parliament building in the Arab world in recognition of Mauritanias democracy. xxx saw the Emir personally as being willing to use pending investments (financing a new airport, an iron ore processing plant, Mauritanias first world class hotel) as leverage.

13. (C) A fractured Military: xxx asserted that many of the members of the High Council of State were not at all comfortable with Aziz whose personal ambition was starting to outpace his stated concern for the nation and the armed forces. xxx understood General Ghazwani had been extremely upset by Azizs auto-proclamation of himself as head of the High Council of State before the Council had even met. When asked what Aziz would do if his coup was failing, xxx said "he will never decide to leave on his own." He saw the possibility that Aziz could be made to step back by the other members of the High Council of State if they saw no chance of success. That said, Ghazwani has gained too much from Aziz and is ultimately afraid to stand up to Aziz. xxx say the head of the Surete, Mohammed Ould Cheikh al Hadi, as the one most respected by military and civilians alike who could be the catalyst of a decision to push Aziz aside. Ghazwani could be brought along, but al Hadi or someone else would have to take the lead.

14. (C) Abdallahis failings. xxx criticized Abdallahi for his naivetQ in his dealings with the military. When asked about the accusations of corruption, xxx insisted that the President was as clean as anyone he knew; however, when pushed further, he admitted that Abdallahis wife is a different matter and may, ultimately, be Abdallahis Achilles heel. "If you think the Presidents relationship with Aziz has been bad, his marriage has NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 006 OF 008 been worse," with the President constantly trying — and usually failing — to contain his wifes avarice. xxx also saw Abdallahi as ultimately giving into ego particularly in reinstating Prime Minister Waghef in what xxx said was a pitiful effort to exert "I am here!" after caving to the military yet again. xxx had been little impressed by Waghefs skills and saw him as "part of the problem." He did not see Waghef as playing a role if Abdallahi is restored to his office.


----------- Meeting with Leader of the Opposition Ahmed Ould Daddah


-----------

15. (C) DCM met afternoon of August 12 with President of the Rally of Democratic Forces and official Leader of the Opposition Ahmed Ould Daddah to outline the U.S. position on the coup and express our disappointment with Daddahs reported support of the coup. Daddah, the second-place candidate in the Presidential elections, built his response as follows:
— It is incorrect to say the 2005 coup was the military starting the process leading to democracy — that coup happened only because his party had turned the population and the military against a dictator.
— The militarys stated desire to hand over the country to democracy was never sincere as they sought to place "their guy" Abdallahi in the Presidency.
— The 2007 elections were marred by fraud — at least 20,000 voter cards were purchased from his supporters to keep them from voting for Daddah in Nouakchott alone.
— He accepted Abdallahi as President because it was more important to have some type of democratically elected president than risk the violence that would have come with a contested election. That said, Abdallahi never had a "true democratic mandate."
— Abdallahi had proven a useless leader. If he had planned to take on the military he should have done so at the beginning of his mandate. Not now when it was too late.
— None of Abdallahis policies had advanced. Corruption is worse than ever. Crime is up. Drug traffic is up (and the Presidency had blocked a parliamentary inquiry). The key refugee return program was botched from the start. The anti-slavery law was all well and good but a policy to really dismantle the institution through economic support and land access for former slaves had never gotten off the ground.
— Abdallahi was blocking any and all constitutional methods that might have led to his ouster. 16. (C) Daddah had been in Tunis when the coup took place and, while condemning coups on principle, had accepted the Generals move as the best end to a miserable solutQn. Noting he had lost support during the past year for "being too easy on Sidi" he acknowledged he was now losing some support for what was seen as abandoning democracy. Saying his own presidential interests were now on the back burner, he said now his priorities were (1) to avoid pain for the country, (2) to ensure that a "truly democratic process" leads to election of a "real president," and (3) to ensure that Abdallahi is not reinstated in a failed and ultimately illegitimate presidency. Towards this end he called for the U.S. to support a Mauritanian dialogue among parties, civil society and the military that coup lead to a transition (perhaps under the President of the Senate) leading to free elections. DCM noted that such a dialogue with the just announced framework of the High Council of State in place would have as much validity and utility as a conference among prisoners in a prison. Other than, "we cant predict the results of the dialogue, " Daddah had no suggestions on what would drive the military to give up power if not dealt with firmly now. In the end, the best he could say was "the military runs the governments in Algeria and Turkey, but you still deal with them."


NGOs and Civil Society


17. (SBU) DCM met August 10 with members of NGOs and civil NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 007 OF 008 society who support the coup. The members of civil society expressed support for the military junta who they describe as once again coming in to restore security and democracy. They described the military as the only institution that has the legitimacy and organization to be able to prevent civil war. They insisted on the fact that they believe that the country was heading toward civil war before the intervention of the military, describing President Abdallahi as neglectful of the worsening social, economic, and political conditions. Despite Parliamentary efforts to work within the Constitution, President Abdallahi continued to govern in what they describe as "a democracy without legitimacy." They pleaded with the USG not to sanction the Mauritanian people for its governments wrongdoings.


An Afro-Mauritanian Perspective


18. (C) EconOff met August 10 with Ba Alassane, a civil society activist and president of COPECO, an Afro-Mauritanian organization seeking reparations for the events of 1989. Ba, a Pular, said that as a member of civil society, he opposed the coup as a matter of principle. However, he said that he supports neither President Abdallahi nor the military junta. He criticized Abdallahi for not "governing democratically" and accused both he and his wife of nepotism and corruption. He said that he cannot support the junta either because of the militarys role in the 1989 events and accusations of corruption. According to Ba, the Afro-Mauritanian community is split over the coup. He said that those who are politically active and understand the situation generally support the coup because they were well aware of the problems within the Abdallahi administration and the allegations of corruption. Those who are not politically active continue to support Abdallahi for his efforts to return the refugees.

19. (C) Ba said that during the last days of Abdallahis administration the country was heading toward civil war and the military stepped in to prevent it. He said that the current situation with General Aziz in power is now reality and is unlikely to change. Any effort to remove General Aziz short of elections will require bloodshed. He notes that different groups are forming within Mauritania, many opposed to each other, and the threat of civil war persists. With opposition to the coup in Mauritania and a much stronger reaction from the international community, he said that Aziz was likely caught off guard and is in a much more precarious position than he was anticipating. He suggests that Aziz may be looking for a way out. Ba states that he had a phone conversation August 10 with someone very close to Aziz asking for his assistance. Note: Ba is a member of the AJD/MR political party, one of the four political parties said to be in negotiations with the junta to form a transitional government. Ba said that Azizs advisor told him that Aziz is going to organize elections in a very short time period, resign shortly, and present himself as a civilian candidate in the elections. 20 (C) For Ba, the solution must be a Mauritanian solution. He says that Mauritanians need to come together around a table and have an honest dialogue to find a solution, rather than have one imposed on them by the international community. Ba called on the junta to guarantee a timeframe for elections and to be neutral and not support any of the candidates. He added that the elections must also be financially transparent and candidates made to declare their campaign finances because last time the military was working behind the scenes to provide financial and material support to Abdallahi, their chosen candidate. He said that he was disappointed that the junta had already begun to back away from the election timeline that it had earlier put forth.


----- Meeting with Professor Cheikh Saad Bouh Kamara


---

21. (C) EconOff met August 10 with Cheikh Saad Bouh Kamara, NOUAKCHOTT 00000431 008 OF 008 professor emeritus at the University of Nouakchott and a member of the last Electoral Commission. Kamara denounced the coup, calling it unacceptable. He called on the international community to take the following actions: call for the immediate release of President Abdallahi, demand that the transitional government not stay in power for more than three months, not allow the coup leaders to participate in the transitional government, and freeze the accounts and place travel bans on individual members of the junta. He believes that not allowing members of the junta and their immediate family to travel abroad to purchase goods would have a significant influence on them.

22. (C) While Kamara said that he was a strong supporter of the last coup and the electoral process, he said that he would refuse to participate in the elections again if asked. He said that holding new elections would be illegal because there is no provision for it in the constitution. He noted that if the junta were truly abiding by the constitution as it says that it is, it would have made the President of the Senate the interim President, not General Aziz. He envisions that the current political crisis will eventually be resolved through elections. He cautioned that the problems of the 2005-2007 transitional period and 2007 elections (i.e. military support for a candidate) must be avoided in the future. He says that a transitional government should not be allowed to form because it will lead to a recurring cycle of coups in Mauritania. He called on the international community not to finance the transitional period or the elections. He favors forming a committee composed of members of civil society, politicians, and the military, where all decisions are made by consensus, to lead the country for the next few months and organize elections. He stressed that members of the junta should not be allowed to participate in the committee. He lamented that there were no great leaders or intellectuals in Mauritania who were able to step in and mediate the political divisions between the President, the legislature, and the military to prevent the coup.

23. (C) Kamara also highlighted the precariousness of the current situation in Mauritania. He said Mauritanians are tired of the divisions between the president and legislature and now is not a time to be playing politics while so many people are hungry. While characterizing President Abdallahi as "very naive," he also accused him of looking to start a civil war by naming new generals and colonels without neutralizing others, thus dividing the army. While many have accused the generals of playing politics behind the scenes and engineering the political crisis, he said that many civilian and political leaders were not happy and had begun coordinating with the generals. He used the "chicken and the egg" metaphor to describe the situation, indicating that it was not clear who really started the political crisis. He noted that while civil society is rapidly maturing, it is still young and fragile and there is a danger of politicizing it in the current atmosphere. He said that he does not believe that people participating in the pro-coup rallies are truly sincere, characterizing them as "rallies of opportunity." He noted that ministers have been traveling to the interior of the country to lead rallies, but must people are only participating because they hope that it will lead to personal benefits under the new regime.


Meeting with Released Refugee Program Head


24. (C) Ambassador and DCM met August 12 with Moussa Fall, director of the national refugee agency, who had been arrested with President Abdallahi and released on August Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT478 Date04/09/2008 12:45 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL Header Excerpt from document summary (C) Ambassador met on September 2 with the junta’s "Foreign Minister," Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou at the latter’s request. Noting the historically good relations between the United States and Mauritania, Ould Mohamedou hoped that these could continue even under the current "difficult circumstances.

Full Document VZCZCXRO5232 RR RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0478 2481245 ZNY CCCCC ZZH R 041245Z SEP 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7576 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0137 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0185 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0502 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0632 Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000478 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2011 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, CPAS, MR SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH JUNTA’S "FOREIGN MINISTER" Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for reasons 1.4 (b and d)

1. (C) Ambassador met on September 2 with the junta’s "Foreign Minister," Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou at the latter’s request. Noting the historically good relations between the United States and Mauritania, Ould Mohamedou hoped that these could continue even under the current "difficult circumstances." Launching into the regime’s standard denunciation of President Abdallahi, he characterized the coup as regrettable but necessary, professed understanding for the West’s principled position but also pleaded for understanding, help and the avoidance of "confrontation." Calling Mauritanian society fragile and divided, he said that public statements of condemnation and threats of sanctions were not helpful.

2. (C) Denying that the USG sought confrontation, Ambassador Boulware said that, with the coup, Mauritania had embarked upon a path that neither the USG nor the international community could accept. He reiterated our demand that President Abdallahi and Prime Minister Waghef be released and restored to their functions and that Mauritania return to constitutional order. Noting that time was extremely short, Ambassador urged that Mauritania accept the hand of friendship extended to them. Insisting that the regime was committed to democracy, Ould Mohamedou asserted that parliament represented the people and could be the vehicle for a return to constitutional order. Ambassador Boulware said that President Abdallahi was the legitimate elected leader of Mauritania and that parliament operating under the shadow of the military junta could not confer a legitimacy that the constitution did not provide. He said the USG understood that the return to constitutional order would not, in itself, resolve all of Mauritania’s political problems but that it was an essential point of departure from which to go forward. In response to Ould Mohamedou’s plea that the US identify possible options, Ambassador Boulware replied that although AU Commissioner Jean Ping had raised different potential exit strategies with General Aziz there had been no serious Mauritanian response. The Ambassador urged that the AU be seriously engaged and the sooner the better. 3. (C) Ambassador Boulware noted that several people had now visited President Abdallahi and said that his own request to visit him still stood. Ould Mohamedou promised to try to arrange a visit. When Ould Mohamedou recalled his positive experiences while living in the US, Ambassador inquired whether he had acquired US citizenship when living there. Ould Mohamedou said that he had but preferred that the fact not be made public. The Ambassador said that he did not intend to do so, but thought that Ould Mohamedou’s US citizenship might make his own situation particularly delicate in view of potential personal sanctions.

4. (C) Ould Mohamedou, himself only recently returned from the US, did not radiate confidence during the meeting and seemed unprepared for the firm US response to arguments we have heard all too often already. He seemed particularly unsettled by the inquiry about his US citizenship. We do not expect Ould Mohamedou to play a significant role in the junta government and suspect that his selection was inspired by the hope that his US academic credentials and connections could temper the USG’s response to the coup. Boulware

08NOUAKCHOTT449 Date21/08/2008 03:10 OriginEmbassy Nouakchott ClassificationCONFIDENTIAL Header Excerpt from document summary (C) On August 21 Ba Samba Mamadou, the Deputy Director for American and Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), called on the Embassy to disavow a recent press report suggesting that Libyan leader Muammar Qadafi had offered to off-set Israeli assistance to Mauritania provided General Abdel Aziz agreed to severe diplomatic relations with Israel.

Full Document VZCZCXRO5861 OO RUEHPA RUEHTRO DE RUEHNK #0449 2341510 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 211510Z AUG 08 FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7542 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0118 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0166 RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0483 RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0272 RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0612 RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS Content C O N F I D E N T I A L NOUAKCHOTT 000449 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2018 TAGS: PREF, PGOV, MR, IS SUBJECT: MFA SAYS RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL WILL REMAIN INTACT REF: NOUAKCHOTT 443 Classified By: Ambassador Mark M. Boulware for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1.(C) On August 21 Ba Samba Mamadou, the Deputy Director for American and Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), called on the Embassy to disavow a recent press report suggesting that Libyan leader Muammar Qadafi had offered to off-set Israeli assistance to Mauritania provided General Abdel Aziz agreed to severe diplomatic relations with Israel. The report, carried by the local Arabic language newspaper Al-Akhbar, was attributed to an anonymous source within the MFA and relayed a supposed conversation between Qadhafi and High State Council (HCE) member General Ghazawni (Ref. A).

2.(C) Ba indicated that he was acting on orders directly from Gen. Aziz to reassure the U.S. that the Al-Akhbar report was unfounded and that Gen. Aziz had no intention of severing relations with Israel. Ba said that in his personal opinion, respect for diplomatic relations with Israel was ingrained within the Mauritanian military. He also said that President Abdallahi was under a lot of pressure from Muslim groups to revisit Mauritania’s traditional relationship with Israel and the military, and Gen. Aziz in particular, was better placed to serve as a guardian for Mauritania’s ties to Israel.

3.(C) Comment: The Mauritanians — under either Abdallahi or Aziz — continue to see the Isreali relationship as perhaps THE most important U.S. foreign policy concern in Mauritania.

On several occasions Abdallahi promised to refer the question of diplomatic relations with Israeli to the National Assembly for a vote, but never actually followed through. After reading the Al-Akhbar article on August 20, the Embassy asked Ba if there was any substance to the report.

Ba referred the query to his superiors and received a response, within 24 hours, apparently directly from General Aziz along with orders to deliver the message to the Embassy immediately.

The junta is likely to try to use the relationship as a card to get the U.S. to ease its opposition to the coup.

Boulware

إعداد الدكتور سيدي أحمد ولد الأمير
انطلاق حملة التلقيح ضد التهاب السحايا بمدينة كيفة
انطلقت صباح اليوم الثلاثاء بمدينة بكيفة حملة تلقيح ضد التهاب السحايا،وذلك تحت اشرف الوالي المساعد" توكا (...) التفـاصيل

عاجل:المنتخب الوطني يتكبد خساراة ثقيلة من نظيره المغربي
انتهت قبل قليل مباراة المنتخب الوطني والذي تكبد فيها خساراة ثقيلة من نظيره المغربي، وذلك بنتيجة قوامها أربعة (...) التفـاصيل

سيدي عبد الله بن انبوجه التيشيتي.. إضافة وتصحيح/سيدي أحمد ولد الأمير باحث موريتاني مقيم في قطر
في مقالتي السابقة تحدثت عن مكتبة الحاج عمر الفريدة أو المكتبة العمرية التي آلت بها المقادير إلى أن أصبحت منذ (...) التفـاصيل

كتاب "امروگْ الحرف".. أول تأليف باللهجة الحسانية/سيدي أحمد ولد الأمير، باحث موريتاني مقيم بقطر
مصدر كتاب "امروگْ الحرف" هي النصوص التي تركها الخلاسي السنغالي القس: دافيد بوالا، والموجود أغلبها بأرشيف (...) التفـاصيل

التسلح في موريتانيا في القرن 19.. مكاسب التجارة ومخاوف السياسة
اطلعت على الكثير من المراسلات التي تمت بين الفرنسيين وبين بعض الأمراء الموريتانيين أو الزعماء، وبين يدي عشرات (...) التفـاصيل

المقــالات