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Algeria-Mauritania: a first state visit in ten years

Algeria Mauritania

At the invitation of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani has been in Algeria since Monday until Wednesday. This is the first visit by a Mauritanian president to Algeria for more than ten years.

Creation of the bilateral border committee, strengthening of trade between Algeria and Mauritania, security cooperation… the state visit of the Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani, in Algeria, seems to be of capital importance.

Especially since the "cordial" relationship between the two neighboring countries has often been hampered by the more hostile one between Algeria and Morocco.

Indeed, for more than two decades, during the war in Western Sahara, Mauritania had sided with Morocco. After Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallah came to power in 1980, Mauritania assumed a more passive role in this conflict. A neutrality which then continued, due to the similarity of the policies of Haidallah and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who formed a military triumvirate with the current President El-Ghazouani.

The latter seems, ultimately, to have regional integration ambitions. On the one hand, some of the projects signed with Algeria will undoubtedly annoy Morocco, in particular the finalization of the last sections of the road between Tindouf in Algeria and Zouerate in Mauritania. It was in November, on this same road, part of which crosses Western Sahara, that Morocco bombed three Algerian trucks crossing towards Mauritania, killing the drivers.

An incident that made people think about the Mauritanian side. The country is looking for trade partners as close and reliable as Algeria, especially for trade in food products and hydrocarbons.

The Nouakchott-Ouargla road, an achievement in the relationship between Algeria and Mauritania

The establishment of the free zone between Algeria and Mauritania in 2019 made it possible to double the volume of trade between the two countries. A gesture on the part of Algiers, the isolation of Mauritania having always been an obstacle. And this, despite the desire of Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El-Ghazouani to restore "cohesion between the Maghreb countries".

In reality, for the Mauritanian head of state, it is above all a question of reviving trade between his country and the border countries. This is hardly possible with Morocco, from which Mauritania is separated by Western Sahara. If, on the one hand, El-Ghazouani has found a lot of goodwill with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, Algeria also seems to be putting the package into an important relationship at the geostrategic level.

The attack on November 3, on the road linking Mauritania and Algeria, does not seem to frighten the Mauritanian president. In fact, the Nouakchott-Ouargla axis is part of a 3 km road. Like the Trans-Saharan, this route is a cornerstone of the African strategy of Algerian diplomacy.

Security cooperation and the fight against neocolonialism

The establishment of the Algerian-Mauritanian bilateral border committee was accompanied by several recommendations, several of which will undoubtedly be initiated during El Ghazouani's visit to Algiers. Among these recommendations, “the intensification of security coordination on common borders through the creation of a common security commission bringing together the security services of the two countries”.

A security cooperation which is reminiscent of that concluded between Algeria and Mali in early October. Since the reinstatement of the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra, the latter is not reluctant to make security cooperation a priority during his visits to Algeria's neighboring countries.

In Mali, Lamamra had declared: “Our foreign partners need to decolonize their own history. They need to free themselves from certain attitudes, behaviors and visions which are intrinsically linked to the inconsistent logic carried by the supposed civilizing mission of the West, which has been the ideological cover used to try to pass crime against the West. humanity, which constitutes the colonization of Algeria, Mali and so many African peoples ”.

It is clear that after the reception with great pomp of the Mauritanian president in Algeria, El Ghazouani spent half a day to reflect on the memorial sites of the Algerian War. Including the Martyrs' Shrine and the National Moudjahid Museum, where he received the Museum Shield.

The definitive return of the Algerian-Mauritanian friendship?

The visit of the Mauritanian president to Algeria made it possible to seal agreements in two sectors of cooperation. The first : importation of basic necessities.

Mauritania imports, at high prices, more than 73% of medicines, 42% of agricultural products, and 59% of other manufactured products from abroad. Globally, 23% of Mauritanian imports come from African countries. While the United Arab Emirates, Spain and France are among the top three suppliers to the country.

Next, the oil sector, which is already attracting the appetite of France, is booming in Mauritania.

However, Nouakchott does not have the capacity to increase the production of crude or to transform its oil into by-products. A sector in which Algeria, the fourth producer country in Africa and the largest in the region, could cooperate with Mauritania.

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