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Mauritania - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Mauritania is a unique country that spans Africa and the Arab world; consequently, its conditions may differ to the rest of the Arab states.

Mauritania was renowned for its well-established jurisprudential studies and for producing preachers and scholars. Moreover, it was well-known for its moderation and tolerance.

Recently, Mauritania had the opportunity to make political history in the Arab world, a region that is unaccustomed to good news in the world of politics. Therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise when the military leader Colonel Ould Vall fulfilled his promise and set a date to restore civilian rule.

This news item had an astonishing impact since Arabs have become accustomed to the military going back on its word and remaining in power with no foreseeable end in sight. However, Mauritania failed to purge itself of this Arab trait and the military went back to its old ways as a coup was carried out against the will of the people and history once again repeated itself. The people inside and outside of Mauritania should take this difference in timing into account and should never dream again.

“Arab” Mauritania could get away with the recent coup as this is not a strange or abnormal situation; however this is not the case for “African” Mauritania because “Mandela’s Africa” has begun to rewrite its political history, and government and civil institutions have begun to monitor the seriousness of political activity, elections and transparency. In addition, the rules of judicious governance are being applied and monitored in an effective, honest and apt manner. Therefore, President Mugabe’s model in Zimbabwe seems to be the “odd one out” and is need of rehabilitation and serious penalties. It is clear that Africa today provides the world with more examples of judicious governance and political institutions than the Arab world does.

The coup that took place in Mauritania brings to mind scores of figures who gained strength via the military even at the expense of the homeland so that the ruling military leader effectively and practically becomes the symbol, the state, and represents hope and reform. And of course, throughout all of that, he speaks calmly and kindly as the army’s weapons point towards the heads of his citizens. What a solution!

Although the recent military coup in Mauritania is a purely local incident and has shocked the Mauritanians first and foremost, it has also affected the Arab world, which barely clings on to the hope of a long awaited political reform and judicious governance. Yet it seems that this cannot be attained. Will this region accept reform? I don’t think so!

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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