Will Mauritania become NATO’s gateway to the Sahel and West Africa?

In mid-January last year, Mauritanian President Mohamed O. Cheikh Ghazouani visited NATO headquarters in the Belgian capital, Brussels, and held talks with the Alliance’s Secretary General, Jens STOLTENBERG, on security and defense issues in the African Sahel region.

NATO revealed at the time that President Ghazouani was the first Mauritanian head of state since the country’s independence to visit the organization’s headquarters, adding that Mauritania has been a partner since 1995, a milestone seen as a prelude to a new phase of cooperation and partnership between the Alliance and Mauritania.

The Secretary-General of NATO then stated that he was “satisfied with the constructive dialogue” he had had with President Ghazouani, adding that this dialogue “could lead to broader cooperation between NATO and Mauritania, in particular on securing borders.

At the last NATO summit, at the end of June last year, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Alliance responsible for security, Javier Colomina, described Mauritania as NATO’s only partner in the Sahel region.

Observers believe that the relationship between Mauritania and the alliance, which includes 20 countries, some of which are among the most powerful in the world, has reached a stage where the country can be described as “a strategic partner” in light of the pioneering role in the Sahel region.

Also based on its leadership within the G5 Sahel, the success of its security approach to armed groups and its control over its entire territory in a complex security context in the region.

In late May, NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Javier Colomina revealed that the Alliance will take a number of measures in the coming years to strengthen its cooperation with Mauritania.

He specified in particular that NATO is working to strengthen and deepen cooperation with Mauritania, which is considered a “central state” in the region and a former partner in the organization.

Spanish effort

Nouakchott recently succeeded in establishing himself as a destination for key leaders of NATO and its member states, the most recent of which is the Spanish Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Teodoro Esteban López, in the middle of last week.

Spain is leading the initiative to bring Mauritania closer to the alliance, with Madrid saying the danger comes from both the south and the east, suggesting the insecurity that could explode in the African Sahel region, as Spain is the European country closest to The darkness. Continent.

At the last NATO summit in Madrid, Spain reaffirmed the need to address the dangers of the African continent, armed groups’ control of large areas and the lack of security could trigger a wave of irregular migration, as Spain will be the first European country to become exposed to it.

Due to Mauritania’s geographical position, NATO is striving for this country to be the first violence, that which shares large borders with Mali, which has recently moved closer to Russia, NATO’s first enemy.

This largely justifies the significant rapprochement between Mauritania and the alliance working to deal with the Russian expansion that has begun in the region, to the detriment of France, the traditional ally of these countries.

Traditional ally

The co – operation relationship between Mauritania and NATO is not new since Mauritania joined the Mediterranean Dialogue Initiative in 1994, which provided the framework for practical co – operation to strengthen security and stability in the region between the Alliance and the Mediterranean countries beyond Mauritania.

The level of cooperation had begun to develop since 2010 with the signing between the two parties “of an individual cooperation program, jointly under the name of a special trust fund financed for two million euros.

This program provided for the destruction of obsolete ammunition, the construction of ammunition depots, in addition to the reintegration of former soldiers.

However, cooperation between Mauritania and NATO has extended to other areas, such as the fight against terrorism, illegal migration through the allocation of funds aimed at strengthening, training and developing the Mauritanian army’s capabilities.

This had been confirmed by NATO Secretary General Jens STOLTENBERG in an interview given to a Spanish newspaper on the eve of the Madrid Summit.

STOLTENBERG had said Mauritania was important to the alliance before revealing that “the organization’s leaders will decide on an aid package for this country, convinced that the safety of our neighbors is also ours.”

At a post – summit press conference, NATO Secretary General said this assistance would focus on supporting Mauritania’s defensive capabilities, focusing on intelligence, maritime security, special operations and the fight against covert migration.

This assistance is part of the organization’s ten-year plan known as the “new strategic concept”, which has emphasized the importance of the African Sahel and the potential danger that could come from it.

But the alliance’s biggest concern seems to be the expansion of Russia into the region, which has already arrived in Mali, whose military leaders have chosen to throw themselves into the arms of the Russian bear.

They have ignored the military agreements that for decades have linked France, the former colonizer and key NATO country, to this African country, today a victim of insecurity and instability.

Mauritania’s strong relationship with NATO, which has grown stronger over the past decade, has led observers to wonder whether Mauritania is becoming the Alliance’s gateway to the Sahel and West Africa.

What price will Mauritania pay for NATO’s support to help its military capabilities as the country moves closer to producing gas in the gas field shared with Senegal, where millions of barrels will be extracted.

There is also more and more talk of major gas discoveries on the coast of Mauritania, while the West’s need for gas and energy is pressing more and more, especially after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. .

Leave a Comment