Guerguerate : With the blessing of the UN and the United States, is Mauritania conducting mediation ?

With the support of the UN and world powers, the Mauritanian head of diplomacy is leading mediation between Morocco and the Polisario. Officially, only Algeria is missing from Nouakchott's contacts.

Mauritania's Foreign Affairs Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. /DR
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Two days before the launch of the operation of November 13 led by the Royal Armed Forces in Guerguerate, the UN Secretary-General encouraged, in a phone call the Mauritanian Foreign Affairs Minister to play the role of mediator between Morocco and the Polisario. Antonio Guterres urged Nouakchott to assume «its positive role recognized by all parties to resolve this crisis».

After securing the flow of goods and people between the two countries, indicators attest that Mauritania has started to be active on the issue. This was noticed through a series of meetings that the Mauritanian Foreign Minister has held in recent days with representatives of influential world capitals on the Western Sahara issue.

Last week, Ismail Ould Cheikh received the Ambassador of France. Yesterday he continued his round of contacts with interviews with the ambassadors of the United States and the United Kingdom. During these meetings, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his interlocutors examined «regional and international developments of common interest», reports Mauritanian news agency AMI.

Only Algeria is missing                    

These discussions with the American and British ambassadors, moreover, preceded the audience that Ould Cheikh granted on the same day to the Polisario envoy, Salem Ould Salek. On November 20, King Mohammed VI and President Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani held a phone call. The latter was an opportunity for the two heads of state to «address the latest regional developments», underlined the royal cabinet in a press release.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is not the only one betting on Mauritania to avoid any escalation in the region; the United States have also shared the same opinion, way before the new crisis. For the record, in the midst of the first round table in Geneva, in December 2018 between Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario, David Hale, the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, called Ismail Ould Cheikh to encourage him to reconcile the views between the representatives of Rabat and Algiers.

It is clear that this mediation, which world powers and the United Nations agree to entrust to Mauritania on the Sahara issue, has not yet attracted the attention of Algeria. Officially, since the operation of the Royal Armed Forces of November 13 in Guerguerate, there has been no contact between the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Algerian counterpart Sabri Boukadoum. And yet, he has already raised the same subject, during a phone call, with EU representative Josep Borrell and Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

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