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 Coup in Mauritania

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PostSubject: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:03 am

Al Jazeera - Mauritanian military stages coup

I'll be honest, I haven't heard of this country before. I did think it was Mauritius though.

The democratically elected government has been overthrown bloodlessly by the army. Same old you might say, but the army is headed by the same fellow who handed the country over to the elected government in the first place. It seems he's none to happy though. The price of food hasn't helped this particular situation.

The UN, AU, EU and I think the Yanks, have all condemned this coup. Mauritania is not just another African carrot-grower, they are an oil-producer. They are also one of the model Arab states, they even recognise Israel. With international pressure democracy will hopefully return to the country. The coup leaders have shown themselves willing to voluntarily relinquish power in the past. It seems that this act is as much about reminding people of the military's presence in the run of things.


Last edited by Ard-Taoiseach on Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : to fix spelling.)
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:04 am

905 wrote:
Al Jazeera - Mauritanian military stages coup

I'll be honest, I haven't heard of this country before. I did think it was Mauritius though.

The democratically elected government has been overthrown bloodlessly by the army. Same old you might say, but the army is headed by the same fellow who handed the country over to the elected government in the first place. It seems he's none to happy though. The price of food hasn't helped this particular situation.

The UN, AU, EU and I think the Yanks, have all condemned this coup. Mauritania is not just another African carrot-grower, they are an oil-producer. They are also one of the model Arab states, they even recognise Israel. With international pressure democracy will hopefully return to the country. The coup leaders have shown themselves willing to voluntarily relinquish power in the past. It seems that this act is as much about reminding people of the military's presence in the run of things.

It goes to show how arbitrary and irrelevant the status of 'Model Arab State' is, when it is applied a country which both executes homosexuals and apostates, on the basis it recognises Israel and supports America. Model Arab state clearly does not mean that they are in anyway liberal or conform to Human rights' legislation. It is a designation based on the status of diplomatic relations with the Great Satan.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:34 am

Mauritania is supposed to be the one of the few states where slavery is still part of everyday life. Society is divided between "white"Arabs, "black" Arabs and blacks with, unsurprisingly, the "white" Arabs running the place and the blacks constituting the majority of the slave population. Rabobank voiceover guru Sean Moncrieff published a book a couple of years back about bonkers rulers and this country was featured. I think I remember him saying the the country's borders were arbitrarily set by the French and that it was a kind of makey-uppey place.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:56 am

Slim Buddha wrote:
I think I remember him saying the the country's borders were arbitrarily set by the French and that it was a kind of makey-uppey place.
I thought pretty much all of Africa was in the same situation.
Didn't the European Powers carve the continent up during the Berlin Conference by simply drawing lines across a map?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:27 am

AfricanDave wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
I think I remember him saying the the country's borders were arbitrarily set by the French and that it was a kind of makey-uppey place.
I thought pretty much all of Africa was in the same situation.
Didn't the European Powers carve the continent up during the Berlin Conference by simply drawing lines across a map?

There's a book called "States of Africa" with a bit about this in it and a much better tv documentary. The worst affected were the central states like Chad and Somalia that cut up across completely different geographical, ecological and communal regions arbitrarily as a share out between colonial powers - the north in each case is Arab and was nomadic, and Muslim, the south black African, animistic and agrarian. There have been endless wars as a result.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:20 am

I wanted to travel down there when I was in Morocco but it was just a plan. The Lonely Planet told me that Morocco and Mauritania had been at odds over the territory between them, Western Sahara - why this territory is valuable to either of them is a mystery as a lot of the coast down there is desert. Are there some food shortages because of droughts there or what which have provoked this coup? Three-quarters of Mauritania is desert, wikipedia compares is to Egypt but Mauritania doesn't have the world's second most extensive river system running through it.



Quote :
Mauritania, along with Morocco, annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third at the request of former colonial power Spain. After several military losses to Polisario, heavily armed and supported by Algeria, the local hegemon and rival to Morocco, Mauritania retreated in 1979, and its claims were taken over by Morocco. Due to economic weakness, Mauritania has been a negligible player in the territorial dispute, with its official position being that it wishes for an expedient solution that is mutually agreeable to all parties. While most of the former Spanish or Western Sahara has been woven into Morocco, the UN still considers the Western Sahara a territory that needs to express its wishes with respect to statehood: a referendum is still supposed to be held sometimes in the future, under UN auspices, to determine whether the "saharaouis" wish to remain part of Morocco or not. The Moroccan authorities, on their part, wish the saharaouis to remain part of Morocco and, as such, have made significant investments in the area.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritania
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:41 am

The population is estimated at 3 million. I wonder is it as close knit a country as Ireland was with that population.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:49 am

The father of a guy who was in my year in secondary school was the Nigerian ambassador to Mauritania. I wonder how they're getting on, I'll give him an e-mail.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:16 pm

Auditor #9 wrote:
I wanted to travel down there when I was in Morocco but it was just a plan. The Lonely Planet told me that Morocco and Mauritania had been at odds over the territory between them, Western Sahara - why this territory is valuable to either of them is a mystery as a lot of the coast down there is desert. Are there some food shortages because of droughts there or what which have provoked this coup? Three-quarters of Mauritania is desert, wikipedia compares is to Egypt but Mauritania doesn't have the world's second most extensive river system running through it.



Quote :
Mauritania, along with Morocco, annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third at the request of former colonial power Spain. After several military losses to Polisario, heavily armed and supported by Algeria, the local hegemon and rival to Morocco, Mauritania retreated in 1979, and its claims were taken over by Morocco. Due to economic weakness, Mauritania has been a negligible player in the territorial dispute, with its official position being that it wishes for an expedient solution that is mutually agreeable to all parties. While most of the former Spanish or Western Sahara has been woven into Morocco, the UN still considers the Western Sahara a territory that needs to express its wishes with respect to statehood: a referendum is still supposed to be held sometimes in the future, under UN auspices, to determine whether the "saharaouis" wish to remain part of Morocco or not. The Moroccan authorities, on their part, wish the saharaouis to remain part of Morocco and, as such, have made significant investments in the area.
[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritania
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauritania[/quote[/url]]

the big resources in question here are offshore - the fishing is very good (well was until the EU fleets got on the scene) and mineral rights are potentially very good and Western Saharas coastline is massive.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:47 pm

Edo wrote:
the big resources in question here are offshore - the fishing is very good (well was until the EU fleets got on the scene) and mineral rights are potentially very good and Western Saharas coastline is massive

Of course.
Quote :
Aside from its rich phosphate deposits and fishing waters, Western Sahara has few natural resources and lacks sufficient rainfall for most agricultural activities. There is speculation that there may be rich off-shore oil and natural gas fields, but the debate persists as to whether these resources can be profitably exploited, and if this would be legally permitted due to the non-decolonized status of Western Sahara (see below).

Western Sahara's economy is centred around nomadic herding, fishing, and phosphate mining. Most food for the urban population is imported. All trade and other economic activities are controlled by the Moroccan government. The government has encouraged citizens to relocate to the territory by giving subsidies and price controls on basic goods. These heavy subsidies have created a state-dominated economy in the Moroccan-controlled parts of Western Sahara, with the Moroccan government as the single biggest employer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_sahara

It's right next to the Canary Islands - a more interesting place to visit too, perhaps.

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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:06 pm

Did anybody say oil?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:07 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Did anybody say oil?

Wouldn't you love the shapes of those African states: they look as thought they were drawn up by a child with a 6" ruler.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:17 pm

riadach wrote:

It goes to show how arbitrary and irrelevant the status of 'Model Arab State' is, when it is applied a country which both executes homosexuals and apostates, on the basis it recognises Israel and supports America. Model Arab state clearly does not mean that they are in anyway liberal or conform to Human rights' legislation. It is a designation based on the status of diplomatic relations with the Great Satan.
I think the status of model Arab state owes more to their former democratic status than to supporting the Americans. It would also refer to their benign military, another notion now out the window. Talk about a tarnishing.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:40 pm

905 wrote:
riadach wrote:

It goes to show how arbitrary and irrelevant the status of 'Model Arab State' is, when it is applied a country which both executes homosexuals and apostates, on the basis it recognises Israel and supports America. Model Arab state clearly does not mean that they are in anyway liberal or conform to Human rights' legislation. It is a designation based on the status of diplomatic relations with the Great Satan.
I think the status of model Arab state owes more to their former democratic status than to supporting the Americans. It would also refer to their benign military, another notion now out the window. Talk about a tarnishing.

Well, how democratic can a country be when the majority exert tyranny over a minority?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:42 pm

riadach wrote:
905 wrote:
riadach wrote:

It goes to show how arbitrary and irrelevant the status of 'Model Arab State' is, when it is applied a country which both executes homosexuals and apostates, on the basis it recognises Israel and supports America. Model Arab state clearly does not mean that they are in anyway liberal or conform to Human rights' legislation. It is a designation based on the status of diplomatic relations with the Great Satan.
I think the status of model Arab state owes more to their former democratic status than to supporting the Americans. It would also refer to their benign military, another notion now out the window. Talk about a tarnishing.

Well, how democratic can a country be when the majority exert tyranny over a minority?

It could easily be argued that this is the essence of democracy.
But maybe you meant to say it the other way 'round?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:11 pm

On slavery in Mauritania:
Quote :
Slavery in Mauritania is an entrenched phenomenon the national government has repeatedly tried to abolish, banning the practice in 1905, 1981, and August 2007.[1][2] The descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery now live in Mauritania as "black Moors" or haratin and partially still serve the "white Moors", or bidhan, as slaves.

The number of slaves in the country was not known exactly, but is was estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population [3][4]. Kevin Bales believes that the percentage of slaves was the highest in the world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Mauritania
20% of the population? The Blacks make up about 30% of the population overall.

Here's what Encyclopedia Britannica had to say:
Quote :
The Moors constitute more than two-thirds of the population; about half of them are white, or bīdān, Moors of Arab and Berber descent, and about half are black Moors, of Sudanic origin. Moorish society historically was divided into a hierarchy of castes. At the head of the socioeconomic structure were the noble castes, composed of ʿarabs, or warriors, and Murābit (marabouts), or priests and scholars of the Qurʾān. The warriors were usually Arab, and the marabouts were usually Berber. The mass of the bīdān population were vassals who received protection from the warriors or marabouts in return for tribute... Servant classes were formed of black Moors and were subdivided into ʿabid, or slaves, and hartani, or freedmen. Among the ethnic and racial groups, blacks became the better educated and held most technical, professional, and diplomatic posts at the time of independence. Members of this “servant” caste, which developed as the bureaucratic class, became increasingly aware of their rights as citizens. Slavery was abolished by the French before independence and was officially abolished again on July 5, 1980, but subsequent reports claimed that the practice had continued. In 2007 the country’s legislature passed a bill that made slavery a criminal offense.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/370109/Mauritania#tab=active~checked%2Citems~checked&title=Mauritania%20--%20Britannica%20Online%20Encyclopedia
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:36 pm

AfricanDave wrote:
riadach wrote:
905 wrote:
riadach wrote:

It goes to show how arbitrary and irrelevant the status of 'Model Arab State' is, when it is applied a country which both executes homosexuals and apostates, on the basis it recognises Israel and supports America. Model Arab state clearly does not mean that they are in anyway liberal or conform to Human rights' legislation. It is a designation based on the status of diplomatic relations with the Great Satan.
I think the status of model Arab state owes more to their former democratic status than to supporting the Americans. It would also refer to their benign military, another notion now out the window. Talk about a tarnishing.

Well, how democratic can a country be when the majority exert tyranny over a minority?

It could easily be argued that this is the essence of democracy.
But maybe you meant to say it the other way 'round?

No I did not. True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:38 pm

re Riadach's post above, I entirely agree. People weight too much emphasis on the flawed model of Athenian democracy which is not the democracy which we enjoy today. We enjoy liberal democracy, the essence of which is as you say above, the rule of the majority, but not at the expense of the minority.

How could we condemn the Stormont administration of the 1960s otherwise?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:40 pm

riadach wrote:
True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
Ha, bugger all good they've done for the Kurds.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:44 pm

905 wrote:
riadach wrote:
True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
Ha, bugger all good they've done for the Kurds.

Are we speaking now about Turkey?

I don't think Turkey is a model for the balance of executive, legislative, judicial and military power. In Turkey they have frequently overlapped, unfortunately, very much at the expense of its minority populations.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:53 pm

I'm just saying that a constitution and a judiciary aren't the answer to every problem democracy throws at us.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:56 pm

riadach wrote:
905 wrote:
riadach wrote:
True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
Ha, bugger all good they've done for the Kurds.

Are we speaking now about Turkey?

I don't think Turkey is a model for the balance of executive, legislative, judicial and military power. In Turkey they have frequently overlapped, unfortunately, very much at the expense of its minority populations.

I think they should be given good marks for trying, in relation to maintaining secular government. Given location and history, things could have gone a lot worse.

The Kurds are a very large and dispersed population sitting on top of a lot of oil. They have been used and abused by the US, Saddam and probably others.
Are they looking for self-determination or for a better deal as part of various regions?
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:57 pm

905 wrote:
I'm just saying that a constitution and a judiciary aren't the answer to every problem democracy throws at us.

No, neither did I say they were. However, when used independently and correctly they can handle most of them. Naturally, as in everything, there are exceptions, and both Israel and Turkey spring rather quickly to mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:08 pm

cactus flower wrote:
riadach wrote:
905 wrote:
riadach wrote:
True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
Ha, bugger all good they've done for the Kurds.

Are we speaking now about Turkey?

I don't think Turkey is a model for the balance of executive, legislative, judicial and military power. In Turkey they have frequently overlapped, unfortunately, very much at the expense of its minority populations.

I think they should be given good marks for trying, in relation to maintaining secular government. Given location and history, things could have gone a lot worse.

Given their history towards their Greek and Armenian populations, you could indeed be right. However, should their zeal for secularism have undermined their democracy? Certainly not. The goal of secularism is to ensure that everyone has a right to expression of their religion, not just those within the majority. Secularism in Turkey, however, undermined the rights of the majority to express their religion too. I wonder if this drive to suppress an islamic consciousness and identity amongst its people, precipitated a more nationalistic consciousness and Turkish identity, which, among other things, has resulted in a refusal to recognise the Armenian genocide and a reluctance to accept any nationality or sub-culture other than the main Turkish one. It certainly has given the army 'just cause' to usurp the democracy of that nation on numerous occassions, undermining basic human rights in the pursuit of a philosophy whose fundamental goal is to preserve them.
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PostSubject: Re: Coup in Mauritania   Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:20 pm

riadach wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
riadach wrote:
905 wrote:
riadach wrote:
True democracy respects the will of the majority while also respecting the rights of the minority. It's why we have an independent judiciary and a constitution.
Ha, bugger all good they've done for the Kurds.

Are we speaking now about Turkey?

I don't think Turkey is a model for the balance of executive, legislative, judicial and military power. In Turkey they have frequently overlapped, unfortunately, very much at the expense of its minority populations.

I think they should be given good marks for trying, in relation to maintaining secular government. Given location and history, things could have gone a lot worse.

Given their history towards their Greek and Armenian populations, you could indeed be right. However, should their zeal for secularism have undermined their democracy? Certainly not. The goal of secularism is to ensure that everyone has a right to expression of their religion, not just those within the majority. Secularism in Turkey, however, undermined the rights of the majority to express their religion too. I wonder if this drive to suppress an islamic consciousness and identity amongst its people, precipitated a more nationalistic consciousness and Turkish identity, which, among other things, has resulted in a refusal to recognise the Armenian genocide and a reluctance to accept any nationality or sub-culture other than the main Turkish one. It certainly has given the army 'just cause' to usurp the democracy of that nation on numerous occassions, undermining basic human rights in the pursuit of a philosophy whose fundamental goal is to preserve them.

A very unsteady balancing act indeed.
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