Gulf Countries are expanding their reach into the Sahel area and Mauritania is not an exception to this trend. However, its love overdose for Saudi Arabia highly contrasts with the pseudo-crisis that the relation between the Kingdom of the Saud and the Maghreb countries is going through.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Mauritania are not new but have never been of importance to the kingdom. As in many places, relations were limited to the proselytization by Saudi agents intended to expand their rigorist vision of Islam – Wahabism – to other societies. In this regard, during the 60’s, and amid the fierce regional power competition against Abdel Nasser’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia financed the construction of mosques, charitable projects, individual preachers, religious schools and Islamic centers, operated by institutions close to the Saudi state such as the Muslim World League (established in 1962), the Ministry for Islamic Affairs and the Haramayn Charitable Foundation. Many of these institutions were closed during the crackdown on Islamists carried out by the Mauritanian regime in the early 2000s.
However, cooperation beyond that aspect has never been solid, as Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem, a professor of political science at the University of Nouakchott, recognizes. Saudi Arabia support has been confined to specific moments and through multilateral institutions such as the Arab Fund for Social Economic Development and the Islamic Development Bank, but most of the times is limited to humanitarian assistance.
Part of the explanation for the lack of stronger ties lies in the complicated relations between Mauritania and Morocco, due to the former’s recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on Western Sahara’s territory. Since Saudi-Moroccan relations have been strong, Mauritania has always been relegated to a minor role. However, the recent disagreements between both monarchies due to the Qatar crisis, among other reasons, may have prompted Mauritanian authorities to seek
In the last two years, cooperation between both countries has reached levels never seen in the past. In January 2017 Mauritania and Saudi Arabia signed a military agreementfor joint cooperation in the fields of military training, information
To thank the newly found trust by the Saudi regime, Mauritania has not run short in gestures. For instance, 500 to 700 Mauritanian military
Finally, Saudi Arabia has become quite involved in the funding of the G5-Sahel joint force (a French-sponsored alliance grouping Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad