n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Islamist extremism in the Sahel sets sights on Mauritania : can Mauritania's President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, survive? - : North Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 08
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A growing wave of militant Islamist extremism throughout Africa's Sahel and Maghreb regions constitutes a grave menace to Mauritania's national security. Geographic proximity to local conflicts, humanitarian crises, routine human rights violations (including slavery), rampant poverty and weak state institutions are all destabilising forces that threaten to turn Mauritania into the next Mali. This means that Mauritania may become the next state to lose control of territory to international jihadist groups. Officials in Mauritania have implemented counter-terrorism policies - that are largely facilitated by Mauritania's partnerships with Western powers - to respond to a growing threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other militias. However, the ongoing regional and domestic turmoil provides reason to doubt the long-term effectiveness of Mauritania's military approaches. As underscored by the rally held in the capital city, Nouakchott, on 23 June, Ansar al-Sharia (AQIM's politicalwing) has well-established itself within Mauritania. While international jihadist groups have targeted Nouakchott for nearly a decade, new realities created by the crisis in Mali increase Mauritania's vulnerability to AQIM.

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