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Mauritania’s quiet coup
A fledgling democracy in Africa falls, the world yawns.
W

hat happened

President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi of Mauritania has been deposed in a coup led by Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, whom Abdallahi had just fired. Abdallahi -- the African nation’s first democratically elected president since in 1960 -- was elected in 2007 after another coup led by Abdelaziz. (Spero News)

What the commentators said
The military coup in Mauritania isn’t on the front pages of American newspapers, said Alex Ely in Foreign Policy’s Passport blog, but maybe it should be. Mauritania is an oil-rich country that also happens to be "an Islamic republic that recognizes Israel.” It also has a terrorism problem, so the failure of the U.S. government to muster interest in the toppling of its elected leader is hard to understand.

 

The overthrow of President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi might have caused greater concern in Washington, said Stephen Covington in the blog Conservative Pulse, if he had ever been more than a puppet of the country’s strong military. Abdallahi was elected, it’s true. But, as we’ve found in Iraq, creating a stable democracy takes a lot more than holding an election.

Make no mistake, said The Economist in an analysis, Washington is not happy about this coup. America and other nations had high hopes for Abdallahi’s government, which had become a “helpful ally” in the war on terror. The U.S. quickly and forcefully demanded the restoration of the president. The question is “how far the rest of the world is ready to go to reverse what has happened.”

Don’t expect much, said the blog PoliGazette. Mauritania’s turmoil is almost surely just “another round in long-standing power switches between competing economic/political elites.” It won’t change anything for the U.S., so the likelihood of foreign intervention is nil.

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