Mauritania Investigates Granting of Island to Former Qatari Emir

Then-Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz waits the arrival of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Then-Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz waits the arrival of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018. (Reuters)
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Mauritania Investigates Granting of Island to Former Qatari Emir

Then-Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz waits the arrival of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Then-Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz waits the arrival of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at Nouakchott airport, Mauritania, July 2, 2018. (Reuters)

The Mauritanian parliament discussed on Monday amendments to a law establishing the High Court of Justice, which has the authority to prosecute presidents and ministers as per the constitution.

The formation of the court coincides with a parliamentary investigation into corruption files that purportedly involve former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is said to have decided to grant a Mauritanian island to the former Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in 2012 during what was known as the Arab Spring.

The committee formed by the Mauritanian parliament conducted investigations on infrastructure, roads, real estate and energy deals, and listened to the testimonies of ministers and officials, who worked with Ould Abdel Aziz. The last file opened by the committee before submitting its final report next week pertained to a decision taken by the former president on granting a Mauritanian island to the former emir of Qatar.

The documents obtained by the parliamentary committee, leaked by the local media, showed correspondence between the Qatar embassy in Nouakchott and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar about receiving a “beautiful Mauritanian island” as a gift from Ould Abdel Aziz to Hamad bin Khalifa.

In April 2012, Ould Abdel Aziz appointed a presidential advisor, lawyer Ibrahim Ould Daddah, who was instructed to follow up on the procedures for handing over the island to the Qataris and who was later appointed as Minister of Justice.

The case angered a large number of Mauritanians, especially as the said island is located on a coastal basin on the Atlantic Ocean and is a natural reserve and a safe haven for millions of migratory birds and rare types of fish.

Despite the progress of talks between the Qataris and the regime of Ould Abdel Aziz over the gift, discussions were halted when the former president was shot in October 2012, an incident that sent shockwaves across the country. He survived the attack.

Some members of the Mauritanian parliament believe, however, that the former president’s move, even unfinished, constituted a violation of the constitution and could end up with a charge of high treason against him, thus lifting his immunity.



White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.

Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.

Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference, Reuters reported.

Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas's response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.

Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas's response.

"We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality," he said.

He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and "go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with."

"We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure," he said.