By Mohammed Ouhemmou
By Mohammed Ouhemmou
Rabat – Since the Secretary-General of the Independence Party made his controversial statement about the borders of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and its territorial integrity, the Mauritanian media issued a slew of articles about Hamid Chabat’s statement and Moroccan-Mauritanian relations.
The articles ranged from calling for the de-escalation of the situation, while a few others adopted a more aggressive stance against Morocco.
The Mauritanian coverage of Chabat’s statement was impressively sensitive and nuanced. Most of the news articles and opinion articles diverged from the established view that Chabat’s statements are representative of the Moroccan people and the Moroccan state.
The opposition parties also showed a similar attitude by calling for improvements to the relations between the two states and encouraging immunity to the whims of politics.
Mauritanian writer Ismail Weld Chikh, for one, criticized Chabat’s statement, arguing that the Istiqlal party is losing more and more votes in every election, so its leadership is seemingly playing on nationalist and historical sentiment in an effort to gain the sympathy of Moroccans.
According to Ismail Weld Chikh, the two states should put history behind them and focus on current issues that require cooperation.
Other news article adopted hostile views of Morocco, representing it as a force of occupation. An article published by Alhassad titled, “What Does Morocco Want From Mauritania?” claims that the deterioration of the relationship between the two states is caused by Morocco’s attempts to gab land that lawfully belongs to Mauritania.
The article recalls that Morocco was the last country in the world to recognize Mauritania as an independent state, a reminder intended to portray a negative image of Morocco.
While Moroccan news outlets have not mentioned the exact goal of Benkirane’s visit, many Mauritanian news outlets state that the visit was about presenting a formal apology to Mauritania.
Mauritanian news source Ethaira published an article entitled, “Moroccan PM in Nouakchott to Appease Mauritania.” Alhassad followed suit with an article titled, “Benkirane Visits Mauritania to Apologize.”
Between the visit of the appointed PM and the statement from Chabat, Morocco appears to the Mauritanian media as incapable of restraining its political players and exerting control, which is typical of the behavior of an aspiring regional power.
In the eyes of Mauritanian media, Benkirane’s visit does seek to repair the relations, but rather to promote the image of Mauritania as the wise and reasonable brother tolerating the reckless and imprudent Morocco.
However, this does not deny the fact that the Mauritanian media dealt with the Moroccan initiative in a highly positive manner.