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Cablegate: Mauritanian Media Reaction (March 1-10), Gaza Crisis: Rice

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNK #0135 0711755
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111755Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7147
INFO RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 6980

UNCLAS NOUAKCHOTT 000135

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS BBG

STATE FOR AF, AF/W, AF/PAPD, NEA, NEA/IPD, NEA/PPD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KMDR KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: MAURITANIAN MEDIA REACTION (MARCH 1-10), GAZA CRISIS: RICE
VISIT

1. SUMMARY: Throughout the past two weeks the Mauritanian media has
been closely following events in Gaza and Israel. Almost all
coverage has followed mid east wires and other sources from the
region with a generally condemnatory tone towards Israel. Comment
has been limited. However, a number of papers, both Arabic and
French, have carried the statements and calls for demonstrations of
the left leaning Islamic opposition party, national movement for
reform and development (PMRD/Tawassoul). Tawassoul issued a number
of strong denunciations of the Israeli "massacre" and generated
limited local protests against Israel, calling for an end of
Mauritanian/Israeli diplomatic relations. Of more gravity, is a
similar editorial in the March 2, Nouakchott Info, an influential
paper strongly identified with the Prime Minister and the business
community. This editorial appeared in both the French and Arabic
editions of the paper and is outlined below. End Summary

2. The Info editorial leads with, Quote: The massacre perpetrated
by the Israeli army against the Palestinians in the Gaza has largely
targeted the most vulnerable sectors of the Palestinian people,
women, children, and the elderly. The raids made by the Israeli Air
Force continue under cover of the silence of the international
community. End quote.

3. The editorial continues to condemn "the cruel silence" of the
international community and the United Nations toward the genocide
and the disproportionate collective punishment carried out by the
Israeli forces against "harmless civilians," located in "the biggest
prison and the largest ghetto in the world." The article condemned
"the passive attitude" adopted by the government of Arab and Muslim
countries facing this "brutal aggression" against the inhabitants of
the Gaza.

4. All papers carried without comment the Mauritanian Foreign
Ministry statement of March 2nd asking Israel to end the air strikes
and codemning the use of force and violence on both sides. The
statement reaffirmed Mauritania's choice for peace as a strategy on
the one hand and on the other hand its solidarity with the
Palestinian people, calling the international community to intervene
in order to stop the conttinuing bloodbath and find a solution to
the Israeli-Arab conflict so that the Palestinian people could
recover its rights through an independent state with Jerusalem as
capital.

5. However, both Nouakchott Info and its Arabic mirror, Akbar
Nouachott, (also reflective of elements close to PM and business
community) reminded their readers that all political forces in
Mauritania from both opposition and majority have asked for the an
end to relations with Israel, stating that it is time to realize
that "the Mauritania-Israel relations supposed to assist some in
Mauritania only results in isolation and instability." The editorial
underscored that Mauritanians are waiting for President Abdallahi to
honor the commitment he made during the presidential campaign to
present the Israeli-Mauritanian relations question before
Mauritanian parliamentarians and let them to decide. The papers
noted that all parliamentarians from the opposition and the majority
are in favor of the cutting of these relations.

6. The Israeli relations question continued to simmer in the media
into this week. The Secretary General of the Presidency, Ould Ahmed
El Waghef, had been quoted in the Qatari paper, Arraya, last week as
stating that parliamentarians of the majority party, PNDD, as well
as the opposition parties would vote to nullify relations with
Israel if the question came before parliament. In a talk show
discussion on Mauritanian TV, March 8, the party stepped back from
the quote and denied that it had been made.

7. Arabic language papers on March 9 and 10 have mentioned the
retraction noting that the initial statement by the Secretary
General would show that only the President continues to support full
relations with Israel.


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