Country Listing

Mauritania Table of Contents


Relations with Arab States


Saudi-financed mosque in Nouakchott
Courtesy Larry Barrie

In 1987 Mauritania had generally cordial relations with the Arab states of the Middle East, which have provided it with substantial amounts of economic aid. Since the mid-1970s, Mauritania has had especially close ties with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq. Kuwait has provided substantial amounts of food and medicines. Iraq has funded the construction of health and sanitation facilities, schools, and thermal generating stations and has also invested in local mining, fishing, and gypsum industries. Both Saudi Arabia and Iraq--until Iraq became mired in the Iran-Iraq War beginning in 1980--have provided direct budgetary subsidies to the Mauritanian government. In return, Mauritania has lent moral support to Iraq; and in June 1987, following a visit to Nouakchott by a representative of the Kuwaiti government, Taya severed diplomatic relations with Iran to protest its supposed unwillingness to negotiate a settlement in the Iran-Iraq War. (At the same time, Taya, unlike many of his African counterparts, has steadfastly refused to accuse Iran of supporting radical Islamic fundamentalism in his country, presumably because of his policy of remaining on good terms with all Middle Eastern states.)

Data as of June 1988