African States Stake Out Range of Positions in the Wake of Qatar-Gulf Rift

In the aftermath of the decision by five Arab nations to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar, African countries adopted positions ranging from unequivocally siding against Doha to calling for dialogue and an end to the feud.

The West African nation of Mauritania, as well as Comoros, the island nation off the coast of East Africa, both announced they were breaking ties with Doha. “Qatar has developed a habit of questioning the principles on which common Arab action is based,” said the official statement from Mauritania, a member of the Arab League. Radio France Internationale reported that the relationship between Qatar and Mauritania had been mixed prior to this week, with private Qatari money financing projects such as a tourist complex, even as Mauritanian officials accused Qatar of backing extremist groups in neighboring Mali as well as the Mauritanian Islamist opposition party Tawassoul.

Chad and Senegal both recalled their ambassadors to Doha; Senegal expressed “active solidarity” with Saudi Arabia though also noted that ties with Qatar were not formally suspended. Karim Wade, the son of Senegal’s previous president, Abdoulaye Wade, relocated to Qatar last year after serving three years behind bars for corruption.

Qatar also came in for criticism from Gabon, which condemned “recurring actions . . . in favor of terrorism.” And Djibouti announced that it was downgrading its diplomatic representation in Qatar. Algeria, Sudan and Somalia were among the countries that called for dialogue.

As the BBC noted, Saudi Arabia “has pumped billions of dollars over the years in economic and religious programs across the continent,” and African countries “already make up more than half of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.” At the same time, Qatar can also claim significant African investments and aid expenditures. Doha has also been involved in mediating African conflicts such as the border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea.

 

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