Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Iranian Influence Spread Through Israeli Efforts

Mauritania has quite a few problems. Amongst these, is that the African Union (of which it is a member) is looking at sanctions against it because of the military coup held in the country last year and the elections promised in the country are expected to be corrupt, if they happen at all. Also, until quite recently, Mauritania was one of three Arab League countries to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

These relations were recently terminated in the wake of Israel's campaign against Hamas. One casualty of this break in relations is that Israel will no longer be able to continue work on a state-of-the-art Cancer hospital being built in the country by Israelis. No matter for Mauritania though. It seems Iran will be picking up where Israel left off.

Amid allegations and concerns that what may be a new repressive government in Mauritania will find support from other repressive governments, such as Iran, an Iranian minister was recently welcomed in Mauritania. Promises were made to continue work on the hospital that Israel began and to increase trade. Some are even alleging that Iran paid Mauritania to break off ties with Israel.

There are many angles to this story that could be examined, for example, the bolstering of a government brought to power in a military coup and the possible rise of extremism in the country. Most upsetting, however, is that this hospital, which could have represented increasing relations between the two countries; which could have positively reinforced within Mauritania the value of peaceful relations with Israel, and even stood as an example for other countries, may now have this impact with a far more sinister state. What a shame that the hospital known in the country as the "Israeli" hospital, may now become the "Iranian" hospital and could now positively incline the people of Mauritania to Iran. At a time when Iran threatens Israel, the Arab world, and the West, another country falling into the Iranian sphere of influence cannot be a positive thing.

It will also be interesting to see if Iran takes credit for the work Israel has already done on the hospital, or if it will give credit where credit is due.

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