Mauritania. In March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Mauritania a three-year loan program totaling US $ 118 million. According to COUNTRYAAH, Mauritania has a population of 4.403 million (2018). The purpose of the program is to support the country’s economy, which has been adversely affected by the fuel and food crisis of 2007–08 and subsequently by the financial crisis and the global recession. According to the IMF, the economy was recovering at the beginning of the year and growth was expected at just over 5 percent.
In April, Mauritania established a joint liaison center with neighboring countries Mali, Niger and Algeria to try to stop al-Qaeda’s increasing influence. The cooperation sought to prevent, among other things, suspected terrorists from seeking protection by moving across borders in the region.
In May, three people, with suspected links to al Qaeda, were sentenced to death for the murders of four French tourists in 2007. These were the first death sentences sentenced in Mauritania in over 20 years.
In July, a Malian was sentenced to twelve years in prison for the kidnapping of three Spanish aid workers in southern Mauritania in November 2009. According to the verdict, the man had handed the Spaniards to the North African al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which held another three Europeans hostage. A captured Frenchman was killed in July as revenge for France’s attempt to rescue the hostage. The other kidnappers were released at various times during the year. At the same time, the court in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott sentenced a Mauritanian shepherd to a one-year conditional sentence, while four others were indicted.
In mid-September, the Mauritanian military conducted several air raids and ground attacks in northern Mali to combat suspected militant Islamists in the area. Twelve AQIM rebels and six Mauritanian militants were reported to have been killed. The aim of the campaign was, according to Mauritania, to deter the Islamists. The attacks were sanctioned by the Malian authorities as neighboring countries cooperate to fight al-Qaeda and have a deal that allows the militants to cross borders to fight militant Islamists.