‘A stark contrast’: Tanzanian and Mauritania leaders pick sides in war of words between UAE and Mauritania

Israeli police forces stormed an embassy in Beirut on Monday, arresting a suspected smuggler of illegal weapons and explosives involved in the Hezbollah-led kidnapping and murder of Israeli IOF soldiers.

The arrest was conducted “after a decision by Interpol to ask for his arrest,” said a statement from the Lebanese Ministry of Interior, using the acronym for the international police organization.

At the scene was Raed Saleh, the UAE envoy to Lebanon, who after being confronted by stunned locals questioned why he was there. He wasn’t arrested, as the Lebanese police did not ask for his extradition.

Saleh has been accused of overseeing torture by UAE diplomats who was investigating its neighbour, and his fate is unknown. The UAE denies the allegations.

The arrest took place just hours after Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Mauritania, was appointed the new president of Interpol, pending an upcoming meeting of the group in France.

Nasheed was elected by the larger vote of the General Assembly, with 10 votes in support and five against. On the other hand, David Nisti, Mauritania’s ambassador to South Africa, was refused entry to Mauritania and also barred from attending Interpol’s congress.

Rights organizations had lobbied the Interpol Security Council to reject Nasheed’s nomination. Members of the IOC have denounced the ban, arguing that they have no authority over Interpol.

Tanned and charismatic, Nasheed held office as president of Mauritania between 2012 and 2016. During his tenure, he struck at times controversial stances, claiming he was following a path between Charles Taylor and Jomo Kenyatta, and promised to make his country “an open, democratic and peaceful country.” In 2015, Nasheed launched the Unyielding Dignity campaign in Yemen, calling for the withdrawal of peacekeepers, after 26 Yemeni soldiers were captured.

Relations between the UAE and Mauritania fell out badly in recent months as the latter rejected the Emiratis’ actions against an Al Qaeda man accused of smuggling weapons into Algiers.

Mauritania refused to identify him as a security risk and announced his extradition, prompting the Emiratis to open an inquiry into its neighbour.

According to Amnesty International, Nasheed was recently appointed the Chief Minister of Agadez in western Niger. “This could be an appropriate place to show the stark contrast between the tolerant, progressive Mauritania and the brutal, intolerant and repressive UAE.

“Mohamed Nasheed is not for Interpol, but a member state cannot be restricted from going to the organisation’s general assembly under either international or domestic law.

“There must be an independent inquiry into Interpol’s actions in Mauritania,” said Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International UK.

Nasheed’s previous roles have all suggested a penchant for opportunism, and since his return from exile in January he has already demonstrated a ready willingness to disregard laws.

In addition to being chairman of the Supreme Defense Council for the Burundi Government since 2015, he was appointed to head the Ministry of Defence and the National Security Council in May. And this past August, he was also appointed to chair the Anti-Human Trafficking and Diversion Commission in The Gambia.

Interpol says it has no interest in prosecutions but wants to “suspend the criminal proceedings in order to remove prejudices and build public trust in a recent member state’s implementation of the crime-fighting agency’s ethics charter, which states that member states shall not use Interpol in order to evade justice or persecute persons on account of their nationalities, political views, religious convictions or gender.”

Interpol is currently investigating allegations against its Irish member, whose founders, Sir Arthur Morgan, made offers to assassinate members of its opposition and its UK member, who helped various Islamic groups to silence governments they didn’t agree with.

“These acts constitute illegality and not among its values.”

These men are just the latest members of Interpol’s Board, which has no legal authority to overrule member states on matters of public order.

Iris Gommezovic was an AFP correspondent at the time the initial story appeared on Fox News.

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