Iranian bids to export Shia ideology to Mauritania began at the end of the 70s of the last century and beginning of 80s, after the Iranian revolution, through the missionary activities and through the Shia publications and magazines, especially the books of the famous Iranian scholars like Mohamed Baqir al Sadr, Mohammed Ali Shariati and Mohamed Hossein Fazl-Allah and these publications triggered controversy among the youths in Mauritania especially among those youths who returned from Egypt, Tunisia and Eastern Arab region who were attracted to the deceiving slogan of Islamic revolution in Iran, but the then Mufti Bada valid al Busairy was strong to defend the bids to spread the Shia doctrine in the country and he warned the Mauritanian youths not to be deceived by this Shia move. The support of Mauritania to Iraq during its war with Iran made the relations between two countries tense and the relations were severed.
Presence of Shia colonel to deal with government in Mauritania
In the end of 1984, Colonel Maaouya Ould Sidi’Ahmed Taya, reached into power in Mauritania through a military coup, the Iranian medias conducted campaign against Mauritania and he spokesman of the Iranian government commented “ the name of the new President bears no good” in a clear wrath of Shia doctrine to the name of the companion of Prophet Maaouya bin Abu Sufyan and this situation remained until August 2005, when the Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vali ousted Maaouya Ould Taya through a military coup and the Iran returned again to use Shia doctrines in their dealing with Mauritania and the Iranian medias gave coverage for this coup “ Finally Ely ousted Maaouya in Mauritania” and the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmed Nejadi tried to meet new Mauritanian President Ely Ould Mohamed Vali on the sidelines of the OIC summit in Mecca at the end of 2005 which re-established the relations between two countries and led to open embassies in the capital of each country.
The coming war from the south
During the severance of relations between Iran and Mauritania since the early 80s until the end of 2005, Iranians tried to peneterate into the religious and intellectual system of Mauritania and to export the Shia thought, through doctrinal and intellectual war using the neighboring western African countries, the Shiasim appeared for the first time in Senegal the neighboring country of Mauritania in the end of 90s of the last century after the visit of the Shia authority Musa Al Sadr to the region and staying of Shia religious scholar Abdel Munim al Zayn in Senegal where the Shia Lebanese and Senegalese traders mingled with the Mauritanian traders in Senegal and western Africa and they could attract some of them and to convince them about the Shia belief and the Iranians took advantage of the sympathy that Hezbollah had among the Arabs in general and in Mauritania in particular for its resistance thought against Israel but the Syrian revolution exposed this when Hezbollah supported the regime of Bashar Al Assad against the Syrian people which showed the racial tendency of the Hezbollah.
The Iranians also utilized the rapprochement between Sufis and Shia people, especially in Mauritania which is famous in terms of Sufi ways, and Sufis are related in general with authorities and places in Senegal and western Africa and the Sufis are famous with their relation with family of Prophet and love to his family, which was used as a passage by Iranians to penetrate to the country and to get their sympathy depending the principle of dissimulation which is the fundamental basis of the Shia doctrine and the establishment of the Iranian institutions to export the Shia thought which were financed by the associations and personalities loyal to Shia thought also should be added to this.
Outsets of the Shia appearance in Mauritania
Shia doctrine appeared in Mauritania in 2006, when a Mauritanian named Bakar Walad Bakar in 50s declared his adherence to Shia thought, declaring that he doesn’t belong to Shia or to the 12th doctrinal thought of Shia or to Nusairi thought or Yezdi, he was illiterate religiously and he contacted with the medias before he was financed by the Iranian embassy to visit Qum in Iran to meet the Shia religious authorities and he sources tell that Bakar organised Shia activities like the festivals of Ashura’a and day of treason and the first public appearance of Shia in Mauritania was in 2011 when Bakar Walad Bakar tied to gather his followers most of them were from his family and some ordinary men who were poor financially and illiterate in order to commemorate Ahura’a in a home in Arafat street south of the capital Nouakchott and some Mauritanian scholars defied him and warned the authorities on the consequences of negligence towards the expansion of Shia thought in the country and some Mauritanian scholars described effort of Iran to penetrate into Mauritanian more dangerous than the calls to normalize the relation with Israel considering the ugly intentions of Iran. He established an association “ Al Tahirin” but the authorities refused to give license, later he established another association “ Bakar Cultural and Science Association” which was allowed and it began its cultural activities to cover its Shia activities.
From Senegal to Mauritania
After the appearance of Bakar, some Mauritanians in Senegal who accepted Shia belief secretly began to return their country and “Ahmed Yahya Walad Bilal” 50, was one of the famous scholar, who was skilled in Jurisprudence, Arabic language and he had visited Iran before he announced his adherence to Shia thought, he had met Shia religious authorities, he visited Lebanon and he kept wide relations with Shia in Senegal and he succeeded in attracting some of his families and in using them to spread the Shia belief.
The Mauritanian rich trader Mohamed Al Sheikh Haidra, who possesses huge investments in western Africa, his activities were confined to Senegal, Guinea and Gambia but after the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Mauritania he returned to Mauritania and he is considered as the financial and knowledge wing of Iran in the region, who has written many books on Shia defense and his studies and activities concentrated on spreading the beliefs of Shia on temporary marriage, insulting Umayyad family, companions of Prophet and Caliphs and he has discord with some Mauritanian Shias whom he accuses of ignorance and opportunism especially “Bakar Walad Bakar”.
Mauritania witnessed birth of Association “ Leage of Ahlul Bayt in Mauritania” which is headed by Ahmed Bimba, even though some websites and Shia bodies consider it as one of the important Shia bodies in Mauritania, the controllers of that Association deny its relation with Iran, asserting that it is a pure Shia Association and the General Secretary of the “League of Ahlul Bait” tells that, we respect Shia and calls for rapprochement with them but we are not content with their doctrine completely”, but those who know the Association and its supporters assert that it belongs to Shia thought and the bid to exempt it from Shia doctrine is only yielding to the principle of dissimulation among Shias.
The economic, cultural and political invasion
Economically Iran tried to exploit the popular rejection against the diplomatic relations with Israel established by the regime of Ould Taya, in order to normalize relations with Iran as an economic and political alternative and after the declaration of Present Mauritanian Presidnet Mohamed Ould Abdul Aziz to sever the relations with Israel and expulsion of Israeli Ambassador from Nouakchott, the former Iranian Foreign Minister visited Mauritania and pledged to finance the Cancer Patients Hospital Project which Israel had pledged. Some of the labors of the Centre say that Manouchehr Mottaki stated before the labors in the hospital during his visit to Nouakchott that we are coming but Iran didn’t fulfill the pledge. In 2010 the Mauritania President visited Tehran and during the visit it was concluded an accord, Iran in accordance with that supplied tens of transportation buses to the official public transportation company in Mauritania and also pledged to provide 200 small vehicles but it was clear before completing one year that the buses were old model and inappropriate to be used, which was going to lead the company to bankruptcy if there had no intervention from the government and the additional finances and the small vehicles were not provided.
At the cultural level Iranian embassy in Nouakchott tried to get permission to open the Persian Language section and its literature in Nouakchott university as a cultural passage to penetrate into the education system and the embassy declared to provide five scholarships yearly to the Mauritanian students in the political science fields, but the authorities until now didn’t allow to open the aforesaid section in Nouakchott university even after efforts from Iran.
The Iranian embassy linked with many Mauritanian politicians whose contact with Shia belief and embracing its ideology was exposed by the Mauritanian medias, but they resist that their relations with Iran are only confined to political support in the circle of alliance to support the Syrian regime and Tehran under the slogan of “ Alliance of Resistance” and it is known that, these people hide their enmity towards many Arab countries especially towards the Arab gulf Countries which are considered as enemy of Iran but at the popular level there is consensus to reject Iran and to be cautious about its efforts to dismantle the Mauritanian society through efforts by spreading Shia belief.
By Mohamed Mahmoud
Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre