Mauritania has ratified its friendship, cooperation and good neighbourhood agreement with Spain, an agreement that came days after the country announced the discovery of large gas reserves off its coast. The field is reportedly capable of producing up to 10 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year and the resources are estimated to have a capacity of around 15 trillion cubic feet of gas.
This ratification by the Mauritanian government is a sign of the distancing that Nouakchott has decided to undertake with respect to Algiers, at a time when Spain and Algeria are going through a major diplomatic crisis after the Spanish government officially supported Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The latest gas discovery in Mauritania highlights the importance of the African country for Europe in its search for gas alternatives to replace Russian gas. Various analysts point out that the discovery of this large gas field could lead to the extension of a new gas pipeline from Mauritania to Europe, via Morocco and Spain.
Along these lines, Spain continues to try to build bridges with other gas-rich countries to help reduce its dependence on Algerian gas, which explains its recent rapprochement with Qatar - the fourth country in terms of gas reserves worldwide - and now also with Mauritania.
On the other hand, according to Moncloa, Mauritania is for Spain "a partner of reference" because of its "excellent cooperation in migratory matters and its strategic situation, which allows it to be a key ally in security and the fight against terrorism".
In addition to this, Sánchez stressed that the Mauritanian country is for Spain "a fundamental partner in security and defence, and a point of reference for stability in the Maghreb and Sahel regions". The President also highlighted the many advances that the country has made in recent years, especially in the "consolidation of democracy".
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, also applauded Mauritania for its decision to openly condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly, a decision that has brought the African country closer to cooperation with NATO member countries. In this respect, Mauritania plays an important role in cooperation with the Atlantic Alliance after it became a NATO partner in 1995, when it joined the Mediterranean Dialogue. Moreover, Mauritania is the only country in the region that currently maintains NATO partner status, and is therefore in a privileged position in this respect.
Thus, from 28 to 30 June, the NATO Summit in Madrid will seek to deepen cooperation between Mauritania and the Atlantic Alliance, a country that is considered a key player in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. Since 2011, Mauritania has been involved in five security and defence initiatives with NATO. Among these initiatives is a project led by Mauritania and France, with the support of Canada, which is said to have established a national joint crisis management coordination centre in Nouakchott.