Offshore Energy Richness and America’s Mauritania Frenemy

21.09.2018 Author: Phil Butler

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News that a prominent anti-slavery activist named Biram Dah Abeid was arrested in Mauritania coincides with the revelation oil giant Shell is to begin exploring oil and gas offshore the West African country. The country with one of the worst human rights records is also a poker chip in the overall game of exploitation by big energy. Here’s a bit of intelligence on yet another resource-rich African nation suffering from new age colonialism

It’s almost unbelievable, but Slavery is still actively practiced in Mauritania despite promises by the totalitarian government of Mohamad Ould Abdel Aziz. But since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and Mauritania’s supporting America in the dubious “War on Terror,” the U.S. has found it easier to turn a blind eye to Abdel Aziz’s record in office. In a piece of bitter irony here, the Mauritanian strongman served as Chairman of the African Union from 2014 to 2015. As for the amazing hypocrisy of the U.S., this US State Department 2010 Human Rights Report, outlining the miserable rights record of Mauritania, which reads in part:

“Government efforts were not sufficient to enforce the antislavery law. No cases have been successfully prosecuted under the antislavery law despite the fact that ‘de facto’ slavery exists in Mauritania.”

Furthermore, a 2017 statement before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Michael J. Dodman, who was then the nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania, not only pledged support for the Abdel Aziz regime but mentions the “sizeable offshore natural gas resources by an American firm.” This brings the Shell Oil offshore deal sharply into focus.

Looking at Dodman, his background makes him perfect for the Mauritania position since he cut his bureaucratic teeth in Iraq and later in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment at the United States Department of State. This WikiLeaks cable made secret by Dodman back in 2008, when he was advising in Iraq includes Shell and other companies bidding for the newly freed up oil fields there.

It’s almost as if the Department of State had trained and deployed a regime change team to leverage energy all across the Middle East and North Africa. Dodman also played a role in stopping the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline, also known as the Peace pipeline, when he threatened Pakistan with sanctions if they did not stop the project back in 2013. Dodman’s record in Eastern Europe bears mentioning here too. The career diplomat played a role in negotiating the missile defense installation in the Czech Republic. He was also a policy council member for the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, one of the funding foundations the CIA and the State Department use to train operatives for in-country assignments. Another hint at Dodman’s intelligence community role comes in the form of another WikiLeaks document telling of his role in a US-EU personal data sharing agreement from 2010. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the original AP story citing the diplomat saying:

“This is a very, very strong agreement; we are very proud of it. It is very important to the security of the United States and Europe.”

For the larger picture on Mauritania and western intentions news from BP Mauritania and Senegal tells of a commercial atmosphere in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, that is “buzzing..” Thinking back to a leaked plan by the CIA to destabilize Mauritania’s government some years back, the pattern of U.S. intervention where energy reserves are resurfaced over and over again. Added to this the fact the United States has effectively isolated Russian and Iranian energy exports to Europe and the world, news of massive LNG projects rebounding makes total sense. And Mauritania’s and the rest of West Africa’s deep-water energy assets play a bit role there. Shell’s British rival BP and its partner Kosmos Energy are set to decide on the development of the Tortue field off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania soon, so floating LNG production (FLNG) ships to process offshore natural gas from the fields are already being discussed. Senegalese President Macky Sall and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz oversaw the signing of the accord by their energy ministers to jointly develop their offshore assets back in February, so the stage is set.

The Tortue field is estimated to contain more than 15 trillion cubic feet of discovered gas resources, so it’s certain America’s interest in the country will grow accordingly. And for those concerned over human rights abuses and slavery, the 50 trillion cubic feet of gas estimated for all of Mauritania-Senegal will surely delay liberalization. I find this ironic and sad considering the globalist doctrine is based largely on freedom and humanitarianism.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”