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The Federal Islamic Republics of Nouakchott and Dependencies is a country in what was once Western Mauritania. It is a weak and divided country, as it is one of the few in the world to hold slaves today - and very extensively at that- and possess no modern weaponry, having destroyed it all in fighting in the 1980s.
In 1076, Moorish Islamic warrior monks attacked and conquered the ancient Ghana Empire. Over the next 500 years, Arabs overcame fierce resistance from the local population and came to dominate Mauritania. The Mauritanian Thirty-Year War (1644–74) was the unsuccessful final effort to repel the Yemeni Maqil Arab invaders.
Imperial France gradually absorbed the territories of Mauritania from the Senegal river area and upwards, starting in the late 19th century. the last independent emirate was finally defeated militarily in 1912, and incorporated into the territory of Mauritania, which had been drawn up in 1904. Mauritania would subsequently form part of French West Africa, from 1920 onwards. As the country gained independence in 1960, the capital city Nouakchott was founded at the site of a small colonial village, the Ksar, while 90% of the population was still nomadic.
The great Sahel droughts of the early 1970s caused massive problems in Mauritania. Modern day slavery was, and is, still a common practice in this area. According to some estimates, up to 600,000 Mauritanians, or 20% of the population, were still enslaved at the time. Mauritania, along with Morocco, annexed the territory of Western Sahara in 1976, with Mauritania taking the lower one-third at the request of former imperial power Spain. After several military losses to the Polisario – heavily armed and supported by Algeria, the local hegemon and rival to Morocco – Mauritania retreated in 1979, and its claims were taken over by Morocco.
After independence, President Moktar Ould Daddah, originally installed by the French, formalized Mauritania into a one-party state in 1964 with a new constitution, which set up an authoritarian presidential regime. The President justified this decision on the grounds that he considered Mauritania unready for western-style multi-party democracy. Under this one-party constitution, Daddah was reelected in uncontested elections in 1966, 1971 and 1976. He was ousted in a bloodless coup on 10 July 1978, after bringing the country to near-collapse through a disastrous war to annex the southern part of Western Sahara, in an attempt to create a “Greater Mauritania”.
Col. Mustafa Ould Salek's CMRN junta proved incapable of either establishing a strong base of power or extracting the country from its destabilizing conflict with the Sahrawi resistance movement, the Polisario Front. It quickly fell to be replaced by another military government, the CMSN. The energetic Col. Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidallah soon emerged as its main strongman, and by giving up all claims to Western Sahara, he found peace with the Polisario and improved relations with its main backer, Algeria – but relations with the other party to the conflict, Morocco, and its European ally France, deteriorated. Instability continued, and Haidallah's ambitious reform attempts foundered. Not only was his regime plagued by attempted coups and intrigue within the military establishment, but it also became increasingly contested because of his harsh and uncompromising line against opponents and political and military dissidents, of whom many were jailed and some were executed.
The government of Mauritania, at Doomsday, looked to be on the edge of collapse due to its own internal instability. This was soon proven correct, as within days after the event, the Prime Minister, Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, backed by the Army, overthrew the government.
The seizure of power by Maaouya would start a cycle of military coups. The next two years alone would see five of them, each weakening the country more and more, as the military destroyed its own equipment fighting itself. By 1986, the military had destroyed all of its more modern weaponry, leaving them with only their rifles - and even they were running low on ammunition.
With outside contact, except with Senegal to the south and the rebels in Western Sahara to the north, which could not help them at all, essentially gone, the country quickly devolved into disorder, to go along with the coups. Food imports that had been relied on to feed the people disappeared as well, leading the ruling Army officers to forcefully re-institute slavery as an official policy in order to ensure survival. These slaves would largely come from Haratin class, as had always been the case, as well as their political opponents. This meant that the vast majority of Haratin who had not either been slaves, or essentially slaves, in 1983, were forced into servitude. To say that they were treated harshly would be an understatement - the government has continually stated since they came to power in 1987 that punishments worse than in the Americas a century before commonly occurred - in a few reported cases for example, as a punishment for running away slaves had parts of their bodies cut off and roasted before being forced to eat it by their slave master. Executions of the slaves were similarly barbaric, with the most common method being to chain them to rocks in the harbor at low tide, and then let them slowly drown as the tide came in.
As a result of the coups, the government lost control over much of its former territory, leaving it with only the more heavily populated coastal regions - the inland territories were lost to them, regained by the nomads who had always lived there. Small areas northeast of the remaining territory were also taken over by the País del Oro, a joint government of the surviving Spanish government and the POLISARIO that governed much of the former Western Sahara, for its iron mines. Areas in the north were also seized by the POLISARIO breakaway government, the IRSA, as well. In recent years, Mali has taken nominal authority of the abandoned desert regions too.
That the slave revolt in July of 1987 came as a surprise to the military dictatorship is considered to be a extreme failure on their part today, for there was many signs that it was coming, long before-hand. They simply did not believe the Haratin capable of such a feat, even if many of the Haratin slaves had once known the taste of freedom. The revolt on July 11th of that year quickly overwhelmed the military government, as by this time their guns had gone silent, due to a lack of ammunition.
Much like in Haiti more than a century and a half previously, the rebel slaves took control readily enough, but with little knowledge of how to govern the country other than what the Beidane had done to them. Their leader, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir - one of the few to have avoided slavery due to his connections - was thus forced to enslave much of the Beidane class that had enslaved them in the first place. And since the regime had come to power with a revolt, there was no way that another by the Beidane would succeed, either. Messaoud Ould Boulkheir would be named dictator of the country, now renamed the Federal Islamic Republics of Nouakchott and Dependencies, with the title of President-Governor. It was also announced that they would support the IRSA rebels against the "Slaving Spanish" regime to its north, though given the quasi-medieval equipment of the military this has not amounted to anything, especially with the need to garrison Nouakchott well to keep the slaves in line.
With this regime in power, it is obvious why they were not invited to join the forerunner of the West African Union in 1989, and, indeed, have been ignored by its members almost completely since, though Senegal occasionally calls for them to invade and overthrow the regime.
As one would expect from the regime, it is severely autocratic. All decisions are made by the President-Governor, who has long ruled the country with an iron fist. Sham elections periodically held give him a "mandate" to rule. Outside observers have noted a very haggard look on Boulkheir in recent years - it is expected that he will not last many more, and that chaos will truly arrive in the country then.
Formally, the government is a union of two republics - the city of Nouakchott itself, and then the rest of the territory under its control, as "Dependencies." However, like many things in Nouakchott, this has no real meaning in reality, and never has. Another quirk is that they still use the old flag and coat of arms of Mauritania, despite the change of name.
Given the massive numbers of slaves in the "Republic," it should not be too surprising that they maintain a large army for the size of their population. Even though it is only equipped with medieval-style weaponry - generally made out of the little iron the government manages to mine with its slaves - it could still be a force to be reckoned with in the right context.
Almost all aspects of the economy are controlled by the government. Largely, this consists of a few iron mines that are barely functioning, a half-destroyed port, and a pair of forges used to made weapons for the army. What farms are left in the country barely produce enough to feed most of the people - small food donations from the West African Union and fish from the ocean make up the shortfall.
To say that Nouakchott is a pariah internationally is an understatement. Virtually every member of the LoN has condemned them, and many non-members have done so as well. This includes a complete embargo on them, except for enough food stocks to make sure most people do not starve.
Indeed, a long running topic in both the West African Union, and the Western Sahara - now the Spanish Republic - is some sort of invasion of the region, to overthrow the regime.