From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Fri May 07 2010 - 08:13:55 EDT
6 - 12 May 2010
Issue No. 997Meddling in Africa
Israel is forging ever-closer ties in the Arab hinterland in Africa,
virtually unopposed, writes *Saleh Al-Naami*
All signs indicate that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman remains
keen on implementing his ministry's strategic priorities as set out from his
first day in office, including pouncing on Africa. Lieberman's interest in
Africa revives former prime minister Golda Meir's outlook in the 1950s and
1960s. She visited most non-Arab states on the continent. Israel's current
intensified moves mainly target the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya,
Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.
While the Israeli Foreign Ministry is in theory in charge of Israel's
policies in Africa, there is no doubt that the party that is playing the
greater role is Mossad. It maintains active agents in many African capitals,
as recently revealed by *Haaretz* newspaper. Assigning Mossad this task is
directly connected to this organisation's routine attempts to undermine the
national security of Arab states in Africa and on the Red Sea.
Indeed, there is a direct relationship between recent efforts to nurture
Israeli-Ethiopian ties and threats by the government of Addis Ababa to
re-channel Nile waters to the disadvantage of Egypt and Sudan. According to
Israeli sources, the relationship between Tel Aviv and Addis Ababa went to a
new level when Tel Aviv showed dexterity in abandoning its former ally
Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki for the sake of closer ties with the
Ethiopian regime. Israel and Ethiopia have signed many arms deals and are
involved in training programmes whereby Israeli military units train
Some make a connection between Tel Aviv's cooperation with Addis Ababa and
Ethiopia's victories over Eritrea in battles that took place two years ago.
Meanwhile, no one expects Israel or Ethiopia to reveal what may have been
planned against Egypt behind the scenes. Lieberman once threatened to
destroy Egypt's High Dam. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz insists
that Egypt is an "enemy state" despite the 1978 Egypt- Israel Peace Treaty.
It is widely known that Israel uses its relations with states and political
movements that are hostile to Arab countries to undermine Arab national
security, and distract influential Arab states with secondary issues. This
way, the role of these Arab states in the Arab-Israeli conflict is
curtailed. In a recent and unprecedented admission, Shlomo Nakdimon, adviser
to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, stated that Israel had
manoeuvred since the 1950s to strengthen ties with the Kurds in northern
Iraq in support of their separatist agenda to undermine the Iraqi regime and
influence the priorities of Baghdad. For the same reasons, Israel drew
closer to the Shah of Iran as well as the military leadership and
secularists in Turkey because of their animosity towards the Arab world.
Israel also built an alliance with the Maronites in Lebanon to target
Palestinian resistance and Lebanese nationalist movements.
In his book *Periphery Alliance*, Nakdimon noted that the same reasoning was
behind Israel's move to nurture ties with the separatist Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM), whereby they supplied the movement with arms and
training. It is also no secret that Tel Aviv encouraged Jewish lobby groups
in the US to draft agendas for expatriate Coptic groups, which are then
presented to the US Congress and the US administration, specifically to
include claims of discrimination and oppression of Copts.
Regarding Ethiopia, there was a time when Eritrean President Afewerki had
strong ties with Israel, which had convinced him to undermine the security
of Yemen by occupying Yemeni islands in the Red Sea using superior weapons
supplied by Israel. But since that time Tel Aviv has felt it more beneficial
to nurture relations with Ethiopia -- Afewerki's arch nemesis -- and did not
hesitate in cutting the Eritrean president off. In particular, Tel Aviv
wants to sidetrack Egypt since it continues to be the major challenge for
Israel's regional strategy, as stated by Israel's deputy prime minister and
minister of strategic threats in Netanyahu's government, General Moshe
Yalon, who previously served as chief of staff of the armed forces.
Israel's interest in the Horn of Africa is not limited to meddling in
Egypt's national security by interfering with Cairo's quota of Nile waters,
but also serves higher Israeli goals. The Horn of Africa overlooks the
straits of Bab Al-Mandab, through which passes 20 per cent of Israel's
foreign trade. The growing power of Al-Qaeda and other groups associated
with it in the region, especially in Somalia, has encouraged Israel to
establish a presence in the area. As a close ally of Israel, Ethiopia's
interference in Somali affairs has facilitated Israel's job. There are
indications that Israel has used Ethiopia's occupation of large areas in
Somalia to give Mossad a foothold.
Zvi Bar expressed a widely held fear in Tel Aviv when expressing concern
about the rise of Islam in Africa since it would lead to an anti-Israel
atmosphere on the continent. Some analysts believe this is why Israel is
redoubling its efforts in the region. When Israel approaches regimes that
are in power struggles with Muslim opponents, they encourage them to rely on
Israel's experience in confronting Islamic movements. Hence, Israel has
exerted much effort in drawing closer to Nigeria, and signed an agreement to
supply it with military equipment.
There is also a long list of Israeli interests in Africa that it wants to
protect, including controlling oil mining on the continent, whereby Israeli
companies -- under European cover -- are in charge of oil exploration in
several African countries. Israel has taken great interest in Africa's oil
reserves after UN reports confirmed them at more than 80 billion barrels.
Israel also mines natural resources in African states, including uranium. In
his book *With the Power of Science*, Israeli nuclear scientist Ariel
Bakhrakh revealed that Israel had stolen uranium from African states under
the pretence that its scientists were carrying out geological tests.
Third, Africa is a vast market for Israeli products, especially military
products. Also, Israel monopolises many industrial and economic sectors in a
number of Africa states. For example, Israeli companies have a strong hold
on food products in Ethiopia. Finally, producing and exporting diamonds is a
major source of revenue for Israel, and these diamonds are mined in Africa.
Historically, Israel has used several tools to strengthen ties with African
countries, at times by exporting technical know-how in agriculture and at
others through military training, discreetly providing medical treatment for
African rulers at Israeli hospitals, and hosting African students at Israeli
universities. Israel has not hesitated to participate in military coups in
some African states. As confirmed by Yossi Melman, an Israeli commentator on
intelligence issues, it is certain that Mossad assisted in coups that took
place in Uganda and Zanzibar.
What is remarkable is that Israel is moving freely on the African continent
without any Arab reaction. Arab states are failing to utilise the many tools
they possess to not only stop Israel's manoeuvres, but more importantly to
halt Tel Aviv's efforts to undermine Arab national security.
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