One of the most important diplomatic stories in the world continues to unfold, as Israel’s outreach to Africa bears new fruit. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Israel is continuing to make inroads into Africa, as Chad – which has suddenly found itself on the front lines in the battle against Islamic extremists – is expected to be the next majority-Muslim African state to reestablish ties with Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Guinea and Israel announced the reestablishment of ties on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who visited four East African countries earlier this month – said that another African country would soon follow suit.[..]
The Post reported earlier this month that delegations from Chad and Mali, both in sub-Saharan Africa, were in Israel recently. Chad, like Guinea, is a member of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.[..]
Meanwhile, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé is scheduled to arrive for a visit next month, as Netanyahu is interested in going to West Africa in the near future, and holding a summit with countries there similar to the one he held this month in Uganda with the leaders of seven East African countries. Gnassingbé is considered a candidate to be a driving force behind putting together such a summit.
As we have been covering, Israel’s rapprochement with a growing list of African nations is driven by several factors: the appeal of Israeli water technology, Israel’s need for new friends in international fora (especially the UN) to counterbalance the increasingly hostile Europeans, and the growth of Christianity in Africa. But perhaps the biggest of all is the increased threat of jihadi terror in Africa, which makes Israel’s security expertise appealing. This seems to have factored significantly into the decision of several majority-Muslim states to warm to Israel.
The Palestinians are not happy, and they are pushing back:
But while African countries seem to be warming up to Israel, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki announced this week that the PA and Sudan were coordinating to “restrain Israeli movements” in Africa.
“President Mahmoud Abbas and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir, discussed developing a strategy for the African continent and coordinating to restrain Israeli attempts to make a breakthrough in Africa,” the PA foreign minister told a group of journalists in Khartoum.
On Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, to deliver an address to the 27th Summit of the African Union. He continued on to Khartoum, where he signed a number of agreements with Sudan, one of which establishes a mechanism for political consultations between the PA and Sudanese governments.
Abbas’s trip to Rwanda came just two weeks after Netanyahu visited the country as part of a tour of Africa, the first by an Israeli prime minister in nearly 30 years, and is understood to be an attempt by the PA to slow the development of ties between Israel and African countries.
Abbas will not have trouble getting meetings, but he likely will have trouble reestablishing the taboo on Israel among African nations. For potential African partners, Israel is starting look like more of a “normal country,” no longer the “Jew among Nations.” This seems to be the result of a convergence of interests:
In addition, one senior official said, Israel’s close security ties with Egypt and Jordan – as well as well-known but under-the-radar contacts with Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries – have convinced many African countries that they no longer have to be worried about Arab pressure against developing ties with Israel, since the Arab states themselves have ties with Israel.
Both Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said as much publicly during press conferences with Netanyahu when he visited their countries earlier this month.
It is obvious, the official said, that Israel and many of the African states now share a common enemy in Islamist extremism, and the African states are interested in benefiting from Israel’s experience dealing with it.
Keep your eyes out for more smart diplomacy from Bibi. Israel is thinking outside the box and slowly but surely reordering the world map in its favor.