Eyes on Africa; Netanyahu tours Africa, aims strong toehold there

Alwaght- The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in 30 years on Monday July 4 made a 5-day visit to the East African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.

The trip aims at boosting Tel Aviv’s political, economic, and security influence in Africa.

During the trip, the Israeli PM in a meeting in Kenya met with leaders of seven African states including Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The final statement of the meeting described the gathering as onset of a new period in the Israeli relations with the African countries.

During the visit, there was an emphasis on stepping up counterterrorism efforts between Tel Aviv and the Africans, as the two sides discussed making the Israeli regime an observer member of the African Union. They insisted that observer membership could give the Israeli presence in Africa a legitimacy, and so open up the ways for cooperation. During the meeting, Netanyahu claimed that Tel Aviv was the best ally the African countries could have in the present conditions.

Accordingly, it must be noted that the role of this trip in expanding Israeli influence in Africa is significant from a couple of aspects:

1. The trip of the hard-line Israeli PM to the East African region, which is known as the African Great Lakes region, in its kind is a turning point in the strategic Israeli policy in Africa. Before starting his visit, Benjamin Netanyahu had, during an address of the Knesset— or the parliament— had described the visit as a major effort of the regime for a strong return to Africa. The PM added that it was so important for the Israeli trade companies as well as the African countries’. During the meeting, the Israeli government agreed to open offices in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in a bid to transfer Israeli technologies and industrial experiences to these African states.

Making the visit while having a $13 billion trade and economic aid package, Netanyahu, as he announced on July 5 in Kenya, sought getting observer membership of Tel Aviv in the African Union in a bid to prompt strategic changes in Israeli place in the International scene and so reduce its global opponents, according to Kenyan newspapers.

2. The trip is taking place in a specific time frame while West Asian region is grappling with a variety of complicated crises. The crisis in the Muslim world which is a product of American and Israeli projects and takes place with complicity of the Saudi Arabian regime and rise of takfiri terrorism on the one hand and deep gaps in the Arab world on the other hand provide Tel Aviv with a rare opportunity to expand its influence plans in the best African regions in terms of natural resources and wealth.

Meanwhile, Egypt is exposed more than other African and Arab countries to threats. During the several decades since signing the Camp David Accords with the Israeli regime, Egypt lost, to a large extent, its potentials for playing an effective role in both Arab world and the African Union. It is for this reason that a couple of days after return of Netanyahu from his Africa tour, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with him in Tel Aviv. In fact, Cairo is stunned to know about the achievements and goals of Netanyahu’s Africa trip. Participation of Israeli companies in construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would make Egypt receive the biggest damage from the Israeli regime’s toehold in the African Great Lakes region. In fact, this Israeli move is a kind of disarming Egypt.

3. The Israeli regime is looking forward to seize control of the lifeblood in the region through dominating the water resources in coasts of Horn of Africa at the tip of the Indian Ocean, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the Red Sea, Suez Canal, as well as major waterways and economic hubs leading to Gulf of Aqaba in south of the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition to guaranteeing its security, Tel Aviv wants to prepare the ground for transfer of goods and energy sources like oil.

On the other side, the world’s longest river, namely Nile River, passes across Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan, and Egypt and ends in the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile River is an outcome of both Blue Nile and White Nile rivers uniting in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The origin of White Nile River is Lake Victor which passes through Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan, and the origin of White Nile River is Lake Tana in Ethiopia. Therefore, the three target countries for Netanyahu’s trip plan, namely Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia are located in this region. 68 years ago, David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders of the Israeli regime, set in motion the Zionist Nile-to-Euphrates calumny by stating that the people of Israel must expand their territory from Nile to Euphrates. Since then, some developments like split of Sudan, the Muslim world’s largest country, and establishment of South Sudan, rifts between Sudan and Egypt over Nile water shares, the political chaotic conditions in the countries of Nile River especially the war between Sudan and South Sudan, the domestic insecurity in these countries, and other factors have prepared a proper ground for implementation of Israeli plans in North and Horn of Africa.

4. Though establishing strategic relations with the countries of African Great Lakes region, Tel Aviv seeks sending Israeli arms and goods that were recently boycotted by the EU to this region. Although due to Western colonization it is suffering from poverty and famine, Africa is standing on a huge fortune of natural resources. Africa is a source of many of precious stones like diamond and rare and strategic granites like Uranium, as well as such metals as copper and gold.

On the other side, the African oil market is rich and there are newly-discovered oil reserves located in Horn of Africa and around Nile River and its origins. In addition to Sudan and South Sudan which are major oil centers, in East African countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda new oilfields were recently discovered. The oil reserve of only one field in Kenya known as Lokichar Oilfield is estimated to be 600 million barrels. These three African countries are eyeing constructing 1,300-kilometer pipeline to send oil to Kenyan coasts and then export it to the global markets. Many Israeli companies are active in mine and oil sectors in African countries.

Therefore, it appears that Tel Aviv has established its self-defense strategy in East Africa. By doing so, the Israeli regime seeks getting toehold in the African continent. Boaz Bismuth, a former Israeli diplomat, has described Netanyahu’s visit of African countries as unprecedented boom in ties of Tel Aviv with Africa. He stated that the trip was of great significance as Africa contained 54 states, especially that each of these countries holds a vote right in the UN.

The former Israeli diplomat said that relations with the African countries were an important backup for Tel Aviv at the international organizations and so could provide it with strategic security cover against the hostile countries, as at the same time would result in enhanced economic bonds with Africa. Entry of Tanzania to the Israeli area of influence beside other countries of the region could be highly risky to Tel Aviv because in addition to having a majority of Muslim population, it has always tried to stand by Palestine in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

By Alwaght