Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

A Modern Day Scramble for Africa

January 22, 2013 2:30 am 1 comment

Children from the Natan School, which is receiving assistance from the Jewish Heart for Africa program. Photo: Jewish Heart for Africa.

The African continent is becoming the latest battlefield in the existential war between Iran and Israel. It would appear that both countries are engaged in a modern day scramble for a piece of Africa. This has nothing to do with the colonial aspirations of times past but rather it is a battle for the hearts and minds of the people and in the case of Iran, gaining a foothold on the African continent. The methodologies adopted by the two countries are somewhat different.

After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, relations between Israel and most African countries soured, and it was only in the 1980’s and 1990’s that Israel returned to Africa. There are strategic interests – countries situated in the horn of Africa have geographical significance not just for airspace but for their close proximity to Arab countries. Israel understands that Africa is a new frontier ripe for cooperation and has embarked on targeted diplomatic missions and has made great strides through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MASHAV programme which has brought much needed agricultural and medical assistance to impoverished communities and countries across the continent. Examples of this include water purification projects, assisting in circumcision rituals in countries such as Swaziland which has significantly reduced HIV infection rates, as well as numerous agricultural projects. It was part of Zionism’s founding father, Theodore Herzl’s dream to help the oppressed in Africa.

Israel is helping to cure and feed Africa but has also extended her long military arm in the event of threats to her national security. This was evident in the alleged bombing of a munitions facility in the Sudan by Israeli F-15 jets in 2012. Israel has remained silent about the issue.

Enter Iran. The growing trail of bullets, missiles and other ammunition is leading back to Tehran. Iran not only sponsors its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah, who have proven their intentions time and again with terror attacks on Israel and Jewish institutions around the world, Iran has become one of the primary sponsors of ammunition and firearms in some of Africa’s most violent conflicts zones, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Niger, Sudan and others. Iran is not only sponsoring Al Qaeda cells on the continent but rebel and guerrilla groups as well. There are well traveled munitions that cross the continent and somehow find their way back into Gaza and Iraq. It is no coincidence that Iran is carefully setting up their smuggling routes to their proxies in the Gaza Strip. They openly state their intentions to destroy the State of Israel, and they back it up it up with an aggressive nuclear program. If anyone still believes that Iranian nukes will be used for domestic power issues, then they are imbibing something hallucinogenic!

Iran is playing an interesting game of chess, setting up players that are traditionally anti-West, perhaps to bolster its support in the face of growing sanctions. What better way than to court members of the African Union and Non-Aligned Movement, most of whom are African countries?

It is not just instruments of war that Iran is supplying to the continent, it is oil reserves as well. Oil is a powerful tool for helping to curry favor and so is mutual anti-western sentiment. One case in point is South Africa. South Africa faces growing international scrutiny from the international community for its business dealings with Tehran. An example of this would be South African cellular giant, MTN, owning 49% of Irancell. It is ironic that a country that is not only a signatory to the international non-proliferation treaty and defeated its heinous Apartheid regime would continue to build relations with a regime that both parades its missiles through the streets of its capital and states its intention to “wipe cancerous Israel off the map”. Erm, how exactly do they think Iran aims to accomplish this? There has been no condemnation from South Africa for the profound racism in the form of Holocaust denial and anti-Zionist rhetoric coming from Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his ministers. Even more baffling is South Africa’s increasing hostility towards Israel. This has severely impaired any ability for the African state to broker any kind of lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Inviting Iranian ministers and Hamas leaders has also thrown a large spanner in any kind of peace works.

This modern day scramble for Africa between two hostile countries has shown that in some cases, the best intentions are utilized by countries that see the bigger picture and the benefits of working with countries like Israel who want to help. For others, anti- Western sentiment blinds them to reality and makes them vulnerable pawns in Iran’s stand off against the west.

1 Comment

  • african countries are not democracies, or even benign dictatorships. they are run, primarily, for the enrichment of their ruling groups. even south africa is saddled with the anc, which does not act for the benefit of the people.

    this puts israel at a serious disadvantage, because it cannot compete with iran’s petrodollars, or immoral arms dealings. water projects and circumcision expertise aren’t on the same level.

    iran has more to offer the average tyrant.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →