African Magazine Claims Ulterior Motives in Israel’s Africa Ties

A British-published African weekly news magazine has taken a swipe at Israel’s renewed ties with Africa. Articles in the July 9 African Concord claim that Israel has pledged to develop African agricultural and health programs with the ulterior motive of selling arms, building African armies and establishing an intelligence network to pass information to South Africa.

The magazine also reports that Israel continued active military and business engagements in Africa during the years of discontinued official diplomatic relations. Indeed, Israeli media have reported on ongoing business ties.

The magazine was one of several Black publications made available for the press at the convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People here.

Concord correspondent Victor Ndovi describes Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir’s week-long June visit to four African nations as an “African offensive,” and claims it was in response “to growing domestic political and economic pressures from the United States.”

Shamir visited Togo, Cameroon, Liberia and Ivory Coast, countries which over the past four years resumed diplomatic relations with Israel that were broken off during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

MONEY AND MILITARY

Ndovi writes that as Israel itself cannot afford to offer monetary aid to Africa, which Shamir admitted during his visit, Israel seeks financial backing, mostly from the U.S.

A “key aspect” of Israel’s agreements with the African nations, Ndovi writes, is military. Thus, Shamir promised Togo military training assistance that would include the training and arming the presidential guard. In Cameroon, where the government of President Paul Biya defeated a coup in 1984, “Shamir was greeted by a presidential guard displaying Israeli-supplied weapons and wearing uniforms manufactured in Israel,” Ndovi writes.

Although he notes that Israel claims its military programs in Africa “are not designed to intervene in domestic affairs but buttress domestic security and to combat ‘international terrorism,’” he reports that “in Kenya, an Israeli commando unit based at Machakos helped to foil the abortive air force-led anti-Moi government coup in 1982.”

He describes Israel’s military capability as “attractive” to the “fragile and unstable governments and the uncertain loyalties” of many African countries. Ndovi lists the nations of Benin, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Malawi (which never broke relations with Israel), Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania and Zaire (which resumed ties with Israel) as receiving Israeli help for their military training and security agencies.

The writer also reports that the Israeli secret service Mossad has provided several African nations, including Ghana, Uganda and Zaire, with sophisticated intelligence training. He also claims the Mossad has recruited local agents “in every African country with Israeli assistance,” and that Israel has passed on “this invaluable assistance” to South Africa.

Ndovi cites a U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding of 1981 that allowed Israel for the first time to sell weapons to Africa that were paid for by the U.S. Thus, he says, through financial aid ostensibly for Israel, the U.S. uses these funds “to curry influence by proxy with African states.”

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