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Israel’s Africa Agenda Stumbles as AU Pushes Back

Israeli diplomat removed from AU summit: Lately, Israel has been on a “charm offensive” in Africa. It seems only fair that Israel should not lag behind when all major powers have started to scramble for Africa. However, geopolitics is fraught with uncertainties and Israel’s outreach campaign in Africa is now experiencing pushback.

As Israel tries its best to expand its footprint in Africa, it appears that its adversaries have become wary. The consequence of this is a major diplomatic row between Israel and the African Union, which is set to squander Israel’s progress in its Africa “charm offensive”.

Israeli diplomat removed from AU summit

At a time, when Israel has been making overtures to African countries to make new inroads into the continent, a senior Israeli diplomat was recently removed from the African Union’s annual summit in Ethiopia as a dispute over Israel’s accreditation to the bloc escalated. In a major embarrassment for Israel, a video posted on social media showed security personnel walking Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li out of the auditorium during the opening ceremony of the summit in Addis Ababa.

Now, as the AU and Israel lock horns over the incident, it is set to trigger a full-scale diplomatic conflict between Israel and the African Union.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

As per the Israeli foreign ministry,  Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union hall, “despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges”. In this regard, Israel has condemned the African Union’s action and specifically blamed Algeria and South Africa, two key nations in the 55-country bloc.

Israel’s ministry spokesperson, Lior Hayat accused Iran, its arch-enemy, of orchestrating the expulsion of the senior Israeli diplomat, saying that the African Union has been taken hostage by “extremist countries, such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran”.

On the contrary, Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for the African Union’s chairman, said the Israeli diplomat was removed because she was not the duly accredited Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia – the official who was expected.

Previously, we at TFI explained how the North African region is witnessing a geo-strategic upheaval as Israel and Iran, two arch rivals try to make inroads into the region, particularly involving Morocco, Algeria & Mauritania.

Only a few weeks ago, Iran tried to encircle Morocco by joining hands with its adversary Algeria when its Foreign Minister visited Mauritania. Around the same time, Israel also made attempts to woo Chad and Sudan as leaders from these countries separately met and hinted at deepening ties.

As the geopolitical struggle for influence plays out in the region, it appears that Israel’s attempts to enhance its footprints in Africa is now experiencing strong pushback at the behest of Iran & Algeria. Who knows? Israel’s embarrassment in the AU summit may be just one result of this larger geopolitical game.

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