Where does Israel fit in in the new Middle East/Africa order?
In this episode of “Our Middle East,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dan Diker hosts JCPA general manager Dr. Yechiel Leiter and Shemsu Edris Mohammed, president and secretary of the Ethiopian Diaspora Association.
They recently attended the JCPA’s international conference in Jerusalem along with delegates from 30 African and Arab states to discuss solutions for national, water and food security issues and counterterrorism, aiming to build bridges between Israel, the Abraham Accords states and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa in a time of shifting alliances.
The conference included panels and field tours that highlighted Israeli high-tech advancements that address practical issues of development and security. Leiter pointed out that it has been said that “governments deal with the immediate, think tanks deal with the important,” referencing the conference’s aims and the role of the Jerusalem Center as a research-powered diplomacy institute.
Changing region and shifting alliances
Mohammed said that the rapidly changing regional situation brings new opportunities for broader alliances.
“There’s a tectonic shift with America stepping back and Russia and China stepping up. Regionalism is now broader than who is at your border. It now includes a larger circle of nations and friends. We’re more dependent on one another. That’s where Israel comes into play,” Leiter added.
Shared threats, shared interests
Mohammed noted of growing Gulf and African ties that the “pain of terrorism brought us together. Israel has dealt with it professionally.”
Leiter added that Iran and its proxies threaten the security of the entire Red Sea region.
Diker pointed to the growing threat of extremist Islamist groups in sub-Saharan Africa, including many connected to Hezbollah and Hamas, many funded by the Iranian IRGC, despite the terrorist groups’ Shi’ite-Sunni differences, to which Leiter quipped, “If the Shi’ite and Sunni collaborate despite their differences, shouldn’t we collaborate against terror?”
Mohammed and Leiter also discussed the importance of practical issues common to the region in which advancements and developments in one state may provide solutions for many countries. For example, Leiter discussed Israeli agricultural findings that helped fight a deadly and potentially mutating tomato virus that threatened the entire region’s agricultural growth, while Mohammed noted that the once controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, opened in 2020 with the objective of providing a power source for Ethiopia, has ended up benefitting other African states by providing water and power, and moderating the Nile’s unpredictable flow.
“Our Middle East: An Insider’s View” airs live every Monday on JNS TV Youtube Channel, Facebook and Twitter at 1:30 PM EST/8:30 PM IST. You can also listen to the audio version here. A Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs podcast produced by JNS.
Dan Diker is the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a foreign policy expert and the former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress.