Over the past few weeks, African politics have been the source of events that have directly affected Israel.
First, following the publication of Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s Aug. 22 meeting with Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush in Rome, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh fired Mangoush, who had already fled to Turkey. The entire Tripoli-based government was destabilized by the news.
This past Saturday, Eritrean migrants subjected south Tel Aviv to a violent riot. More than 100 people were injured, including dozens of policemen in the melee that saw supporters of the Eritrean regime pitted against its opponents.
Is there a framework for looking at these events? How is Israel supposed to look at Africa? How important is the continent and what can Israel—or the United States, for that matter—do to prevent the youngest continent, with vast natural resources and the fastest-growing population on earth, from doing harm and instead build cooperative, mutually beneficial ties with as many of Africa’s 54 states as possible?
To discuss this issue and try to build a basic understanding for analyzing events emanating from it, Caroline’s guest on this week’s “Caroline Glick Show” was Ambassador J. Peter Pham. Pham, who currently serves as a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and senior advisor at the Kach Institute for Tech Diplomacy, is the former U.S. Special Envoy for the Sahle and Great Lakes Regions of Africa.
Pham explained both the stakes and the pathologies of both American and Israeli ties with Africa. Pham and Glick compared the relative advantages of major powers, like the United States and China, and regional powers like Israel and Iran in forging ties with African nations. He also had some important advice for Israeli diplomats on how to build and prioritize Israel’s ties with the least considered, yet strategically critical, region of the world.