What East Africa Wants from Israel

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu has been visiting Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Many factors have encouraged the warming of relations between Israel and these African states. They include the fall of Muammar Ghaddafi, who exerted his influence to keep Israel out of Africa, the thaw between Israel and those Sunni Arab states that have African allies, and interest in Israeli water technology. But, writes Herb Keinon, one concern is paramount:

Three of the four [countries visited by Netanyahu]—Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia—are facing terrorism from Islamic extremists, and Rwanda is concerned about a spillover effect. These countries are afraid that what has happened in Libya, Mali, and the Ivory Coast could happen to them as well.

For this reason they are interested in forging stronger ties with Israel. It is not all about getting water, energy, and agricultural know-how; it is also very much about getting Israeli knowledge and assistance in how to combat terrorism.

These countries, and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, are more concerned with questions of homeland security than they were some twenty years ago, and they see Israel as one country with a great deal of experience—and technology—in this field.

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More about: Africa, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ethiopia, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Terrorism

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey