Conflict in the Horn of Africa Should Worry Israel

Nov. 15 2021

The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia, besides constituting a humanitarian catastrophe, threatens to spill over into neighboring Sudan and Eritrea. Separately, Egypt has threatened Addis Ababa with war should it go through with its plans for a new dam on the Blue Nile. Eyal Zisser explains why Israel should be concerned:

Despite the geographical distance, Israel is finding itself involved in the war in Ethiopia. First, due to the Falash Mura community, who have ties to Judaism and want to immigrate to Israel. The realities of civil war, as we have seen play out in other parts of the world, motivate many people suddenly to rediscover the Jewish roots—putting Israel in a complicated position.

Second, because of Ethiopia’s strategic location along the Red Sea: on one side of the sea Iran is establishing a menacing military presence in Yemen; on the other, Israel has managed to forge alliances with Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, and recently Sudan as well. All of this is now in jeopardy due to civil wars and internal conflicts afflicting these countries. Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that although the rising [tensions] between Cairo and Addis Ababa threaten to consume Israel, both countries have asked the Jewish state for help and support.

Restoring peace and stability to Ethiopia is a supreme interest for the country’s own people, its neighbors in Africa, and for far-flung Israel.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Jews, Israeli Security, Sudan

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine