How Africa Sees the Gaza War

Let’s now turn from America to Africa, where Jerusalem has made significant diplomatic inroads in the last decade. South Africa, where the ruling party is fully aligned with the Palestinian national movement, has led the legal campaign against Israel at the International Court of Justice and elsewhere. Arab countries in North Africa have also responded to the present war with typical hostility, with the exception of Israel’s allies Morocco and Egypt. As for the other African nations, Asher Lubotzky examines their reactions:

Most African countries, including a number of countries that have good bilateral relations with Israel (such as Uganda and Angola), have either employed ambiguous and neutral language in statements or have completely ignored the war.

The litmus test of Israel’s standing in Africa during the war was the UN votes on October 27 and December 12. The resolutions adopted on these dates called for an immediate ceasefire and did not condemn Hamas, and, thus, Israel and its close allies opposed them. These resolutions won substantial support in Africa, and even countries friendly to Israel, such as Kenya and Ghana, voted for them. At the same time, a few African countries stood by Israel.

Furthermore, the weakening of American influence in Africa vis-à-vis both China and Russia in recent years has negatively affected the ability of the United States to gain support from African countries for Western interests around the world, such as the war in Ukraine and the war against Hamas. Countries that have become close to Moscow in recent years, such as the Central African Republic, have also tended to adjust their UN votes to reflect Russia’s views. . . . Conversely, Israel has good relations with Christian-majority countries in eastern, central, and western Africa.

Lubotzky also notes one especially good piece of news:

As of the writing of this article, not a single African country—including the Muslim countries that have recently established relations with Israel, such as Chad, Sudan, Guinea, and Morocco—has officially severed its relations with Israel. From a historical perspective, this alone is an Israeli achievement; . . . during the Yom Kippur War and in its aftermath, more than twenty African countries broke off diplomatic relations with Israel.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Africa, Gaza War 2023, Israel diplomacy


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy