Ayalon to launch two projects in Africa (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 08/10/12)
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Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will travel to Kenya, Uganda and
Ethiopia on Sunday and inaugurate two high-profile projects.
The initiatives come as Israel is keen on deepening its ties with
strategically valuable countries in the greater Horn of Africa region.
In Kenya, Ayalon will launch a joint program, along with German’s
Minister for Economic Cooperate and Development Dirk Niebel, to
rehabilitate contaminated regions adjacent to Lake Victoria.
And in Uganda, he will inaugurate an Israeli-established trauma
center at a hospital in Kampala.
The projects, according to Avi Granot, deputy director-general of the
Africa division in the Foreign Ministry, are part of efforts by
Israel to significantly improve relations with various African
countries that are increasingly looking to Israel for guidance on how
to secure their borders and combat Islamic terrorism.
Granot said that hardly a week passes without high-level visitors
from Africa – be they presidents, ministers or top governmental
officials. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu postponed a trip to
Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan that was scheduled for earlier this
summer, but – according to government officials – is trying to
reschedule it for early next summer.
Granot said that two processes were under way in African leading to a
distinct warming of ties between Israel and a number of African
The first, he said, was democratization, stabilization and economic
development taking place in countries such as Ghana, Botswana,
Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Togo, and even Rwanda. These countries are
interested in Israeli expertise and investments in all spheres, from
energy to agriculture, health and infrastructure development.
The other process at work, Granot said, has to do with Arab Spring,
and the upheavals in North African, particularly in Libya.
There is not a country in Africa without an Islamic population, he
said. And there is a concern in sub- Saharan Africa of a spread of
Islamic radicalism. Furthermore, he said, the fall of Muammar Gaddafi
in Libya led to the “leakage” of a massive amount of weapons not only
to the Gaza Strip, but also to sub-Saharan states as well.
Granot said the Foreign Ministry on Thursday held an intensive
discussion on the situation in Mali, where Islamic radicals have
essentially taken over two-thirds of the country. The situation in
Mali is worrying its neighbors and other states in Africa that,
Granot said, are coming to Jerusalem on a regular basis interested in
hearing Israel’s assessments of what is happening in the Arab world,
as well as sharing information and learning about how to secure their
“In African eyes Israel has dealt phenomenally well with Islamic
terrorism, and they want to learn from our experience,” he said.
Granot said that in addition to an interest in intelligence
cooperation, numerous African states are interested in hearing how
Israel analyzes the situation, because often times they don’t have
the same capability as Israel to assess what is happening in the Arab
The area where Ayalon is traveling, as well as other Horn of Africa
countries of Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti, are especially
significant for Israel, he said. Not only do Israeli planes fly over
those countries on their way east, and Israeli ships pass by those
countries on their way out of the Red Sea, but the region is also
turning into an area where Iran is looking for influence, partly as a
way of tightening the vise around Israel.
Granot denied that African migrant issue in Israel is straining
relations with the Horn of Africa countries, saying that Africa
itself is dealing with a massive migrant problem, with an estimated
20 million migrants throughout the continent. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 08/10/12)
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