ON Arab-African Relations: the Israel factor


So I watched this video for a class, and it was quite enjoyable (if you understand Arabic) as a matter of fact, I actually am getting into the program Minbar Al-Jazeera because it is one of the few programs that just feature the ideas presented by regular people.

At any rate, yup yup back to Arab-African relations.  The thing that I on one hand understand the reasons behind on the other hand see as a scapegoat for a lot of things is the Israel factor.  Apparently Israel is making a concious effort to strenghten its diplomatic relations with sub-Saharan AFrican countries, which is putting many Arab countries/communities in an uproar.

Well, that is what you would think if you watched this program and read some of the articles for class.

The reasoning goes that anywhere that Israel goes it is trying to undermine the influence and power of the Arab world.  In fact, the main  and recurring question throughout the episode above is does Israeli’s presence in Africa pose a threat to the Arab world?

Which is fair enough I suppose.  But this discussion much like everything else that I  read in Arabic about this completely strips Africans of their Agency!

Africa is still viewed as cake to be divided up, In fact more than one caller says that Africa is being divvied up between America, France and China. (or some variation thereof).

I made it point to tell my instructor today that the Arabic sources are treating Africans as if they don’t have common sense and can’t think for themselves.  As if AFrican leaders don’t have Concerns and strategic priorities.  In fact, for me this discussion reads as if Africa just sits there and will blindly follow whomever will offer some bread for her poor , naked, starving people.

This, I think is a terrible mistake because its not a realistic base from which issues can be resolved.

I always refer to it, but the Southern Sudan issue is the oft-repeated example.  In fact someone on the program says that it’s Israel that encouraged the Southerns to fight against the central government and push for independence.

Really?  I thought it was the 100+ years of degradations, and eexploitation on the part of the ruler of the time (Ottomans, the Mahdiyya, the British, and  then the modern Sudanese state) couple with post-independence antagonism and struggle that was the root of that conflict!  Israel is a cop-out to the government and the Arab League’s inability to face reality on this issue.

Then we have the fight over the Nile.  Which is something I really don’t fully understand the details of up until now.  The Source of the Nile is the Victoria River which is located in a bunch of AFrican countries.  Other smaller sources are located in a bunch of AFrican countries like Rwanda and  Ethiopia and maybe Eritrea as well.  The main problem as I understand it is that Egypt and Sudan will be adversely affected by any sort of plans that these African countries take to use the Nile waters for their own purposes.

This is compounded by the fact that they have banded together to revoke Egypt’s right to veto any decision made by any other country on building dams and agricultural projects and such.

The article my instructor had me read was something so the effect of “x.y and z country band together to destroy Egypt!” What!!!!!!!!!

While I understand Egypt and Sudan’s concern with this issue, after all the Nile is the Life source for both countries, I must confess what intrigued me most about this issue, what I want to know is,

How in the world did Egypt get the right to veto any other country’s development project? Me thinks that the terms of this initial agreement (from 1929) need to be revisited.  Unfortunately it will mean that Egypt and Sudan will have to do with less.

But I would wager that this has more to do with countries trying to find ways to feed their people and develop their economies… than Israel convincing those Africans that they should get those Arabs up North… sigh.

But what do I know?

Africans are a lot more savvy than people give us credit for.  We are not clueless about the true reason behind other people’s interest in the continent.


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