With its petrodollars and religious penetration, Saudi Arabia is broadening its influence on the continent. It is spreading the Salafi doctrine of radical and conservative Islam.
The Saudi heir Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced that next April a summit will be held in Riyadh on collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Africa. What are the interests in Africa of this rich Gulf country believed to be the cradle of Islamic fundamentalism and the ideologue/sponsor of Jihadi terrorism which, for years, has been spreading death and instability in the Middle East and in Africa?
Certainly, it is not the socio-economic development and political stability of the African countries. Today, for all intents and purposes, Saudi Arabia presents itself as a neo-colonial country.
Its African ‘crusade’ has as its main objective that of extending its geo-political and geo-religious influence. The economy of Saudi Arabia is essentially based upon oil: it is one of the three top countries in the world both for production and export of the ‘black gold’ (the other two are the United States and Russia).
The special interest of the Saudis in the Horn of Africa is to guarantee the transit of the oil tankers to other countries through the Straits of Bab el Mandeb that connect the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
Using its petrodollars, Saudi Arabia greatly influences Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
In Sudan, Riyadh maintains the military coup regime led by General al-Burhan who, in the time of the dictator El-Bashir, was responsible for the Sudanese troops sent to fight in the war against the Yemen.
Saudi Arabia imports most of its agricultural needs. For many years it has been appropriating the fertile lands of the state at the expense of the populations of Sudan, Ethiopia and many others.
A World Bank report ten years ago revealed that 60 million hectares of land have been ceded in Africa to foreign investors, including the Saudis and their cousins in the United Arab Emirates, under decades-long sales or lease agreements.
China, the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, and Italy are also resorting to this new and subtle form of neo-colonialism but what distinguishes Saudi Arabia from other predators is its inclination to penetrate Africa through religious neo-colonialism.
In a continent with nearly 650 million Muslims, most of them Sunnis, Saudi Arabia has used religious identity as a lever to extend its influence: today we are witnessing rampant Islamisation in Africa. In Ivory Coast, a country with a Christian majority, more mosques and Koranic schools have been built in recent years, financed indirectly by Saudi Arabia, than churches or secular schools
Even more worrying is the spread of Salafism, a doctrine cultivated by the al-Saud family, which proposes a radical and conservative form of Islam, based on violence. And it is the same doctrine that characterizes the actions of al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries that have destabilized the Middle East and are disrupting the Sahel.
This diffusion is financed with petrodollars which today represent a curse for the peoples of Africa as they are bearers of hatred, violence, and religious sectarianism. (Photo: 123rf.com/kunilanskap)
Mostafa El Ayoubi