The Shadow of Riyadh over Africa.
Saudi Arabian interests have an anti-Iran role in the war in Yemen; “peace” between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the flourishing Jihadist militias on the African continent.
Saudi Arabia is spreading its dangerous geo-political web also over Ethiopia and Eritrea. These two countries, after twenty years of conflict, reached an agreement on 9 July described as a «declaration of peace and friendship ». The final seal on the agreement was that of the King of Saudi Arabia in a ceremony that took place on 16 September in Jeddah.
In the presence of the Gulf Monarch, the Ethiopian and Eritrean presidents signed the peace agreement. Also present at the signing – as extras – were the Secretary General of the United Nations and a representative of the African Union.
But why did Saudi Arabia take an interest in the matter? Is it not the UN that is supposed to manage conflicts between its member states? Unfortunately, it was the lack of action on the part of the UN that allowed such a situation to develop – a paradoxical situation in which the country that founded al-Qaida – which contributed to the destruction of Syria and is now waging a ruthless war against Yemen – is now a mediator of peace between two African states.
A pyromaniac does not make a good fireman! Since 2015, various African countries, including Sudan, Senegal and Djibouti, have been fighting alongside the Saudis against the Yemenis.
Riyadh’s diplomatic move is neither pacific nor humanitarian vis a’ vis Addis Ababa and Asmara. It is rather due to the vast geostrategic interests of Saudi Arabia in Africa.
Eritrea is close to Bab al-Mandeb, the strait that separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa, a strategic passageway that joins the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal in Egypt through which passes a large part of world trade (4.8 million barrels of oil a day in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration).
Riyadh is seeking to consolidate its presence in the strait. It is in control of Djibouti and Somaliland (a self-proclaimed independent region in the north of Somalia with a flag similar to that of the Saudis). Saudi Arabia considers Iran a threat to its geostrategic interests. This is why it wants to conquer Yemen, an ally of Teheran. But Bab al-Mandeb is also strategic for the United States and Europe who do not speak of the Yemeni situation since Riyadh is an ally that does the dirty work in Yemen to halt the geopolitical advance of Iran in the region.
The presence of the Saudis, nevertheless, reaches the entire continent through dollar diplomacy. The Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia in Africa manages 45 billion dollars, used to corrupt politicians and heads of state or to finance armed militias that follow ideologies close to that of the Wahhabis, or to buy the arable land of the Africans.
Religion is another means by which Saudi Arabia extends its influence. Islam is the second largest religion in Africa, after Christianity. Today, operating in the continent of Africa, there are charitable Islamic organisations financed by Riyadh that engage in hasty proselytism with a radical extremist face that may disfigure the human face of Islam in black Africa. The Wahhabi dollars are a destructive poison.
Mostafa El Ayoubi
Middle East Analyst