Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Lieberman used Africa trip to lay groundwork for arms deals

11 September 2009

By Yossi Melman, Haaretz – 11 Sept 2009

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman returns Friday from a visit in five African states, where in addition to discussing Africa’s internal problems, he and his entourage laid the groundwork for weapons deals.

While Lieberman talked with African leaders about the hunger, water shortage, malnutrition and plagues afflicting their nations, the visit was also used to advance arms deals.

The Foreign Ministry officials on the trip were accompanied by arms dealers and weapons manufacturers. The latter included, among others, executives from Soltam, Israel Military Industries, Israel Aerospace Industries, Silver Shadow advanced security systems Ltd., Israel Shipyards and Elbit Systems.

Although Lieberman declared he would reactivate Israeli foreign policy in certain African states, past experience has shown that the Defense Ministry and arms manufacturers’ lobby have hijacked Israeli foreign policy in recent decades and subordinated it to their needs, Israeli sources said.

No deals were signed on this trip. But Foreign Ministry officials estimate Africa’s business potential at some $1 billion, in addition to the $3 billion of merchandise and services Israel currently exports to the continent.

Lieberman began his visit in Ethiopia, where he met the prime minister and foreign minister. They discussed ways in which Israel could help as part of the Foreign Ministry’s projects in biotechnology, agriculture, water conservation and helping to contain AIDS.

Ethiopia, which has long had friendly relations with Israel, is willing to allow Israeli military agents operate there.

The country holds strategic importance based on its proximity to Arab states and its position overlooking sailing routes to Eilat and the Suez Canal.

Its importance is enhanced by Iran’s increasing involvement in the region and al-Qaida’s growing presence, especially in Somalia, in recent years.

Officials assume that these issues were discussed in Lieberman’s talks, which were not reported to the media.

Lieberman’s visit in Kenya was similar. Lieberman met Kenyan Deputy President Kalonzo Musyoka, and the foreign minister there, and said Israel was ready to share its experience in halting the desertification and turning the wilderness into arable land.

Here too they discussed issues that were not reported. Kenya has assisted Israel in the past in anti-terror activity, as indicated by releasing the hijacked airplane in Operation Entebbe, in Uganda, and extraditing Germans who worked with Palestinian terrorists.

On Wednesday Lieberman visited Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest, richest and most important states, which hosts a relatively large Israeli business community. Nigeria is also an important market for Israeli weapons.

Lieberman also visited Uganda and Ghana.

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