By Abdel Bari Atwan
February 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House” (Gulf News) – Israeli commentators are making much of the ‘diplomatic opportunity’* afforded by France’s military intervention in Mali.
Israel has long been keen to establish a foothold in parts of Africa, for strategic as well as economic reasons. The vast continent offers relatively accessible (and increasingly fought-over) sources of energy and water, as well as emerging markets.
While Israel has been able to establish diplomatic relationships with most non-Muslim African countries, nations such as Mali and Niger have so far refused to formally recognise it.
Clearly, Israel would like to convert these nations of the Sahel into friends and a potential rear guard against hostile Arab nations in the north. Part of the way it hopes to do so is by creating, or exploiting, anti-Arab feeling. Feelings Mali’s new leader, President Dioncounda Traoré, has taken to voicing in the past weeks.