It has been a full 47 years since the diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed by the North African Muslim nation of Chad, but now, during a historic visit to that country by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two nations have agreed to renew them. Commenting on this event, PM Netanyahu said: “This is part and parcel of the revolution that we are making happen in the Arab and Muslim world”. Netanyahu further remarked that this visit and the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries are strongly opposed by Iran and by the Palestinians and both had tried and failed to prevent it from taking place. During his brief visit, PM Netanyahu met with Chad’s foreign minister and with President Idris Deby in the Presidential Palace in the capital city N’Djamena.
While Chad is a small country with a population of roughly one million, its strategic location bordering on Lybia and Sudan and the fact that it is majority Muslim, make the renewal of its relations with Israel an event of strategic importance in the region. Israel has a long history, dating back to the 1960 and 1970’s, of surreptitiously helping developing nations in Africa with technologies relating to agriculture in arid zones and natural resource exploitation. It is only recently, however, that such cooperation is beginning to bear the fruit of international recognition and is coming out into the open.
The visit and the resulting photo-op are a welcome respite for Netanyahu from the escalating drumbeat of news reporting on his upcoming indictment on corruption charges and fits well with his election strategy of describing himself as a leader of world stature.