The United States continues its quest to include new countries in the Negev Forum. The American target this time is Niger, a dear big neighbor and partner of Algiers, which is preparing to join the group as a new member.
The idea of establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Niger, Algeria’s second immediate neighbor after Morocco, risks triggering a new episode of irrational hostility on the part of the Algerian regime.
According to the American media Axios, the southern neighbor of Tebboune wishes, with a small American push, to move forward with the warming of ties with Israel, or even to restore diplomatic relations.
It was during his trip to Niamey last month that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Niger to normalize relations with Israel, the same source reported. This first-ever visit to Niger was an opportunity for the two officials to discuss ways to advance the U.S.-Niger partnership in diplomacy, democracy, development and defense. Blinken, on the other hand, arrived with an additional agenda.
Moreover, the trip to Niger in mid-March made the official the first American secretary of state to visit this predominantly Muslim country in West Africa, which is becoming a key partner for the United States on security in the Sahel.
For Axios, the previously undisclosed discussion between Blinken and President Mohamed Bazoum on Israel is just another sign that the Biden administration is working behind the scenes to include more Arab and majority countries. Muslim in the famous Abraham Accords.
Israeli and American officials reveal to the American site that two weeks after his visit to Niger, Blinken spoke by telephone with his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, and informed him of his talks, which also included the Nigerien Minister of Foreign Affairs. foreigners, Hassoumi Massaoudou.
They even claimed that Cohen had offered to invite Niger to participate in the Negev Forum, which brings together the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt. He added that Niger’s leaders were ready to warm ties with Israel and even restore diplomatic relations, but wanted to get results from the Biden administration.
As a reminder, Israel maintained diplomatic relations with Niger in the 1960s, but these were severed in 1973. The two countries renewed their ties in 1996 following the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Liberation Organization of Palestine, but Niger cut ties again in 2002 during the second Intifada. Informal relations exist, but still no normalization.
Since 2018, Israel has strengthened its ties in Africa and now has more and more allies. Israel has restored its ties with Chad, started a process of normalization with Sudan and even restored its diplomatic relations with Morocco in December 2020. This relaunch of Israel on the African continent increases more pressure on an Algeria which is becoming systematically hostile on this issue.
And now that one of its biggest partners is planning to join the fold of the member countries of the Negev Forum, Algeria will be surrounded by all the borders of countries that go against its “noble aspirations”.