05.06.2020 Author: Valery Kulikov

“Greater Israel” and North Africa


In his diaries, the father of modern political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, wrote that the area of the Jewish State stretched from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates. The “Greater Israel” (or the “Yinon”) plan, first drafted more than a century ago, entails “weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO and Saudi Arabia”. And then “a number of proxy States” would be created and include “parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai,” “Iraq and Saudi Arabia”. It is therefore not surprising that the “Greater Israel” project “constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government, the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment”.

Since the pro-Israel lobbying groups in the United States are quite powerful, “the Greater Israel design is not strictly a Zionist project for the Middle East, it is an integral part of US foreign policy”, especially in recent decades. That is why “President Donald Trump has confirmed in no uncertain terms, his support of Israel’s illegal settlements (including his opposition to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, pertaining to the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank)”. The fact that he chose “to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” is also in line with this policy. This decision “is intended to trigger political instability throughout the region”, which would benefit supporters of the “Greater Israel” plan.

Sociologist Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, writes that the Yinon Plan “is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority”, which “stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the Balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states”. He also states that, according to the plan, Iraq is “outlined as the centerpiece to the Balkanization of the Middle East and the Arab World”, with its division into “a Kurdish state and two Arab states, one for Shiite Muslims and the other for Sunni Muslims”. And “the first step towards establishing this” is a war between Iraq and Iran. The Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, and that “the partitioning of Iran, Turkey, Somalia, and Pakistan” is also consistent with it.

Some experts opine that “the Zionist plan for the Middle East bears an intimate relationship to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing wars on Syria, Iraq and Yemen, not to mention the political crisis in Saudi Arabia”.

However, the “Yinon Plan” “also calls for dissolution in North Africa”. Israel appears to be “interested” in Africa not only because of potential benefits to be derived from political cooperation with this region and joint efforts to fight Islamic extremism but also due to the plethora of natural resources on this continent. Africa is rich in deposits of manganese, platinum, copper, iron and uranium ores, in crude oil and gas, and in other natural resources.

The “dissolution in North Africa,” described in the “Greater Israel” plan, is expected to start from Egypt and then spill “over into Sudan, Libya, and the rest of the region”. In fact, some processes of change have already started – South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011; Libya is divided, and there have been several Arab Spring uprisings, including one in Egypt.

Since protests began in Tunisia and then spread to Libya and other parts of the region, Tel Aviv has been seemingly creating pro-Israeli territories, as envisioned in the “Yinon” plan. In the opinion of Giorgio Cafiero, the CEO of Gulf State Analytics (a Washington-based geopolitical risk consultancy), coordination between Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar (the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA)) “and the Israelis, which has been conducted through the UAE, began in 2015, if not sooner”. He also thinks that Israel’s backing of the LNA “illustrates the regional geopolitical dynamics which have led” Sunni-majority “Arab states—specifically Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE—to find themselves in the same boat with Israel, sharing the same perceptions of security threats”. All of these nations view Iran, Hezbollah and extremist Islamic movements comprising Muslim militant brothers (such as, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, Jama’at al-Muslimin (or Takfir wal-Hijra), Osbat al-Ansar and Katibat Ibad Ar-Rahman,  all of these terrorist organizations are banned in the Russian Federation) as a threat. According to Giorgio Cafiero, Khalifa Haftar is perhaps the type of Arab leader, like Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt or King Abdullah II in Jordan, who Israel can cooperate with by, for instance, sharing intelligence.

He also believes that “Libya’s natural resources are a factor too” because “Israel may expect to secure access to Libya’s petroleum after backing Haftar”. In addition, the CEO of Gulf State Analytics states that “lucrative weapons sales also help explain Israel’s interest” in supporting the LNA. In fact, based on information from one military source, Khalifa Haftar met with “Mossad agents in Jordan in strict secrecy” in 2015 and 2016, which is when “Israel began providing the LNA with sniper rifles and night vision equipment”. Citing media outlet Al-Araby al-Jadeed, the Middle East Monitor reported that “Haftar sought a stronger Israeli presence in southern Libya to thwart Italy” from asserting significant influence throughout the Fezzan (in southern Libya). Then the LNA commander allegedly met with Israeli intelligence agents a number of times, including in Amman and Cairo.

Later on, Israeli military began carrying out air raids in Libya in coordination with the LNA after Haftar launched Operation Dignity in 2014. In addition, an investigation by Al Jazeera Arabic revealed that the commander may have received support from Israel before the LNA launched an offensive on Tripoli on 4 April 2019.

The source “explained that although Egypt supports Haftar cooperation with Israel”, it does not want the commander “to communicate directly with Israel”. Apparently, Cairo also does not wish to be open about its increasingly frequent meetings with Israelis lately. For instance, Egypt would even prefer to keep the meeting, which took place at the end of May, between Director of Mossad Yossi Cohen and Abbas Kamel, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS), secret. According to a brief report by media outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the officials discussed “Israel’s annexation plan, the situation in Gaza, the Deal of the Century and other issues”.

The Middle East Monitor reported that “officials in Algiers warned Haftar against receiving Israeli military support”. Algeria also appears to be critical of the “Greater Israel” plan and views it with suspicion.

Valery Kulikov, expert political scientist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.