The African Muslim nation of Chad dedicated their embassy in Israel last week, taking the significant next step in a process that began in 2019 when Chad agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a meeting with Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, recognized the significance of the partnership not only for the two nations, but for the entire continent of Africa as well.
“[Israel-Chad relations are] in our view a tremendously important relationship with a major country in the heart of Africa. It is something that we want to carry to new levels, new heights, and your visit here in Israel and the opening of the embassy is a reflection of that,” Netanyahu told President Deby on Wednesday in comments published by Israel.
“We believe that our cooperation can help not only advance our relations and our cooperation but it is also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel. We have common goals of security, prosperity and stability.”
Diplomatic relations between the two nations were reinstated officially during a visit in January 2019 by Netanyahu to Chad with former Chad President, and late father to the current Chad leader, Idriss Deby. However, making that political progress was once a secretive process in which the Israeli Mossad spy agency played a key role.
The Mossad, which a separate Israeli press release noted has the “responsibility for developing and advancing special covert links” with countries that do not have official diplomatic relations with Israel, coordinated with the Chad intelligence services to advance relations between the sides and arrange for visits between the countries. The Mossad role was so crucial to the diplomatic breakthrough that Chad President Deby on Wednesday last week expressed his gratitude to the spy agency.
“I want to commend Mossad and the Chadian intelligence services for their decisive contribution, as the architects who with their own hands built the relations between us,” Deby was quoted as saying in an Israeli press release. “I want to congratulate them on their wonderful work in preparing this visit and I want to ask them and encourage them to keep up their work in order to enable the strengthening of relations and more visits on both sides.”
Mossad Director David Barnea, in his own comments on Tuesday last week published by Israel, noted that Chad is yet “another important Islamic country in Africa” establishing relations with Israel, and this has a big-picture impact.
“Expanding the circle of diplomatic partnerships is an important goal in expanding Israel’s strategic depth,” said Barnea. “I am very hopeful that additional leaders in the Middle East and Africa will be inspired by this important agreement and will advance their relations with Israel. The Mossad will continue to take all possible action to advance ties with each country and element in which it is in the State of Israel’s interest to aspire to an agreement and peace with it.”
The significance of the resumption of diplomatic ties with Chad even extends beyond the region. In his comments on Wednesday, Chad President Deby emphasized his own nation’s international support for Israel: “Since the normalization of relations, Chad has consistently and stridently provided diplomatic and political support to the State of Israel, in all international forums, and wherever necessary. We make this choice fully understanding its results and completely conscious of its significance.”
Shared security concerns are yet another facet of the relationship. In a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, President Deby and other diplomatic and defense officials on Thursday, the sides discussed counterterrorism efforts. Per an Israeli readout of the meeting, Gallant “raised the importance of narrowing the influence of Iran and Hezbollah in the Sahel region, as a key to ensuring stability, and thwarting the export of terrorism.”
The renewal of ties between Israel and Chad may have begun covertly, but the reestablishment of the Chad embassy in Israel helps make the link physically visible once again. And its visible impact extends even further.
Said President Deby on Wednesday, “I can already see, and I am happy to see, the quality of our cooperation. What characterize our relations are honesty and a common will to help advance this process, and we see this with every step.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 5, 2023)