Tuesday, 28 May

Geopolitics split African states’ response to Iran-Israel tension

General News
Kenyan President William Ruto and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu in 2023. (Photo: FB Ruto)

South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, among others, call for restraint after Iran drone attacks in retaliation to Israeli bombing. The countries’ statements reflect the continent’s geopolitical divide along the two feuding states and the broader Middle East.

Late on Saturday, 13 April, Iran launched hundreds of drone and missile attacks on Israel in response to a suspected Israeli strike on a building in the Iranian Embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus, which killed 13 people including some of Iran’s top commanders on 1 April.

The air raids sparked fresh fears in a region battling multiple deadly conflicts. World leaders are concerned that the latest interaction may draw the region into a broader conflict. While Israel considers its response to the aerial attacks, Iran warned it will strike again and with greater force if either Israel or the US retaliate.

In response to a threat of a devastating regionwide escalation, multiple African nations have implored Iran and Israel to diffuse and de-escalate the tension.

Africa’s call for restraint


In Nigeria, the government called on Israel and Iran to exercise restraint, saying “in this critical period, it behoves the two countries to reflect on the universal commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, for the advancement of global peace and security.”

Though Nigeria has fairly good relations with Israel, it takes the middle road and tries to serve as a voice of reason as opposed to overtly aligning with either side, geopolitical analyst Ovigwe Oguegu tells The Africa Report.

South Africa

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South Africa said it is “gravely concerned about the developments in the Middle East following the retaliatory action” by Iran against Israel following “Israel’s attacks on Iran’s Embassy in Damascus”, Syria.

“South Africa emphasises that all parties must exercise the utmost restraint and avoid any act that would escalate tensions in a particularly fragile region.”

South Africa’s deteriorating relations with Israel are sparked by the governing ANC’s decades-long support for Palestine as well as due to Israel’s ties with the apartheid regime during the white rule in South Africa.

In January, South Africa took Israel to the International Court of Justice on accusations of “grave violence and genocidal acts” committed against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the 7 October 2023 attack on Israel by Hamas. Among the provisional measures South Africa sought was for Israel to immediately halt its military operations in Gaza.

In the statement over the weekend, South Africa renewed its call for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that “while we turn our attention to these developments, let us not forget that the war in Gaza continues with devastating humanitarian consequences for its people.”

It added: “As long as there is impunity for unlawful acts, war and injustice will continue.”


Kenya said it is “deeply concerned by Iran’s attack on the State of Israel,” adding that “the attack represents a real and present threat to international peace and security, contravenes the Charter of the United Nations and should be condemned by all peace-loving countries.”

Kenya described Iran’s aerial attack as an “act of aggression” and urged Israel to show “utmost restraint taking into account the urgent need for all parties to walk away from the brink beyond which recovery will be enormously difficult.”

Kenya has productive and friendly bilateral relations with Israel “in various fields and is underpinned by strong people-to-people ties, offering a strong basis for future growth.”


Somalia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and has never recognised the State of Israel, has called on the international community to take swift and decisive action to de-escalate the situation and reduce the risk of further conflict.

The country emphasised “the need for an immediate cessation of Israeli attacks on Gaza”, advocating for “a just resolution based on a two-state solution” and reaffirming its support for the Palestinian people in their pursuit of “self-determination and justice”.

Eguegu says the African voice in tensions in the Middle East is crucial “because it has an understanding of peace processes and conflict resolution.”



Source: The Africa Report