Iran is seeking greater influence, via trade and weapons exports, in Africa, two new reports claim. The assertion, at the UAE-based Al-Ain media, describes how Iran is “is expanding its footprint in Africa, offering a recipe for weapons, trade partnerships and chaos to enhance its influence on the African continent.”

It is using the current global chaos unleashed as a result of events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war in Gaza to achieve this. It is also adding “new lines of influence from Sudan,” the report says. The report builds on an earlier investigation by Radio Free Europe (RFE) on April 23 which first examined this trend.

“Iran is expanding its footprint in Africa, offering arms, partnerships, and chaos as it works to boost its influence on the continent,” RFE noted. “This week, Iran is touting the second Iran-Africa trade summit in just over a year, with representatives from more than 40 African countries expected for the April 26-29 event in Tehran,” the RFE article said. It focused on Iran’s role in Niger and Sudan.

The UAE’s media interest illustrates that Iran’s expansion raises eyebrows in the Gulf. It examines this trend amid reports that Iran also drew-down forces in Syria. An Iranian official was quoted saying “the future of global trade will be determined in Africa,” according to Iran’s Mehr Agency.
Iran’s strategic expansion

All the ingredients in Africa are present for enabling Iran’s exploitation of the scene. Iran preys on chaos and establishes long-term investment in local networks. This is how it operationalized the Houthis in Yemen. It also seeks to establish proxy groups. Iran is also expanding relationships in Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.

“Iranian weapons sales to Sudan’s armed forces, which are fighting a civil war against rebels, have recently allowed the military to reverse losses and regain territory,” RFE noted. The export of Iranian drones to Sudan has been in the spotlight over the last months, for instance. “Iran seeks, by providing such assistance to the Sudanese Armed Forces, to strengthen its presence on the African continent and carve out an area of influence for it,” Al-Ain noted.

Both reports focus on Iran’s role across the Sahel from Sudan to Niger. Niger has sought to shift its links from the West to countries like Russia and Iran.

Tehran wants to fill the vacuum left by the West, as it has done elsewhere. “Iran signed several cooperation agreements with Burkina Faso in the fields of energy, urban planning, higher education, and construction,” the Al-Ain report said. Iran has also sought to expand influence in Mali.

The creeping Iranian influence in Africa has been clear for years. In many cases Iran already had ties with regimes such as Sudan and they are merely trying to keep those ties. However, they also want to exploit the apparent weakening of the West to move into new areas of influence.

Towards that end they see opportunities in places like Niger. The wider picture is Iran’s attempt to use the Gaza war and its ties with Russia to build a new regional and global world order. Africa is one area it is active, but it is also active in Central Asia and other regions.

Source » jpost