OPINION: Geopolitics of Saudi Arab – Africa Conference in Riyadh


Lead Researcher, Montgomery Zunga

RIYADH, (CAJ News) – GREAT events are happening which tilt the geopolitical landscape towards Africa and Asia.  

The Russia – Africa summit was followed by the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) Summit and the AGOA Summit.

The Saudi-Africa summit on Friday, 10 November in Riyad was the first such gathering of African heads in Saudi Arabia, hosted by Saudi Prime Minister Mohamed bin Salman, head of a country started by Mahammad bin Saud, from a population of nomadic Bedouin people in 1932.

Termed Saudi-Arab-African Economic Conference, the gathering came in the backdrop of Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which over 11, 000 civilians have died from both sides and the war still rages.

Israel is backed by the United States of America (USA) while the Palestinian cause is supported by the Arab world, amid a backdrop of 10, 000 killed in Sudan civil conflict.

Sudi Arabia is an oil producing country, which has strong ties to the United States.  But the US is no longer a major oil customer as it is producing all its oil requirements within the American territories.

The US was the de facto global leader and undertook to protect Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil supply to the United States.

China has taken over as the major Saudi oil customer. Saudi Arabia is flash with cash, about US$2.3 trillion, and its ties to Africa and BRICS brings with it a financial muscle which could turn BRICS Bank into a major position to assist Africa, on top of bilateral arrangements signed at the conference.

African countries that attended the conference include Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Djibouti, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Mauritania, South Africa, Gabon, Niger, Sudan, Eretria, Mauritius, Malawi, Tanzania, Gambia, including countries threatened to exit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in January 2024.

South Africa was represented by Deputy President Paul Mashatile.

These leaders were not coming for money. They arrived in Riyadh to show the US that its recreation of World War allies was unsatisfactory, and that a new axis would not welcome such one-sided world political approach.

The US handling of global political matters under Joe Biden and Donal Trump, seen currently in the Ukraine – Russia war and now the Israeli-Palestinian war a threat to security.

By 11 November 2023, Riyadh had also hosted the Arab Islamic Summit of 57 countries from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League which rejected the US support for Israel to defend itself, as Israel is the occupier of Palestine and the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian civilians including women and children. The US influence is faltering.

South African foreign policy outlook is more balanced than that of the US government.  Keep up South Africa and President Ramaphosa.

NB: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CAJ News Africa.

Montgomery Zunga is an economist, political analyst and researcher based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

– CAJ News



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