For over three decades, every Chinese foreign minister’s first overseas trip of the year has been to Africa. This year continued the tradition with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, visiting Egypt, Tunisia, Togo and Côte d'Ivoire. Notably, every one of these countries is coastal. And yet, at a time of continued speculation over China’s next military installation in Africa, none of these countries has featured prominently as potential locations in previous analyses. We might, therefore, reasonably ask what China’s current considerations are around basing in Africa. Faced with an increasingly multipolar and assertive Africa at a time of domestic economic challenge, however, China’s long-term strategy remains unclear.
Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, Egypt has been heavily involved in efforts to end the military confrontations and wars that have periodically broken out in Gaza. However, the scope, scale and stakes of the current war is unlike any prior round of hostilities. In response to the massacre and hostage-taking of mostly Israeli civilians by Hamas and other militant armed groups during their devastating attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, Israel has launched one of the most destructive wars in its history. Indeed, this war will be transformational in numerous ways, with ramifications for several stakeholders beyond the parties themselves.
Amid today’s dismal Israeli-Palestinian context, positive developments have been in short supply. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s June announcement of preliminary approval for the development of the Gaza Marine gas fields provided a rare glimpse of a potential win-win opportunity. For the Palestinians, it could provide a much-needed boost to their lagging economy and the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA). On the Israeli side, it allows the Netanyahu government to claim it is assisting in improving living conditions in Gaza and could lead to less U.S. pressure on issues like settlement expansion. In the big picture, this is another example of how energy is increasingly becoming a focus for potential win-win agreements in the East Mediterranean.
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The states on the western side of the Red Sea to the south of Egypt and the Arab states from the east of Egypt through the Arabian Gulf have long been considered distinct regions. This is increasingly a distinction without a difference, however, as these states now operate more as a common political, security, and economic zone.