Israel accounted for less than 1 per cent of transfers of major weapons to sub-Saharan Africa for the period 2006–10. Deliveries consisted mainly of small numbers of artillery, unmanned aerial vehicles, armoured vehicles and patrol craft. However, in addition to major weapons, Israel also supplied small arms and light weapons, military electronics and training to several countries in the region. Israeli weapons, trainers and brokers have been observed in numerous African trouble spots and may play a bigger role than their numbers imply.
The Israeli arms export decision-making process remains unclear. Issues like human rights and potential diversion or misuse of delivered weapons seem to have gained importance, but deliveries to conflicts and undemocratic regimes continue. While the African arms market is small, its commercial aspect is an important driver for Israel’s arms sales. However, developing political and military ties to several African countries is also gaining importance, particularly to counter Iranian or suspected-Iranian influences. Israeli arms transfers to Africa illustrate the need to include smaller suppliers and issues such as training and intelligence systems in discussions on controls of the arms trade.
II. Israeli arms exports to sub-Saharan Africa
III. Explaining Israeli arms exports—motives and restraints
IV. Israeli arms export controls
V. The impact of Israeli arms on conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa
This paper is one of a series produced for the SIPRI Project on Monitoring Arms Flows to Africa and Assessing the Practical Regional and National Challenges and Possibilities for a Relevant and Functioning Arms Trade Treaty. The project is funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The other background papers in the series are:
Arms transfers to Zimbabwe: implications for an arms trade treaty, Lukas Jeuck, March 2011
Ukrainian arms supplies to sub-Saharan Africa, Paul Holtom, February 2011
South African arms supplies to sub-Saharan Africa, Pieter D. Wezeman, January 2011
Arms flows and the conflict in Somalia, Pieter D. Wezeman, October 2010
The final report of the project is
Arms Flows to Sub-Saharan Africa, SIPRI Policy Paper no. 30, Pieter D. Wezeman, Siemon T. Wezeman and Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, December 2011
About the author
Siemon T. Wezeman(Netherlands) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. His areas of research include the monitoring of arms transfers, with particular focus on the Asia–Pacific region and North America, and the use of weapons in conflicts. He also researches military technology and transparency in arms transfers. Since 1992 he has worked with the Arms Transfers Programme.