At a time of diplomatic turbulence, Israel's diplomatic ties with the world's newest nation, South Sudan, can benefit its economy and security. While struggling South Sudan will appreciate Israel's aid, it's actually Israel that stands to gain.
The world’s newest member in the community of nations got plenty of press coverage when it formally declared independence in July. But one aspect of South Sudan’s emergence went largely unnoticed: the establishment of official diplomatic relations with Israel. Far from a routine gesture, the mutual declaration of recognition between the two states could prove to be a significant boost to Israel’s strategic position, not to mention the positives that may come as South Sudan attempts to get its new state on a strong footing.
The leaders of South Sudan, a country with a feeble national infrastructure and a near-nonexistent formal economy after two decades of conflict with the north, will much appreciate the economic aid and leverage that comes with a new diplomatic relationship. But it is actually Israel that has the most to gain.
Israel’s diplomatic outreach extends a measure of goodwill to the people of South Sudan – who need all the help they can get as their country begins the long process of setting up embassies, forming an independent foreign policy, and building up their agricultural potential. But the new partnership with the South Sudanese Government also provides Israel with an opportunity to create a foothold in a region that is known to export some its instability into the Middle East.
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