Cameroon

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
Negev rifles, Muskaten vehicles, Thunder MK-1, Model-839 towed gun, RAM-2000

Companies:

Additional Companies:
Soltam Systems, IAI-Ramta, Samar, Gaia Automotive Industries, Israel Military Industries

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Cameroon

Introduction

Israel’s main influence in the Cameroonian military is through the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a controversial unit that uses Israeli weaponry and has continuously been overseen by former IDF officers. Israel’s most recent arms sales have been the trade of armored vehicles that have been used by the army and the presidential guard.

Israel – Cameroon Relations

Cameroon established diplomatic relations with Israel soon after gaining independence in 1960. Like many African countries, Cameroon cut ties with Israel after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, but was the first to renew them in 1986, with Prime Minister Shimon Peres making a personal visit that year.[1]Israel-Cameroon Relations – Embassy of Israel in Cameroon[2]Israel in Africa: Security, Migration, Interstate Politics (2020) by Yotam Gidron  Israel exports from Cameroon amounted to US$7.73m during 2018, following a steady decrease since 2010.[3]Israel Exports to Cameroon Israel and Cameroon have enjoyed diplomatic cordiality, with Cameroonian students being granted visas to learn about agriculture in Israel, and Israel providing medical training to Cameroonian doctors to address the Ebola epidemic in 2014.[4]Israeli aid on way to fight Ebola spread The Israeli Embassy in Cameroon has also set up humanitarian projects around IDPs and refugees fleeing Boko Haram.[5]Israel in Africa: Cameroon In 2020 Israel donated facemasks to Cameroon to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.[6]Israel supports Cameroon to stem COVID-19- Embassy of Israel in Cameroon As of 2022, Cameroon remains one of two African nations (the other being Eritrea) that does not recognize the state of Palestine.[7]Countries that Recognize Palestine 2022

Military Relations

In 1984 an attempted coup motivated President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, to reorganize his security and replace French support with that of other foreign powers including the US and Israel. A series of Israeli individuals became involved in Cameroonian security, initially Meir Meyuhas (and eventually his son Sami) who had worked on security in Zaire with former Mossad director general Shabtai Shavit,[8]Israel looking after President Biya’s security with elite forces and had been an early exporter of Israeli security goods.[9]Ex-IDF Top Officer Dies in Cameroon Helicopter Crash In the 1980s, Meyuhas brought in former IDF officer Avi Sivan, who was put in charge of reforming the Presidential Guard and then the light infantry battalion, which was later renamed the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR). In the early 2000s, Sivan was joined by former brigadier generals Meyer Heres, Erez Zuckerman, and Eran Moas; after Sivan’s death in 2010, Heres, Zuckerman, and Moas continued to supervise the BIR until Zuckerman left Cameroon in 2017. Though his name is not officially on the BIR’s organizational chart, Moas reportedly handles the business side of the BIR–including managing the strategic relationship with Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, the secretary-general of the presidency of Cameroon since 2011 and Minister of State since 2019– while another former brigadier general from Israel, Baruch Mena, occupies the role of technical adviser to the BIR.[10]Cameroon – Israel: Eran Moas, a ‘consultant’ to Cameroon’s special forces

President Paul Biya has used special security and military units trained by Israeli security companies to quell demonstrations against his rule over Cameroon. The groups that received training from officers and soldiers have been active in Israeli Naval Commando elite units, Shayetet, which also provided them with Israeli weapons.[11]Israel supports Cameroon’s dictatorship

The Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) that controversially answers directly to President Biya is locally known as the “Israeli Unit”.[12]Isreali Lawyers Call for Ban of Arm Export to Cameroon According to various BIR soldiers, each new recruit since 2009 has received a brand-new firearm produced by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), an Israeli arms manufacturer. These have included ACE 21, Galil, and more recently Tavor assault rifles, which cost around $1,900 each. Israeli companies also provide the BIR with armed personnel carriers – such as the Saymar Musketeer and Thunder – and equip the Presidential Guard.[13]Cameroon’s Presidential Guard first known user of Israel Musketeer vehicle[14]Youtube- ARROW 8, au cœur d’un RAID anti Boko Haram[15]Making a killing: Israeli mercenaries in Cameroon

Usage of Israeli Arms

The outfit of the BIR has been supplied with Negev rifles, Tavor bullpup assault rifles, and Galil ACE snipers, and has received Israeli training.[16]Isreali Lawyers Call for Ban of Arm Export to Cameroon[17]New-model African armies[18]Burning Cameroon: Images you’re not meant to see[19]On the border and in the crossfire: Cameroon’s war with Boko Haram The Galil has also been used by the Presidential Guard.[20]SIPRI Background Paper- ISRAELI ARMS TRANSFERS TO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

The BIR used to be supervised by Colonel Avi Sivan, formerly an IDF officer during the First Intifada. He founded the elite Duvdevan unit that specifically operates in the occupied West Bank on densely populated areas.[21]Ex-IDF Top Officer Dies in Cameroon Helicopter Crash[22]Duvdevan Unit- IDF Brigades e was also a private military advisor to Biya as well as defense attaché in Yaoundé, and was responsible for training the Presidential Guard.[23]L’Israélien qui protégeait Biya After Sivan’s death in a helicopter crash in 2010, the BIR’s supervision was handed to another former IDF general Mayer Heres who had also worked in Zaire and had originally introduced Biya to Sivan.[24]Cameroun : Paul Biya sous protection israélienne

Israeli Soltam mortars have been used by the Cameroonian army in the north of the country against Boko Haram.[25]New-model African armies

Human Rights Violations

The main source of human rights violations in Cameroon is the BIR. It was founded in 2001 to tackle criminal groups, and was used in the fight against Boko Haram in the north of the country.[26]Youtube- Boko Haram: on patrol with Cameroon’s elite Israeli-trained forces The unit has used brutal torture on a mass scale against individuals accused of association with Boko Haram based on very little evidence. These human rights violations have in cases amounted to war crimes.[27]Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture Over 270,000 Cameroonians have been displaced as a result of the conflict with Boko Haram since 2014.[28]Cameroon- Events of 2019 In July 2022, Amnesty International called on the Cameroonian authorities to “ensure that human rights defenders are able to work free of intimidation and reprisals” as they document and report on human rights violations and abuses in Anglophone regions of Cameroon– where the armed forces are increasingly clashing with armed separatist groups.[29]Cameroon: End threats against activists who exposed violations and abuses in Anglophone regions

Additionally, since 2016 the BIR has been deployed in the south to quash protests from the marginalised Anglophonic population. The unit has conducted pogroms raiding and destroying property, using live ammunition against protesters, arbitrarily arresting and brutally torturing activists, raping students, and murdering civilians.[30]Burning Cameroon: Images you’re not meant to see There has been evidence of extrajudicial killings of women and children by possible BIR soldiers.[31]Cameroon: Trial of soldiers for killing women and children must lead to justice for victims In June 2019, 780,000 children were out of school due to the ongoing displacement crisis. Regions were turned into de facto military zones with draconian measures such as three months of blocked internet access. As of June 2019 more than 450,000 people had been displaced in the region since 2016.[32]The world’s most neglected displacement crises  In July 2022, Cameroon announced the opening of an investigation into the killing of 9 people in the Missong village on June 1, 2022, which Human Rights Watch (HRW) described as “an important first step in ensuring accountability around the alleged murder of civilians by government forces.”[33]Cameroon: Military Killings Inquiry A Positive Step

The Cameroonian government has also limited freedom of expression and has used force to prevent political opposition groups like the Cameroon Resistance Movement (MRC) and demonstrations have been met with excessive and indiscriminate force.[34]Cameroon- Events of 2019 As of July 2022, Cameroon continues to enforce its colonial-era sodomy laws– namely, section  347 of its penal code, which punishes sexual relations between individuals of the same sex (even through digital communication) and has also been interpreted to convict and incarcerate transgender people for gender non-conformity.[35]Progress and Setbacks on LGBT Rights in Africa — An Overview of the Last Year

References
1 Israel-Cameroon Relations – Embassy of Israel in Cameroon
2 Israel in Africa: Security, Migration, Interstate Politics (2020) by Yotam Gidron
3 Israel Exports to Cameroon
4 Israeli aid on way to fight Ebola spread
5 Israel in Africa: Cameroon
6 Israel supports Cameroon to stem COVID-19- Embassy of Israel in Cameroon
7 Countries that Recognize Palestine 2022
8 Israel looking after President Biya’s security with elite forces
9 Ex-IDF Top Officer Dies in Cameroon Helicopter Crash
10 Cameroon – Israel: Eran Moas, a ‘consultant’ to Cameroon’s special forces
11 Israel supports Cameroon’s dictatorship
12 Isreali Lawyers Call for Ban of Arm Export to Cameroon
13 Cameroon’s Presidential Guard first known user of Israel Musketeer vehicle
14 Youtube- ARROW 8, au cœur d’un RAID anti Boko Haram
15 Making a killing: Israeli mercenaries in Cameroon
16 Isreali Lawyers Call for Ban of Arm Export to Cameroon
17 New-model African armies
18 Burning Cameroon: Images you’re not meant to see
19 On the border and in the crossfire: Cameroon’s war with Boko Haram
20 SIPRI Background Paper- ISRAELI ARMS TRANSFERS TO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
21 Ex-IDF Top Officer Dies in Cameroon Helicopter Crash
22 Duvdevan Unit- IDF Brigades
23 L’Israélien qui protégeait Biya
24 Cameroun : Paul Biya sous protection israélienne
25 New-model African armies
26 Youtube- Boko Haram: on patrol with Cameroon’s elite Israeli-trained forces
27 Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture
28 Cameroon- Events of 2019
29 Cameroon: End threats against activists who exposed violations and abuses in Anglophone regions
30 Burning Cameroon: Images you’re not meant to see
31 Cameroon: Trial of soldiers for killing women and children must lead to justice for victims
32 The world’s most neglected displacement crises
33 Cameroon: Military Killings Inquiry A Positive Step
34 Cameroon- Events of 2019
35 Progress and Setbacks on LGBT Rights in Africa — An Overview of the Last Year