A constellation of Israeli firms, businessmen and consultants with a long-standing foothold in Africa are leveraging their connections to local corridors of power, to indirectly serve the interests of their country. This brand of back-channel diplomacy is thriving – and thoroughly devoid of transparency.
This is part 2 of a 4-part series
One drink after another is poured behind the bar that runs the length of the restaurant. A cocktail bartender handles the shakers like a pro, drawing patrons’ eyes towards him. A few bottles of stronger stuff await their new owner in a bucket brimming with ice that won’t take long to melt.
On this evening, the city’s nightlife delivers for the VIP, affluent customers of The Famous, the trendiest restaurant and bar in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé. It takes the form of the amber hue of whisky and the bubbly flavour of champagne.
In the heart of the upper-class neighbourhood of Bastos, The Famous has become a favourite watering hole among Yaoundé’s wealthy set. Retired footballer Samuel Eto’o was recently spotted partying there alongside FIFA head Gianni Infantino. Singers like Charlotte Dipanda and Lady Ponce have performed there, not to mention the rapper Gims and the late musician Wes Madiko.
Amid the crowd of African and international celebrities, one in particular catches our eye: Eran Moas. The bar’s most frequent clientele easily recognise the face of the adviser to the Rapid Intervention Battalion (Battalion d’intervention rapide – BIR), Cameroon’s special forces unit.
This past 3 November, the Israeli national, who has been living in the central African country for 23 years, celebrated his 45th birthday at The Famous in the company of his closest friends. The festive atmosphere lends a decidedly unguarded air to President Paul Biya’s shadowy elite forces trainer. He feels at home, and with good reason: he is.