Before I go into more detail about this post….my reader needs to get up to speed on the country known as Djibouti……
The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas became Djibouti in 1977. Hassan Gouled APTIDON installed an authoritarian one-party state and proceeded to serve as president until 1999. Unrest among the Afar minority during the 1990s led to a civil war that ended in 2001 with a peace accord between Afar rebels and the Somali Issa-dominated government. In 1999, Djibouti’s first multiparty presidential election resulted in the election of Ismail Omar GUELLEH as president; he was reelected to a second term in 2005 and extended his tenure in office via a constitutional amendment, which allowed him to serve a third term in 2011 and begin a fourth term in 2016. Djibouti occupies a strategic geographic location at the intersection of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and serves as an important shipping portal for goods entering and leaving the east African highlands and transshipments between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The government holds longstanding ties to France, which maintains a significant military presence in the country, and has strong ties with the US. Djibouti hosts several thousand members of US armed services at US-run Camp Lemonnier.
I give my reader this geography lesson because of the situation in Djibouti……it is home to more foreign military units than any other place in the world…..
The US has a single full-scale military base in all of Africa: It’s in Djibouti, and we have more than a few neighbors there. Politico takes a look at the small country in the Horn of Africa (it’s the size of New Hampshire) and the continually expanding military presence there. It hosts more foreign bases than anywhere else in world, a fact Politico attributes to its strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea, where it sees “a large percentage of the trade and energy flows between Europe and Asia.” France set up shop there first; Italy and Britain have a presence, per the New York Times; China and Japan have but one foreign base each, and it’s there. Saudi Arabia is coming, and there are whispers that Turkey, Russia, and India could, too. If we get to that point, Bruno Maçães writes that every big global power will have a presence there, and that raises some big questions for him.
Here’s one: What happens if two major players—say, China and India—go to war, and just happen to have bases near one another? Here’s another: Would a country ever decide to avoid full-scale war but launch an attack on a rival’s Djibouti base? As a member of Djibouti’s intelligence service tells Maçães, “World War III will start here.” Quartz also floats the idea that the situation could imperil Djibouti itself. It has increasingly welcomed foreign militaries under current President Ismael Omar Guelleh, who flung open the country’s doors post-9/11 in exchange for hefty fees (the US pays $63 million a year). But the head of a think tank that’s focused on the region warns that “the Horn of Africa and the Middle East are currently rough neighborhoods, and Djibouti may find itself making enemies, not through any action of its own, but as a consequence of the actions of its military guests.”
I have written about the expanding military in Djibouti before……
You have been warning that I am an opinionated SOB……nothing has changed.