Manual Naval Strategy East of Suez: The Role of Djibouti

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However, this has led to ongoing territorial disputes with Puntland, a semi-autonomous part of Somalia, which claims that the contested regions of Sool and Sanaag should belong to it, rather than Somaliland, on the basis of kinship ties rather than colonial-era divides. If Somaliland volunteered to join with its much larger neighbor to the south in , the idea goes, its leaders can also decide to opt out.

In the post-colonial era, Somalia came under the rule of Gen. Barre quickly aligned himself with the Soviet Union. It was during this era of socialist rule in Somalia from to that Berbera gained its contemporary significance as a place where outsiders seek to project power in the Horn of Africa. In , the Soviet Union was the first major power to arrive in Somali-controlled Berbera. The Soviets constructed the largest airstrip in Africa at the time, just next to the port.

In the s, Soviet troops ran military operations out of Berbera. But Somali-Soviet ties were short lived. President Ronald Reagan subsequently embraced the dictator. Somaliland suffered terribly in the late s under a U. The threat of international piracy off the Somali coast brought the Horn of Africa back into the international spotlight in the early s.

Since then, the United States has played a significant role, which seems set to expand. He rose up through the African diaspora of Buffalo, home to a significant number of Somali refugees who had escaped the war. He refined his leadership at the New York State Department of Transportation, where he worked as the commissioner for equal employment. Farmajo is also a registered Republicanβ€”a particularly complex position for a Somali dual national in the era of U.

President Donald Trump. When Stephen Schwartz, the first U. Makau W. Mutua, a Kenyan-American professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law who knew Farmajo, told FP that though people were proud when he became the ninth president of Somalia, his political affiliation in the United States did not go unnoticed.

Base race in the Horn of Africa

Hundreds of people have been killed, including militants and civilians, with displacement becoming an increasing problem. But the violence in Somalia is just one example a trend in the wider Horn of Africa, which has become one of the most militarized areas of the world in the past decade. The UAE had originally planned to build a port in Djibouti. When the deal fell apart, it moved down the coast to Somaliland. Djibouti, despite the UAE pullback, remains another crucible.

A former French colony the size of New Jersey with a population less than ,, it is home to the only permanent U.

For Djibouti, It's All About Location

Africa Command. Africom was established as a stand-alone command in , at a time when the U. Under former U. The installation now houses around 4, American military personnel and includes a well-appointed gym and a Pizza Hut. The base has become a vital cog in the machinery of U. From this camp, the United States has launched countless drone flights into Somalia and Yemen. But the United States is far from alone. China has also eyed Djibouti as a vital strategic outpost for projecting its power across Africa and the Middle East.

Beijing has also invested heavily in infrastructure projects in Djibouti as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese are also behind plans for Djibouti to transform itself into the Dubai of the Horn of Africa.

China in Djibouti: The Power of Ports – The Diplomat

In response to growing Chinese influence, even Japan, which is renowned for its reluctance to project military power, has also put a footprint in Djibouti. In November , the Japanese Defense Ministry announced plans to expand its base for range of missions beyond anti-piracy operations. In early , the Djiboutian government signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia that would allow the Gulf state to build a base in the country.

The French have a naval base there, and troops from Germany and Spain have also established a presence. Djibouti and Somaliland have predicated their development models on attracting powerful foreign militaries. As the region continues to emerge as a site of competition for both regional players such as the UAE and Qatar and global powers such as China, Japan, and the United States, this is a strategy that risks embroiling the region in dangerous international rivalries.


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In the summer, temperatures in Berbera can reach up to degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the women and children who live there move uphill into the Sheikh Mountains to escape the summer heat. As major powers continue to flex their muscles in the region, there may be no way to avoid being caught up in their power struggles. Shire himself is not overly worried about a conflict emerging anytime soon. But with an aggrieved government in Mogadishu looking on and regional players trying to outmaneuver one another across the Horn of Africa, Somaliland is not in the clear.

Why Do So Many Countries Have Military Bases In Djibouti?

Ismail Einashe is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow for Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola. The United Nations and foreign powers claim they are dedicated to building up the Somali National Army. By doing this, China not only aims at strategic penetration but also to build an image as a strong but benevolent power.

Thus, one can see its soft power on display, while beneath it is a long-term strategic design. With a view to establishing its strategic footprint, China has built a container terminal at Colombo Harbor. India cannot overlook the strategic dimension of Gwadar, because Pakistan has granted China year rights to operate the port. China would lose no time in converting the posts it has developed in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar into military facilities to increase its strategic leverage over potential competitors. India needs to respond by building its own strong naval capabilities and expanding its maritime space in the Indian Ocean and beyond so that peace and tranquility, as well as unimpeded commerce, are maintained.

The annual bilateral naval exercises with Australia and trilateral naval drills with Japan and the US should send a message to China that its adventurism at sea will be met with equal, appropriate responses when the situation warrants. China began building the base in February , with the declared aim of using it to resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coast of Yemen and Somalia, in particular.

It makes sense that there is attention on this from foreign public opinion. In addition to worrying India, the Chinese military base in Djibouti poses very significant operational security concerns for the US. It is just one among many Chinese projects in Djibouti. There are similar investments across the continent.

These stoke concerns for the US.

by Koburger, Charles W., Jr

For the past few years, China has been deploying its submarines, warships and tankers in the Indian Ocean on the pretext of anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. India has tracked Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean since In , the US Defense Department confirmed this as well.

It is baffling what role submarines could play against pirates and their dhows, so Chinese explanations for their presence fall short. This has led to countries such as India, Australia, Japan and Vietnam sharing a common view of the situation and considering informal alliances to bolster regional security. The urgency of such an initiative became greater after the unpredictable Donald Trump moved into the White House, raising doubts in Asia about the US commitment to regional security.

The larger number of naval warships that took part in the recently concluded India-Japan-US trilateral Malabar naval exercises may be seen as a sign of enhanced preparedness. However, the contrary is the case. An estimated one million Chinese nationals are spread over the African continent, with many employed in China-backed infrastructure projects.

We are likely to witness a situation that recalls the days of the old European colonial rulers as China seems destined to strangle the economies of poor African nations through economic handouts and selling projects in the name of economic development, thereby taking total control of their economies. The military base in Djibouti is just the latest chapter in this developing narrative. E-mail: rajaram. Goodman and Gerald Segal, eds. Most Read. How Deep Is It? Co-operative Security 2.

General: info globalasia.