*** This is a Google translate version of the original Midan article ***
It is not uncommon for foreign ministers in particular to take away the masks of diplomatic diplomacy even in their closed sessions. But Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Yusuf, decided to take off his full diplomatic robe in his six-page letter addressed to his ambassadors last month on the backdrop of the sudden rapprochement between the two neighbors The two arch-foes of his country, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
From the first moment, it was clear that Djibouti is a small -olospab understanding totally – worried unprecedented convergence is expected, so the foreign minister chose to express his government ‘s concern quite directly terms and without the slightest of the usual diplomatic Mohrb, describing (1) in The new Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abe Ahmed, as a “hasty and reckless” person and using his country’s status as a non-permanent member of the Security Council to ensure the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea without considering the possible impact of such a move on Djibouti, Two lost contracts.
For as long as Eritrea is known in diplomatic circles as North Korea for Africa, a country that could have been calling him (2) until recently as an enemy of everyone without controversy . Unlike the long – term conflict waged with Ethiopia ahead of the long independence by the early nineties, leaving large as a neighbor , a landlocked Without any ports on the sea, otherwise Eritrea has entered the beginning of the decade in a border dispute with its small neighbor, Djibouti, also after the Eritrean forces deployed their forces in the Triangle Demira to the border of Djibouti, which led to the outbreak of limited battles and the crisis was resolved only with Doha Intervention The two countries, and the conclusion of an agreement for reconciliation to ensure the deployment of national troops on the border between them, and since then Eritrea has provided refuge and support for the opponents of the government in Djibouti, an armed faction , most notably shows known as the “Army of fear.”
And on the basis of joint hostility with Eritrea, despite the underlying historical problems between them as well, pushing Ethiopia ‘s position geopolitical shaky after the secession of Eritrea, push it into the arms of its small neighbor, concluded a protocol (3) military cooperation with Djibouti in 1999, and since then has become a neighbor Ethiopia’s only port to the sea, where Addis Ababa relied on the port of Djibouti in dealing with a share of 95% of its imports, while Djibouti relied on the largest neighbor in access to fresh water and electricity.
The relationship of interdependence has been steadfast for two decades, fueled by the realities of geography and political realities, at the heart of which are the troubled relations of Addis Ababa with Eritrea and Somalia, a disturbance that has strengthened Djibouti’s position as the sole breath of Ethiopia on the sea before changing the rise of Abu Ahmed and his efforts to reconcile with Eritrea and Somalia, from that stable dynamism, are changing the balance of things upside down, a shift that Djibouti does not see as being led by Abu Ahmed alone, but sees a regional power behind it as an attempt to reshape alliances in the Horn of Africa to suit its interests. State of the United Arab Emirates Dah.”
The UAE had its share of discontent also in the message of the Foreign Minister of Djibouti, which broke all the rules of diplomacy. The minister was keen to express his concern about the UAE’s intervention to reshape the region, describing the Gulf state as the military and financial wing of the new US administration strategy. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, has pledged billions of dollars in deposits to Ethiopia in return for extending the roots of an unfamiliar friendship with Eritrea in a deal Djibouti sees as being engineered primarily by the UAE not only to promote its own interests, Defiance in the face of Djibouti by the dispute raging between the two countries since 2015 on a number of the most important of the UAE’s controversial role in the port of Djibouti vital management files.
The Rise and Fall of Djibouti
With it being free from rivers that can support agriculture, and poor at the same time in all recoverable minerals state, does not produce (4) Djibouti little can be put on the economy and global trade map, so the country ‘s vital site was always the most valuable resource with her It owns the keys to the southern gate of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.
At the same time, Djibouti’s small geography has been chosen for a privileged position near the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which controls about 8-10% of the world’s oil trade. At least 20,000 ships pass through the port of Djibouti every year. Region: In Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, Djibouti’s investment in the construction of advanced facilities and the relative political stability of the country made it more attractive in terms of investment than its competitors throughout the region.
Otherwise, for more than two decades, Djibouti and its government, led by President Ismail Omar Guelleh, have long been distracted by the benefits that a privileged geographical location can bring, benefits not only for the country’s economy but for the survival of a tightly controlled political system , So he decided early to open his small country to the foreign military presence for money and protection, turning his country into a military forum for the armies of East and West wishing to pay money for the acquisition of military facilities and bases, starting from the former occupier of Djibouti, “France”, which owns The base bears the name “Francis Francis Jeep Which is France’s most important base on the continent, has a remarkable impact on Djibouti’s domestic economy in the form of rents, subsidies and various operating expenses.
It seems that the lure of power and money boost “cold blood” to not only military presence French, taking advantage of the United States need to impose a military presence in Africa during the war on Iraq, to introduce (5) hosting US forces in the camp “to Lemonier” near the Djibouti International Airport, where The deployment of 900 US troops to the base in 2002 before the rise of the US presence in the base gradually to 4,500 troops, to eventually host the headquarters of the US military headquarters in Africa, known as “AFRICOM,” as well as its tasks in monitoring the airspace and sea to several African countries, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya Yemen, Eritrea and Djibouti itself.
It seems that the game of hosting the armies continued the temptation of “Guilla”, which began in 2009 to host a base of the Japanese Navy of about 400 soldiers and another base of the Italian army, two armies rarely have a military presence outside their borders, and agreed with Saudi Arabia to host the base Was to be the first military base of the Gulf state outside its borders.
The diversion of the country’s land to a world-wide mercenary theater was a game carefully designed by Gila to create a delicate balance between many potential security sponsors. Unlike the balance game behind various military rents, the financial gains of the Djiboutian authorities against the rent of major foreign bases were not The French government pays about $ 30 million a year for its military base there. Japan’s military base is worth $ 33 million a year, while the United States pays $ 63 million. As well as other economic benefits to the operation of these bases and the hosting of soldiers and the movement of air and ports, which is several times that figure.
In 2015, however, the game of Ghaila began to anger Western sponsors, led by Washington, with the tendency to extract costly rents from as many foreign armies as possible, regardless of the conflicting military interests of these forces. His most controversial move was to allow a military base Chinese just kilometers away from the US base, opened in August / August of last year, a military base saw her Washington , the culmination of the ambitions of China ‘s military expansion in Asia and Africa on the one hand, and the relationship growing between Beijing and Djibouti on the other hand, where funded (6) China projects Development of 14 billion du R in the country for the development of road networks, improve ports and airports Djiboutian experiencing great conflict because of the busiest in the coastal countries in the region such as Yemen and Somalia, as well as to build six new ports other than actors Djiboutian ports at the moment.
As time passed, concern in Washington was growing at the rapid pace of China’s economic influence on the continent turning into a military presence. In Djibouti in particular, Washington was concerned that the presence of the Chinese base would affect only six miles from the military base US to US security interests , including covert operations in Somalia and Yemen, especially with the fall of the government of Djibouti in the debt trap (7) Chinese, and the arrival of public debt to 88% of GDP, which is the religion of China has the lion ‘s share of it and gives it the lever on the decisions Economic and political system ” Night “.
In fact, it seems that Djibouti succeeded in raising Washington’s concerns early on when, in August 2015, the government asked the United States to evacuate the port and facilities it controls in the coastal city of Obok, after the United States invested about $ 14 million to upgrade the quayside In 2009, the Djibouti government’s demand for US withdrawal to grant the port to the Chinese army, which began construction of facilities there since 2006, as well as signing an agreement allowing China to use the port until 2026.
Djibouti’s open-door maneuver with China was also a calculated gamble from President Guelleh, who seemed willing to get rid of dependence on the United States and the West, or at least gain a margin of maneuver with a force that does not care about traditional Westerners on human rights issues. “Seems to have gone too far to the point that Washington tried to use its diplomatic influence to prevent the election of” Gila “for a fourth term in the 2016 election, in an attempt to raise a more sensible and compatible Djibouti leader in US interests.
But, in the usual way, Gheila ultimately won the relations between his country and the West at a crossroads. Paradoxically, this turbulence in relations between Washington and the small country bordering the Bab al-Mandab Straits coincided with the Saudi-Emirati intervention in Yemen in early 2015 , Which ultimately brought the Gulf States with all their equipment to the arena of competition in the Horn of Africa.
The United Arab Emirates, in particular, was an initiative to join the sea dominance race. Having consolidated its military presence in Aden and the ports of Yemen, Abu Dhabi sought to militarize the economic activities of DP World in the Horn of Africa, the most important of which is the Djiboutian container terminal, Dubai has a 33 per cent stake and a long-term contract to operate the plant for 50 years, signed in 2006.
In the wake of the Saudi-Saudi invasion of Yemen, 8 the UAE submitted a request to Djibouti to establish a military base to follow up the situation in Aden. A request was rejected in Djibouti, which merely granted Saudi and Emirati forces the right to use a small military facility in the Haramos area near the US- But this was not enough to meet the aspirations of the UAE whose military aircraft entered landing permits at Djibouti airports more than once, resulting in diplomatic clashes reached the extent of the clash of hands between the commander of Djibouti forces and the Deputy Consul General of Djibouti in one occasion at.
discounted offers, including an offer by the UAE to Ethiopia to use a port in Somaliland at very low fees, leading to a widening dispute over the integrity of Dubai Ports’ operation of the main container terminal In Djibouti, especially with the accusation of “Gila” to the UAE to facilitate the deal through financial bribes to a former government official called “Abdul Rahman Buri,” an opponent of the system, “Gila” and the current resident in the UAE and as a result broke the crisis inherent in the relations between Djibouti and the UAE around the port of containers, And gradually increased to reach y And with the Djibouti Tha return control of the station of “Dubai Ports” World last February.
At a time when relations between Djibouti and the UAE seemed to be on the decline, Abu Dhabi was looking for an alternative foothold for hegemony in the Horn of Africa. In an unmistakable direction, the UAE chose to go to Eritrea, Djibouti’s historic rival, Signed a contract signed by Dubai Ports World to develop the Red Sea port of Assab, before the United Arab Emirates embarked on the establishment of a military infrastructure, the first military base outside its borders around the port, to deploy a squadron of Mirage 2000 aircraft Made, or aircraft The Air Force’s C-17 and C-130, as well as a large ground unit the size of an armored battalion equipped with French Liqueur tanks as well as training facilities for the militias employed by the UAE in Yemen and elsewhere.
In the capital, Asmara, the UAE has developed the dilapidated airport to be able to receive Apache helicopters from the UAE Joint Aviation Command, as well as the Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters owned by the UAE Presidential Guard. Carried out assault missions over the “Bab al-Mandab Strait” from “Asab”. The new pilots of the Yemeni air force were also trained in Assab before being transferred to Al-Anad base.Eritrea also sent 400 troops to support the UAE forces in Aden. In return, the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped modernize the electricity grid in Eritrea and provided oil and financial assistance, but the UAE vision was not limited to using Eritrea as a base for operations. But primarily aimed at rehabilitating one of the most isolated systems around the world and turning it into a kiss for the aspiring powers in the region. The key to that rehabilitation was simply in neighboring Ethiopia.
During the Cold War and through the 1990s, Ethiopia’s relations with the Gulf States were poor. The 9 Habash leaders believed that these countries consistently supported Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia against them. As a result, Eritrea’s emerging relationship with Abu Dhabi naturally generated a frightening reaction Addis Ababa urged Ethiopian officials to travel to the UAE capital for talks, and although the first dialogues between the two sides appeared to be rigidly clear, Abu Dhabi and the Discelin government soon reached a way to work after the UAE pledged not to encourage any efforts from Eritrea or even Cairo to undermine Addis Ababa, Including The Non – Aligned fully to Egypt regarding the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the shares of the Nile water file.
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Above is Google translate. Click above for the original Arabic version of the story.