The most pernicious sea in Africa’s history may well be the Red Sea. This thin line of water has been deemed to be more relevant for defining where Africa ends than all the evidence of geology, geography, history and culture.” – Ali Mazrui The Africans: A Triple Heritage
- 1) Introduction:
Djibouti is a small Horn African nation with less than a million 949,119(2020) Population1). It got its Independence from France in 1977. Yet it is the most geostrategically important +located piece of land in the Horn of Africa region(HOA). Being so close to Yemen and Arabian Peninsula, only 25 nautical miles from Yemen and so close to the Bab El Mandep straits on the Red Sea(also Bab el-Mandeb, Bab al-Mandab – eds.aka Arabic name (Gate of Tears) which is the entrance of the Red Sea the north and Gulf of Aden to the south and key trading route between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
“ it is home to the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa, at Camp Lemonnier, the home of U.S. Africa Command. Africom was established as a stand-alone command in 2008, at a time when the U.S. government was focused on fighting insurgent groups and terrorists in Africa and elsewhere. It is also home to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, which was set up after 9/11 and tasked with preventing violent extremist organizations in East Africa from posing a threat to the United States” 2)
Since June 5th, Djibouti has experienced violent demonstrations because of the supposedly arrest, and imprisonment of a Djiboutian Ex- air force officer who a walled from his military post as a officer and escaped to Ethiopia for political asylum as he claims. These Anti-government protests erupted throughout #Djibouti not only because of the arrest of undisciplined a walling soldier but there was a hidden and underlying political Agenda for creating the chaos and eventual attempt for regime change to a small but geostrategically important country like Djibouti .
Interior minister described the protest as “Unauthorized” & no one is above law” Moumin Ahmed Sheikh warned against further demos noting that it had resulted in property damages and public insecurities in the small nation-state which houses over 7 foreign Military & Naval bases.
- 2) Regime Change Plans and Political Crisis in Djibouti
Like Somalia, Djibouti has witnessed and felt enormous amounts UAE political hush money$ 170 million finding its way in the poor small nation through the local opposition parties and anti-government actors; since Djibouti Govt. cancelled its contract with DP world in February 2018 with Djibouti’s decision to nationalize the Doraleh Port, which was run by the UAE-based company DP World since 2009. Following a 30-year agreement in 2006 between Djibouti and DP World, the company was supposed to operate the port at a maximum capacity. However, the Djibouti administration realized that the Doraleh Port has been operating with less than %50 of its full capacity. The Djibouti government thus argued that DP World’s main motivation to keep Doraleh container terminal (port) at the lowest capacity was to sustain the maximum level of activity at the Dubai port, the leading location of maritime transport in the region3). The Djibouti government also felt that UAE was using the deal in order to handicap and prevent the genuine development of Doraleh port instead it is a strategic game of overshadowing all red sea ports while shinning its Dubai ports globally which was in contrast to the true and honest letter of the contract in 2009.
Djiboutian government sees these protests as a proxy game by United Arab Emirates which has encouraged local opposition parties in creating and fermenting violent protests among the marginalized and indigent population of Djibouti city; specially within Pres. Ghelle’s Essa clan in the suburbs and sub-urbanites.
- 3 ) DP(Dubai ports) world as UAE’s Foreign Policy Asset & Tool
The United Arab Emirates has been busy taking control of all Red Sea ports on (both banks ).At the same time, employing DP world as a financial and business projects thus enticing commercial contracts from poor, under-development and war-torn horn of Africa and Red sea nations with vast amounts of money both legally (investments) and illegally through DP world and proxy’s. although ‘The Emirates insists that DP World is a private enterprise, but its activities in the region move in lockstep with the country’s strategic interests.’ 4)
Thus The Emirates uses DP World both as a global commercial entity and an asset and tool of its Foreign policy specially towards in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and Red Sea region since 2001.
Since 2001(post 9/11) the United Arab Emirates embarked in playing the Geostrategical role of “Trojan Horse “ for Anglo-American corporate empire in the Middle East , Horn of Africa and strategically Maritime routes of the Red Sea & Gulf of Aden. Where it is now actively and continuously employing DP world in unsascvory, fake & unsustainable commercial projects with countries on Red sea and the entire HOA Red Sea and Gulf of Aden coastline. It is has already destroyed, balkanized using military means and local proxy’s in Yemen, sudan, Somalia and in pursuit for Djibouti and Ethiopia.
- 4) UAE’s imperial Goepolitical strategy of Balkanization Fragmentation and Control of HOA, & Red Sea ccounteries in concert with western Empire
The Emirates Geostratigical for controlling the all HOA ports on the Red sea and the Gulf of Aden has been on the making since 9/11 and was political, ideological, logistically, diplomatically and militarily(tech.,) supported by both US and Europe specially UK, France, Germany, as well as Israel in enabling and encouraging to push and undertake these Geostratical goals via DP World.
The UAE has long been accused of attempting to annex the Yemeni island of Socotra to secure what it perceives to be its geopolitical interests in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, which it did by encouraging, founding and politically supporting the separation of southern Yemen from the Houthi held north. It already has military and naval bases in Djibouti, Eritrea and Somaliland. Further, understanding that Emirati policy in the Red Sea and the Horn follows the logic of empire helps us better confront some of the drivers of disastrous state fragmentation in the region.
As Rohan Advani wrote, the Emirates DP World is a large MN conglomerate- logistics & Port facilities that functions both as business enterprises and UAE’s Foreign Policy Powerhouse.
The Emirates are using DP World as an instrument of their Imperial Geostrategic policy economically and politically in the HOA and Red Sea regions specially against week fragmented and war-torn countries of the region with full western empire support logistically, militarily, diplomatically and politically.
“It is clear that there are deepening tensions between the UAE and two strategic players in the Horn of Africa, namely Somalia and Djibouti. It can be said that there are three major reasons for that. First of all, the UAE does not respect the national sovereignty of these countries and prioritizes its interests even if they contradict with these countries’ national sovereignty. The second reason is related to the nature of the UAE activities in the region. The Somalia and Djibouti governments are not comfortable with the UAE-sponsored ports and military bases, mainly because of their long-term negative impacts on these countries. The final reason is that there are a number of emerging international actors such as Turkey, Russia and China, which have developed good relations with Somalia and Djibouti. This has caused them to reconsider their relations with aggressive actors in the region such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.” 5).
In Conclusion, The UAE using DP world is projecting imperial power in the Horn of Africa regions and Red Sea costal countries, by stealthily supporting local proxy’s and unsustainable commercial projects in order to regime change , balkanize, and fragment weak, under-developed and poverty stricken countries who have experienced extended civil wars and inter-tribal resources competition.
“A close look at its operations in the Horn of Africa reveals the ways that a government can exert control through a modern state-chartered company. A closer look at the operations of DP World also casts light on a key driver of disastrous state fragmentation in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.”6)
- Country Meters https://countrymeters.info/en/Djibouti(accessed july6, 2020)
- For Somaliland and Djibouti, will new friends bring Benefits? By Matt Kennard & Ismail Einanshe march 19, 2019.https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/03/19/somaliland-somalia-horn-of-africa-djibouti-military-oil-uae-qatar-berbera-port/(acceseds July 11, 2020)
- From cooperation to conflict: The Deepening Crisis with Somalia and Djibouti. By Isamail Numan Telci, april 26, 2018. https://politicstoday.org/from-cooperation-to-conflict-the-uaes-deepening-crisis-with-somalia-and-djibouti/
- Constructing Commercial Empire: The United Arab Emirates in the Red Sea and The Horn by Rohan Advani , TCF; December 9, 2019.https://tcf.org/content/report/constructing-commercial-empire-united-arab-emirates-red-sea-horn/?agreed=1&agreed=1 (accessed july 23, 2020)
- From Cooperation to Conflict : The Deepening Crisis with Somalia and Djibouti . By Isamail Numan Telci, April 26, 2018. https://politicstoday.org/from-cooperation-to-conflict-the-uaes-deepening-crisis-with-somalia-and-djibouti/
- The Politics of Ports in the Horn : War, Peace and Red Sea Rivalries by David Styan. https://africanarguments.org/2018/07/18/politics-ports-horn-war-peace-red-sea-rivalries/(accessed july 6,2020)
- https://africanarguments.org/2018/07/09/thin-red-line-red-sea/(accessed july 7,2020)
By: Prof.Dr. Bischara Ali EGAL,
Executive Director, Researcher
The Horn of Africa Center for Strategic and international Studies (Horncsis.org)
N.B: the articale has already appeared at https://www.academia.edu/43707450/The_Emirate_Hybrid_Warfare_and_Regime_Change_Plans_against_Djibouti_By_Dr_Bischara_A_EGAL_July_7th_2020