Djibouti Finalising Deal for Saudi Military Base

The one power that has been barred from building a base in that country is Russia.

Saudi Military Base in Djibouti
Djibouti’s foreign minister said his country is finalising an agreement to allow the establishment of a Saudi Military Base with Riyadh.

By John Aglionby and Simeon Kerr | for Financial Times

Djibouti is finalising an agreement with Saudi Arabia to allow the Gulf state to build a military base in the Horn of Africa nation as Riyadh takes a more assertive approach to regional security.

Djibouti, a Muslim nation that is strategically located on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, already hosts US and French military facilities. The first Chinese base outside of China is also under construction and due to open this year, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti’s foreign minister told the Financial Times.



Saudi Arabia signed a security agreement with the government last year and followed up with a judicial co-operation accord this month as part of its preparations for a base, Mr Youssouf said.

Riyadh is leading a coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, which lies across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Saudi Arabia backs forces loyal to Yemen’s exiled government, which control Aden and other parts of southern Yemen.

“We’re going to sign a military co-operation agreement soon in Riyadh,” Mr Youssouf said in an interview. “I cannot give you the details because this is military stuff and is classified. But you will see when it will happen.”

Saudi officials were not available for comment.

Riyadh’s closer ties with Djibouti coincide with attempts by the kingdom to bring fellow Sunni nations into a grand alliance to project power and rely less on western military backing. Saudi Arabia is also seeking to counter what it regards as Iranian interference in conflicts in the Arab world from Syria to Yemen.

king Salman
Djibouti leader and king Salman

The US uses Djibouti as a base for its Africa headquarters and its regional anti-terror operations. In addition to its garrison of 4,000 personnel, Washington’s facilities include drone ports.

Beijing has said little about its base, other than that it will be a logistics supply facility and have the capacity to house 10,000 troops. The one power that has been barred from building a base in the country is Russia because Djibouti did not want to “become the terrain for a proxy war”, Mr Youssouf said.

“We just felt that the time of having a Russian presence in Djibouti was not appropriate because of what was going on in Syria and Ukraine and other places,” he said. “We felt that conflicting interests could really rise up here in Djibouti . . . and we said, ‘OK, we don’t want to have two superpowers in this country that could be face to face in a conflicting situation’.”

The world’s superpowers are competing for global influence in this tiny, impoverished country in the Horn of Africa.

Foreign governments are drawn to Djibouti, which also borders Somalia, a country blighted by years of conflict and Islamist attacks, because it is safe, Mr Youssouf said. “No pirates, no terrorists, no ambitious countries coming to attack us, a small country.”

It is also tightly controlled, with opposition groups and human rights organisations criticising the level of repression and lack of basic freedoms.

Mr Youssouf said the “military forces are in Djibouti to fight piracy” to make the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, a vital waterway that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, “safer.”

“These forces are present to fight terrorism in Yemen and Somalia, to avoid that these terrorists go and blow themselves up in New York or Berlin or London,” Mr Youssouf said.

The United Arab Emirates, which has also focused on developing greater military capacity and is a key ally in Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen, has enhanced its reach with a base in Eritrea.

The base near Assab, a Red Sea port, hosts attack helicopters, fast jets, drones and naval vessels, according to satellite imagery analysis.

The influence of Houthi rebels over the Bab el-Mandeb strait has raised concerns for the safety of shipping routes. A UAE vessel was badly damaged in October and failed attacks on US naval vessels prompted the US to destroy radar stations on the Yemeni coast.


  • FYI

    Sudan Receives $400m Deposit from UAE

    (January 23, 2017) – The United Arab Emirates has agreed to provide the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) with a $400 million deposit, announced the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) on Monday.

    In a statement released on its website the ADFD said the deposit of AED1.47 billion aims to “secure increased liquidity and stimulate economic growth in Sudan”

    The agreement was signed by ADFD Director General Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi and CBoS Governor Hazim Abdel-Gadir Ahmed Babiker.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony Al-Suwaidi said UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan directed to offer this deposit “to enhance mutual collaboration and underpin the Sudanese government’s efforts to overcome economic challenges.”

    For his part, Babiker expressed his deepest appreciation for the UAE’s wise leadership and praised the people of the UAE for their unwavering support to the Sudanese.

    The statement didn’t indicate the duration of the deposit.

    President Omer al-Bashir paid several visits to Abu Dhabi since last year, following Khartoum’s decision to shift away from Teheran, in a bid to improve bilateral relations with oil rich country.

    The Emirati deposit comes alongside Qatari and Saudi efforts to support the Sudanese economy hit by the American sanctions during the nearly past 20 years.

    https://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article61472

    • Meaza

      Now tell me how much do you think Eritrea got so far, though unannounced, if Sudan can only get this much by being a “good friend” only.

      Eritrea is not only a good friend to UAE but the landlord of its gigantic military facility as well and for that I will leave the guess work to pundits who can actually guess the annual rent price for such strategic military base.

      • sahle

        Meaza why do we need to work on speculations?…as a matter of fact, though, as you said, the GOE didn’t announce, for sure the Emiratis would have and would like to let the people know that they’ve given this much to Eritrea…but we haven’t seen any so far from both…

      • hailemike .

        Meaza, how mush do you think Eritrea got from the Israeli base in Dahlak, and the Iranian one in Asseb too.
        May be ‘Stratfor (Strategic Forcasting Inc)’ or any Wein could give an answer to you !

  • (Courtesy of OTTOANGY)

    Russia has been barred from having a base in that impoverished land because of possible tensions with the Americans hosted over there. That being the case I don’t see why the same treatment should not be applied to the Chinese given the worrying deterioration in the relationship between the US and Bedjing. A Chinese base with the capacity to host 10000 personnel could be something of some relevance given the limited size of that poor country. It doesn’t seem overly logical actually.

    • Ebay-Asmara

      The US has China, in many ways, in its pocket. Putin, on the other hand, is a clear challenge, they’ve difficulty in handling him.

      • Kaleab B

        I think the other away around – China got US within its reach. Any move against China can destabilize the market in the US. I can’t say about Russia.

      • Lalmba

        Yap! China has so many economic interest with the US, it usually chooses to look the other way when the sole bully, US, abuses some peaceful and usually small Third World countries, while Russia could challenge US, not because of bleeding heart toward the Third World country, but because it has been frustrated by the US on many occasions.

        • Kaleab B

          Things are rarely as simple as they seem. If you look deeper, you will find that NoBama has squeezed Russia so hard that the Russian economy is in life support. Russia is not challenging the US as it can’t at all, but it is merely fighting for its life — keep whatever left open. So far Russian actions been all about survival.

          In a way, Trump may be a God sent for Russia, though only if he removes the sanctions NoBama put on along with EU, and Australia.

      • Salaam Shalom

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/24/developer-welfare-trumps-infrastructure-plan/

        Please read in the above link what Michael Hudson had to say about Trump,China and Russia

    • zewab

      Definately right.what the djiboutian minster said was not a logical reasoning at all.DJ is no longer an independent state having all those military powers on its land.even it will have lasting negative consequences for the region.as you pointed out a fierce competition between beijing and washington is brewing for some time now and will continue to escalate specially with the rise of donald trump.so the headless DJ leadership should take a lesson from eritrean government on how to deal with foreign policy particularly when you take such decisions that hugely impact the security and national interest of a nation.

  • FYI

    Trump, Sissi Discuss Fighting Terrorism in Phone Call

    https://twitter.com/VOANews/status/823718528578703360

  • B.Adal

    Woyane expelled South Sudan ambassador to Ethiopia — Good Breaking News.

    • The Last Warlord

      The Ethiopian foreign ministry and south sudanese government has denied those ‘distorted’ news designed to create rift between the two countries…

    • Sentek

      IQ, please don’t be a victim of fake news even if we are living in Trumps era. Are you people sending people for AU meetings or what btw? I hear Khat is cheap these days, we got you covered.

  • Sentek

    God bless Djibouti indeed, no one expected this much in the 90’s with all the civil war that took lives. Today, it stands ready to help the horn assist peace and stability. Not to mention the economic gains that comes along with major superpowers making a play for it. The only one missing is Turkey in Berbera and regional stability is no longer In doubt for the Horn. May God bring the peace soon to Yemen and Somali bring us wise leaders to start the journey.

    • adulite

      Why should God bless crooked Djibouti, a nation which is a military camp? Never trust the Arab Salafist. When Eritrea had a territorial dispute with Yemen, the Arabs were barking towards us like mad dogs. Isn’t Djibouti one of the failed nations that pushed sanction on Eritrea?

      • Lalmba

        Yes, but Sentek ትሰንጠቕ ኣዲኡ፡ doesn’t care about Eritrea’s well-being. On the contrary, it is miserable clan that pushed the illegal and unjust sanctions against our country! Don’t you ever forget that my brother.

    • B.Adal

      IQ63, To continue your discussion on the regional stability 🙂 … what is the status of the $948,000,000 Begging request for the Woyane made Hungry Ethiopians? Have you received response from anyone? Egypt, like last time might ship 1 Million worth of food to your mama Ethiopia.

    • ኣሌክ – Alec you

      God bless u say?! Hmmmm LOL… Where is the **Arab this and that or the Arabs are coming mantra of yours?!😂😂 or that’s only for ERITRA?! Haha Ala Ugumesh tigebra😂

      But when Eritrea did it, u ppl go bananas😂. U see my loco neighbor ***JEALOUSY** is ur problem. Even ur leaders said to UAE .. And I quote==>>
      TPLF: “We’re better off having the UAE investing in Berbera port than in Eritrea” Sad. But the thing is Wedi habath eigra– in the end jealousy can destroy u. it has already begun to consume u don’t even realize it yet how devastating the result can be for tiny-Tigray in the future — sandwiched in all direction by everyone that hates them to the core. 😏

    • Hizbawi

      Turkey you say, funny. I guess you want the horn of Africa to be ruled by the Ottoman sultanate. See what happens when you are blinded by greed and no values to guide you. Turkey is creating havoc in Syria. Do you even realize what is going on in Europe and Middle East? Do you even know why hundred thousand Ethiopians got kick out from Saudi Arabia?

  • merhaba

    Interesting article .I really don’t understand the Djibouti government ,It sames to me the very tiny country is all Continent play ground ,Seriously in Djibouti have five to six nation are parking as a base on the top now Saudi Arabia.This country (the government )Has no children education ,No public health care ,the kids they beg out side the street until 1;00am in the morning and the country only chat chewing tiny Djibouti.the percolation 5,00000 3.00000 people foreigner so my point is to add another on the ground is madness.

    • Lalmba

      This midget ‘country’ is ruled by Gulleh and Yousuf (FM) who were born in Ethiopia and are slaves to anyone with money just like those monkeys who are abusing in Ethiopia.

      • merhaba

        I totally agree with you ,they are from Harer Direi sons .You are 100% right my brother.

  • atheist

    Djibouti is a complete whore, that why so many countries want her.

  • Kaleab B

    LOL.