Djibouti may likely find itself at the center of growing tension between Beijing and Washington.
By Ali Musa,
With the arrival of the new US President, fiercely opposed to China, Djibouti risks being caught between the two great world supper power. The current sinophile position of President Ismail Omar Guelleh could in this context of tension jeopardize good relations with Washington and permanently jeopardize the stability of the country.
“I do not want China to tell me what to do, and I do not see why we should be linked to the policy of a single China.”
In declaring these words on the American Fox television last December, President-elect Donald Trump put an end to forty years of American diplomatic policy. And opened a new chapter in the history of Sino-American relations: an era of mistrust and tension.
Considered a dictatorship and accused of acting unilaterally in its trading relations, Beijing has long been designated as “enemy” of the United States by Donald Trump. The newly elected President intends to give priority to American interests and seems to draw the outlines of a new form of cold war.
The only US military base in Africa, Djibouti may well find itself at the center of tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Donald Trump has already expressed reservations about the relevance of the military alliances negotiated by his predecessors and the maintenance of a US military presence on foreign soil.
Pete Hoekstra, a strategic adviser to his transition team, criticized the military relations between the small Horn of Africa and the Asian giant, denouncing the unbridled nepotism of the Djiboutian leader to the detriment of a global strategy of struggle Against security threats in the region.
What impact for the Djibouti economy?
As a historic partner in Djibouti, the United States alone contributes over $ 70 million per year, including development assistance. President IOG, today in his fourth term as head of the country following a constitutional reform, nevertheless began to turn their backs on them to get closer to China.
A clientele that is worth today in Beijing to have passed Washington by becoming the first trading partner of Djibouti. Obviously oblivious to the tensions he is subjected to, Guelleh expressed himself: “China has the right to defend its interests like everyone else.”
The Djiboutian government ordered the US authorities to evacuate their military base, despite massive investments in the Port of Obock, a project that had mobilized alone US $14 million directly from the pockets of Washington .
At the same time, China is strengthening its presence by posting more than 10,000 troops on a permanent basis.
The result of this sinophilia of the President of Djibouti is for the time being that the United States is considering leaving the country permanently to settle in Senegal.
Deprived of the American military presence and facing the decline of its relations with France, Djibouti would then be entirely handed over to the Chinese power, determined to consolidate its presence on the African continent.
There is no doubt, then, that this sinophilia will end up completing the economic and diplomatic relations between Djibouti and Washington. But is Beijing willing to take on the role of two great powers? By leaving the country behind China, IOG condemns its economy to be placed under an artificial respirator from a single source.
China’s takeover of the Djiboutian economy also poses a risk in the event of a recession of the Chinese giant.
The closure of the US market and of those countries that will align with the Washington line could plunge China into a period of economic turmoil and force it to slow down production due to lack of opportunities.
What will happen when Beijing cut investment in Djibouti infrastructure?