Tension In The Persian Gulf As Eritrea And Djibouti Boundary Dispute Escalates

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enThis is an unexpected consequence of the crisis in the Persian Gulf. The withdrawal of Qatari troops from the border between Djibouti and Eritrea has rekindled tension between the two neighbors of the Horn of Africa. The African Union will send a delegation to Asmara.

Djibouti’s appeal to the African Union (AU) was heard. On the second and final day of the AU summit, on Tuesday, 4 July, African Heads of State decided to send a delegation of representatives to Eritrea. Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh had pleaded in Addis Ababa for a quick intervention, reports La Nation:

He wanted the Union to take charge of the matter so that there could be a rapid de-escalation of the tension arising from the once warlike attitude of Asmara. ”

The Djibouti daily denounces the attitude of the Eritrean neighbor: “The president recalled that since the withdrawal of Qatari intervention troops, Eritrea had violated the status quo ante by approaching the conflict zone, Namely the Ras Doumeira and the island of Doumeira, which, as everyone knows, belong to the Republic of Djibouti and which Asmara claims in a senseless way. ”

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This 125-kilometer border, demarcated by the French and Italian colonizers at the beginning of the 20th century, has been the subject of a dispute for two decades. “The first time this problem was raised was in 1996 when Djibouti accused Eritrea of ​​making a map of the country including part of the Djiboutian territory,” recalls the Pan-African site Pambazuka News.

A crisis-ridden region

In April 2008, an incursion of Eritrean troops into the strategic promontory of the Ras Doumeira area revived the tension. But an agreement was signed between the two countries in June 2010, under the aegis of Qatar.

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“While progress has been made through mediation efforts – such as the release of Djiboutian prisoners of war in 2016 – there has been surprisingly little progress in demarcating the common border,” said Awate.

The site of the Eritrean opposition in exile regrets the withdrawal of Qatar in mid-June, provoked by the crisis between the latter and Saudi Arabia, of which Eritrea and Djibouti are allies: “The last thing in the region Needs, it is an increased militarization. “He lists the ongoing civil wars in Yemen and South Sudan and the instability in Somalia. “When Saudi Arabia and its allies broke off their diplomatic relations in June, the fate of Ras Doumeira was probably not at the heart of their complex geostrategic calculations,” notes the Ethiopian newspaper The Reporter, before continuing:

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Yet, on this stretch of land in the harsh climate of the Horn of Africa, the current Gulf crisis threatens to destroy a decade long peace. ”

In the event of renewed hostilities between Eritrea, considered a pariah state, and Djibouti, the host country for several foreign military bases, the daily newspaper of Addis Ababa fears an economic impact for Ethiopia, whose access To the sea depends on Djibouti.

But also for the rest of the world: “This disputed border is arid and remote but strategic, overlooking the Straits of Bab El-Mandeb, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. More than 10,000 boats take this strait every year, carrying tens of billions of dollars worth of goods, including 4% of the world’s oil supply. ”

SEBASTIEN HERVIEU

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