Djibouti will 'not allow US to attack Ethiopia' from bases on its soil
Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf tweeted that the US will not be allowed to strike Ethiopia from its military bases inside the country, following reports that Washington was considering using one of its bases there to strike targets in Ethiopia.
"Gen. William Zana the Com.of the camp Lemonier gave an interview to the BBC explaining how the American forces in Djibouti were carrying out a mission of fighting terrorism and the protection of their nationals in the unlikely event of evacuation", he tweeted.
"Some expressed the concern about Djibouti’s territory being used for hostile intervention in the neighbouring countries. That is not going to happen for The Djiboutian Government is attached to its relations with its neighbours," he added.
He assured that "Djibouti appreciates its strategic partnership with the United States" but that "this partnership is not oriented against any country whatsoever".
Djibouti appreciates its strategic partnership with the United States and for sure this partnership is not oriented against any country whatsover .— Mahmoud Ali youssouf (@ymahmoudali) November 14, 2021
The series of tweets come after Somali-language BBC quoted the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, General William L. Zana, expressed concern that the security situation in Ethiopia may spill over to destabilise the rest of East Africa.
"The deteriorating security situation in Ethiopia will negatively affect the stability of the Horn of Africa. If the conflicts continue in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian forces could withdraw from southern Somalia, which has a strength of about 5,000 soldiers and works within the African peacekeeping forces, which may provide the extremist groups with an opportunity to expand their influence," he said.
Zana added that the primary role of US forces in Djibouti is to respond to the demands of American diplomats in the Horn of Africa region.
He stressed that US forces were ready to intervene in Ethiopia if the situation worsens, including evacuating US nationals if needed.
Camp Lemonnier, the US base in Djibouti has been used as a launchpad for US air and drone strikes on targets and strongholds of the Islamic State group and Al-Shabab militants in southern and northeastern Somalia since 2008.
It is expected that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will begin his first visit to the Horn of Africa next week, with the aim of backing the US envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman.
Since November last year, Ethiopia has been embroiled in conflict when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed troops in Tigray, with the operation spiralling into a prolonged war marked by massacres, mass rapes and a humanitarian crisis.
Ahmed claims the operation was in response to attacks on army camps by the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TLPF), the regional ruling party which dominated national politics for three decades before he took office.
He vowed a swift victory, but by late June the rebels had regrouped and retaken most of Tigray, including Mekele, and fighting spread to the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar.