Gulf Crisis: What’s the Problem on Eritrea’s Border With Djibouti?

By Newsweek

The diplomatic crisis, which has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia and its allies, is threatening to revive a bloody border dispute in a historically troublesome corner of Africa.

The frontier separating Eritrea and Djibouti—countries that have both sided with Riyadh and others in ostracizing Qatar—has become a flashpoint in recent days after Qatari peacekeepers pulled out without any notice last week.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have accused Qatar of funding and supporting Islamist groups—including the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)—and of supporting Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main enemy in the region. Several African and Arab states have followed suit, though some—such as Somalia—have refused to take sides in the standoff.

Two tiny countries with little international weight, Eritrea and Djibouti are viewed very differently in the West. Eritrea is seen as a pariah state, with no free media; the U.N. has accused its government of committing crimes against humanity against its people. Djibouti, however, is a strategic ally and the site of the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa. Both countries lie close to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, an important international shipping channel.

The conflict between the two countries centers on a remote area, Ras Doumeira, the status of which has been a matter of dispute for decades. Tensions first flared up in 1996, when the two countries almost went to war after a Djiboutian official claimed that Eritrea had shelled Ras Doumeira; the matter de-escalated after Eritrea withdrew troops from the area, according to a 2008 paper by the Institute for Security Studies, an African think tank.

But 12 years later, the two sides did descend into fighting, albeit briefly. Djibouti accused Eritrea of digging trenches at Ras Doumeira and of stationing troops in its territory. The conflict erupted in June 2008: According to Djibouti, it was triggered when several Eritrean soldiers deserted into Djiboutian territory and failed to return. The number of dead on both sides was unclear, but the U.S. blamed Eritrea for starting the conflict, accusing it of “military aggression.” France also backed Djibouti in the conflict, providing medical, logistical and intelligence support.”

The fighting died down after several days, but tensions rumbled on. The U.N. Security Council said in 2009 that Eritrea had failed to withdraw its troops from the disputed area. And in 2010, Qatar entered the fray, offering to mediate a peaceful solution to the conflict, which was accepted by both sides.

Since the 2010 mediation, 450 Qatari forces have been stationed along the border to provide a buffer zone between the two countries. But that changed last week, when the Gulf state abruptly pulled its troops from the border zone with no explanation. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf said that Qatar had “decided to withdraw” from the mediation and that his country had informed the international community.

In a statement Saturday, Eritrea’s information ministry said that it had “not to date obtained any information on the withdrawal” from Qatar. But the Eritrean government noted that the “hasty decision” had been taken “against the backdrop of a turbulent climate,” a nod to the diplomatic standoff in the Gulf.

Djibouti says that Eritrea has swooped in to occupy Ras Doumeira following the Qatari pullout. Djibouti’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohammed Idriss Farah, told the AP that Eritrean forces had “moved in right after the peacekeepers left” and occupied the mountainous region. Djibouti lodged a complaint with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations received correspondence from both sides.

Eritrea has not publicly reacted to Djibouti’s claims, but previously said it wanted to resolve the dispute peacefully. “We don’t want to take any of Djibouti’s land,” Araya Desta, Eritrea’s top diplomat to the African Union, told the AP Wednesday. “The last time we had some skirmishes. It was unnecessary.”

The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, appealed for “calm and restraint” in the dispute, in a statement issued Saturday. The AU said it had deployed a fact-finding mission to the border and was ready to promote the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Stay Informed:

Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending

Trump seeking $54B increase in defense spending, cuts elsewhere

US Military Spending


Cancer and Cannabis

(How to) Dark Web

(How to) Beat Stingray

Big Pharma and You

Autism in American public schools

How to Find out who's a Snitch

Police Tactics and How to Beat them

How to Verify what is real and how to spot a fake

How to Beat any drug test

Buy Marijuana Online

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons

Cops Are Corrupt (by city/state)

US Military atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo far worse than Nazi Germany

LEAK College Textbook downloads

Afghan Heroin & the CIA

Heroin Do's and Don'ts

Streetwalker Do's and Don'ts

Military Nudes Uncensored 


Popular posts from this blog

10 Facts about the Syrian conflict you won't hear on the main stream media

Better than Backpage

Declassified Documents: Obama Ordered CIA To Train ISIS