Indian President Ram Nath Kovind leaves for Africa on his first foreign visit as president on October 3. His first port of call will be Djibouti, which occupies a strategic location in the Horn of Africa, adjacent to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to the Suez Canal and an important global shipping corridor.
In recent years, Djibouti has assumed significance for hosting multiple foreign military bases on its territory, including an important American base, used for counter-terrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia. The latest entrant has been China, which opened its first overseas base in August 2017. It will reportedly be used as a supply centre for China’s peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations. Saudi Arabia, too is currently negotiating to open a base, which will be utilised for supporting its military campaign in Yemen.
Djibouti earns millions of dollars in rent from hosting these bases while the Chinese one and that proposed by Saudi Arabia are accompanied by multi-billion dollar investments too. Interestingly, the country recently turned down a proposal from Russia for establishing a base.
This infographic illustrates Djibouti’s ‘military base’ diplomacy.
Sameer Patil is Fellow, National Security Studies, and Director, Centre for International Security, Gateway House
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