Creeping Paranoia in Djiboutian Diplomatic Circle

In a missive addressed to his ambassadors which The Indian Ocean Newsletter has obtained a copy of, the Djiboutian foreign minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf has expressed himself in very undiplomatic terms, reflecting the anxiety of the Djiboutian authorities in the face of the current rapprochement between Addis Ababa and Asmara. The minister is of the view that the Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali is guilty of ‘reckless haste‘ and is using his country’s status as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to secure the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea, without giving due thought to the negative impact this may have on Djibouti…

After this diatribe against the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the policies of the Ethiopian prime minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf goes on to express his concern at ‘the interference and meddling of the United Arab Emirates in this reconfiguring of alliances in the sub-region‘. He describes this Gulf state as ‘the armed wing and bankroller of the strategy of the new US administration‘ and claims that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MbZ), has pledged ‘billions of dollars in deposits and investments‘ in exchange for Ethiopia extending the hand of friendship to Asmara.

He then seizes the opportunity to criticise the Frud arme, ‘hosted and supported by Eritrea‘, a country which will soon be seeing Ethiopian businesses setting up shop and operating out of the port of Assab rather than the port of Djibouti. He therefore recommends ‘a clear and unambiguous statement to Ethiopia of our position and our displeasure‘.

The end of this memo reads almost like a threat to Ethiopia, ‘this country [which] has not yet left its turbulent times behind‘ and where ‘the risk of implosion is not to be underestimated […] given[the forthcoming] operations to harness the oil and gas resources of the Ogaden‘.


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