Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Djibouti to ask AU to resolve border row with Eritrea

(Middle East Online )- ADDIS ABABA - Djibouti will turn to the African Union to help it resolve a long-running border dispute with Eritrea, the Horn of Africa nation's foreign minister said on Monday.

Qatari troops who patrolled the tense frontier pulled out last month after both Djibouti and Eritrea sided with Saudi Arabia when it severed ties with Doha over its alleged ties to Islamic extremists.

Djibouti's Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said that after Qatari troops left the disputed Doumeira region, Eritrean soldiers moved in but left the next day, elevating tensions between the two countries and leading the AU and UN to call for restraint.

  "As long as this border is not demarcated, it will remain a source of tension ... in the future," Youssouf said on the sidelines of the AU summit at the body's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital.

"We would like the African Union to step in, to ensure this border is demarcated and delineated once and for all."
Eritrea and Djibouti squabbled over Doumeira -- a piece of land jutting into the Red Sea -- in 1996 and 1999 before a violent clash in 2008 led Qatar to mediate a peace deal and deploy soldiers two years later.

Djibouti has said it would prefer "diplomatic solutions" to the current dispute, but would not exclude "military solutions."

The neighbours have very different relations with the outside world.

Djibouti has become host to several foreign military bases, including one belonging to China that is under construction.

It has also configured its ports to serve as a lifeline for landlocked East African nations, including Eritrea's archnemesis Ethiopia.

Eritrea on the other hand has attracted little foreign investment and been sanctioned by the UN and the United States, leading some to regard it as a pariah state.