US turns up the screws on Ismail Omar Guelleh

U.S. voiced concern over the construction of a Chinese military base in Djibouti

US turns up the screws on Ismail Omar Guelleh

IOG and mattis

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh (2nd R) welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (2nd L) at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti April 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

April 28, 2017 – Apart from a meeting on April 22 between U.S. defence secretary James Mattis and president Ismail Omar Guelleh, during which Mattis voiced concern over the construction of a Chinese military base in Djibouti, some in the White House are airing misgivings over Washington continuing to work with Guelleh’s government. In early April, a Republican senator from California who is close to Donald Trump and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dana Rohrabacher, sent a letter to secretary of state Rex Tillerson asking him to put pressure on the administration to see that it take action against Guelleh. He maintained that the presence of a Chinese base in Djibouti had a negative impact on American counter-terrorism operations from the U.S. base at Camp Lemmonier. In February, 2016, he already warned the secretary of state at the time, John Kerry, about the situation in Djibouti. At present, the U.S. is worried about political stability resulting from the fight to succeed Guelleh.
Source: ION, April 28, 2017
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Japan won’t let Bab-el-Mandeb go to the Chinese

January 13, 2017 – At a symposium on Japan’s defence policy organized by the Institut de Recherche Strategique de l’Ecole Militaire in Paris on Jan. 6, Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada spoke of her country’s intention of to establish a semi-permanent military base in Djibouti. While she did not mention the Chinese presence in Djibouti, she assured the French military of her ambition to strengthen the Japanese presence there. Already, in October, Tokyo announced it wanted to extend its existing base (covering 12 hectares with r a staff of 180 soldiers). The Japanese forces are planning to deploy C-130 cargo aircraft from Lockheed Martin , as well as armoured vehicles, but also more soldiers. “China is investing in new infrastructure in Djibouti and is increasing its presence there, so it is necessary for Japan to acquire more influence,” said an official Japanese source.
Source: ION, January 13, 2017
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

China-US cold war in Red Sea

IOG and general Mattis

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh, right, welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, third left, U.S. Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser and U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Mark Boulware, left, at the Presidential Palace in Ambouli, Djibouti, Sunday April 23, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

September 16, 2016 – Electrified by Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea, tensions between China and the United States have now spread to the Red Sea. To be sure, Beijing is working hard to cement its presence in the region and expand its control from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Bab-el-Bandeb. All this at the expense of the Americans.

Enter Chinese secret services

The Indian Ocean Newsletter can reveal that since late August, the Guoanbu, the Chinese ministry for State security, has installed around thirty agents, including a dozen women, in Doraleh. Their role is primarily to keep an eye on the Chinese expat community in the region – a Chinese accountant recently fled to Uganda with a computer file of prominent people who had benefited from the largesse of Chinese companies – they also have the task of surveillance of the US base at Camp Lemonnier as well as its suppliers and consumption of kerosene. Last May, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, had already prompted US forces to leave the Obock region to make way for the Chinese military engineers building their country´s naval base. He also asked them to dismantle the telecoms and surveillance equipment they had deployed as part of their counter-terrorism operations.

The US State Department accepted this order without condition. But now, some US congressmen are going on the attack in response to certain American officials who see this as resignation.

The US counter offensive

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry dated 5 August – of which The Indian Ocean Newsletter has obtained a copy – Lou Barletta, the Republican Congressman and Chairman of Economic Development Subcommittee, requested that US authorities do not issue a visa to Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh (IOG), in order to prevent him speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York from 13 to 20 September. Lou Barletta reproaches IOG not only because he is close to Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, but also for being an ” authoritarian leader ” under the influence of Beijing who had no qualms about authorising the Chinese to build a military base just after the visit by John Kerry to Djibouti.

According to Barletta, “there is no question that they [the Chinese] will continue to cheat and undermine our economy, which is why China’s entrance in Djibouti is particularly concerning”. There is nothing new in Republic fears of Chinese presence in Djibouti. John Kerry was questioned in February by the Senators for California and New Jersey, Dana Rohrabacher and Chris Smith. Both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, they are worried about the negative impact of Chinese military presence on American counter-terrorism activity in the Middle East.

The Democratic senator for New Mexico and member of the congressional military services committee, Martin Heinrich for his part favours appeasing Ismail Omar Guelleh. He commended Djibouti for its support to US troops involved in fighting terrorism and piracy.

A statement that fell while a still confidential UN investigation suggests that Djibouti is a hub for smuggling weapons to the Houthi Yemeni rebels. These very rebels are under attack by countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, which are themselves supported by the United States!
Source: ION, September 16, 2016
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

Chinese offer Russia a corner of their base

July 15, 2016 – A new iron curtain is being drawn across Djibouti. Beijing is building its own military enclave, just a stone’s throw from the US military base.

While President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh wants to turn Djibouti into an African Singapore, Beijing is placing another pawn on the board of the game of go it is playing against the United States in Djibouti. On 4 June, while they were at the 15thShangri-la Dialogue Asia Security Summit in Singapore, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Chinese Central Commission, Admiral Sun Xienko, met the Russian Deputy Minister for Defence, Anatoly Antonov, to sign an agreement for military and anti-terrorist cooperation. This alliance is timely for Moscow. Although Moscow sent military advisors to Doraleh in May, President IOG once again refused it permission to set up a military base. Note that the Djibouti President is under strong pressure from the US, which has its own base at Camp Lemonnier and takes a dim view of having its only base in Africa juxtapose a Russian base. On the other hand, Beijing takes no stock in American protests. It already has an agreement with Djibouti which excludes any interference by the Djibouti government into its military movements. It is therefore planning to allow the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kouznetsov land at its base in Obock.

This is a god sent opportunity for Moscow, which is keen to have an African port at its disposal so that it could deploy its vessel to Syria at short notice during the summer. According to our sources, the Chinese base will have no difficulty in handling the Russian aircraft carrier, because two mega quays have been built there – one of which stretches 460 metres into the sea – so that Chinese nuclear 001A aircraft carriers can land there. The pawns are gradually being placed in Djibouti for this global game.
Source: ION, July 15, 2016
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

US Senators denounce Chinese influence

IOG and Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh shake hands as they greet each other at the Presidential Palace, Wednesday, May 6, 2015, in Dijbouti, Dijbouti. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

March 18, 2016 – The Republican senators for California and New Jersey, Dana Rohrabacher and Chris Smith, both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a warning on February 4 to the Secretary of State John Kerry and the Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter about the situation in Djibouti. They are particularly worried about the Chinese military presence there (ION 1420), which in their view will have a negative impact on American counter terrorism operations from the US base at Camp Lemonnier. As was disclosed in our pages, last May the Djibouti Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, had requested the US forces to leave the Obock region where China is building a marine base. Furthermore, the two US senators deplore the fact that their country has to deal with President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh whom they see as a “life president” whose actions are “anti-democratic”.

Moreover, they denounce the level of corruption in Djibouti which has obliged US energy companies to abandon their plans to invest there, the market going to Chinese concerns. This situation harks back to the Black Rhino case.
Source: ION, March 18, 2016
© Copyrights 2016 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

China ousts Americans from Obock

May 29, 2015 – Djibouti has officially asked the United States to leave their military installations at Obock. “The Indian Ocean Newsletter” carries out an exclusive investigation.

The Djibouti Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, is everywhere at the same time. While he is still trying to find a way out of the diplomatic crisis with the United Arab Emirates by calling on the services of Saudi Arabia, he also has to deal with American anger following President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh’s announcement on 9 May that negotiations were under way with China for it to set up a naval base in Djibouti. President IOG was at the American Hospital of Paris for a series of tests, so on 20 May he left his foreign minister with the awkward task of revealing to American diplomats and servicemen that the time had come to prepare for China’s arrival. Mahamoud Ali Youssouf therefore invited the American forces to leave the Obock region where the Chinese will build their naval base.

The Americans had no possibility of contesting the decision since the Djibouti president was unavailable, so they had no choice but to comply. They are currently transporting to Camp Lemonnier all the telecoms and surveillance equipment that they had deployed to carry out close monitoring of the Bab-el-Mandeb straits.

The Indian Ocean Newsletter has learnt from inside sources that the Chinese base should ultimately house 10,000 men, for an annual rent of $100 million. In comparison, the Africom (United States Africa Command) operations centre houses 4,000 servicemen for an annual rent of $63 million. While Obock does not benefit from Camp Lemonnier’s close access to airport infrastructure, as from 2016 China will be able to use Airport Ahmed Dini (officially a civilian airport) that China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is building not far from the Sept Freres islands. IOG and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet in December to officially seal the deal for the Chinese base.
Source: ION, May 29, 2015
© Copyrights 2015 Indigo Publications All Rights Reserved

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