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Djibouti-Eritrea border clashes, as Qatar troops pull-out
July 2, 2017, 1:28 pm

Djibouti accused neighboring Eritrea on Friday of occupying disputed territory along their border after Qatar withdrew its peacekeepers.

Djibouti and Eritrea share a disputed border area where clashes broke out in 2008, after Djibouti accused Eritrea of moving troops across the border. A dozen Djiboutian troops were killed and dozens wounded after several days of fighting. The United Nations Security Council intervened and requested both countries to withdraw from the area. In 2010, Djibouti and Eritrea accepted mediation by Qatar and agreed to station a Qatari peace-keeping force along their contentious border.

On June 14, Qatar unilaterally announced that it was pulling out its 450-strong peace-keeping contingent, after the two East African countries joined ranks with Saudi Arabia and its allies involved in a diplomatic standoff with Qatar. The foreign ministry in Doha did not give any reason for the pull-out.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has intervened in the territorial dispute and called for calm and restraint from both sides. It said that a “fact-finding mission” would be sent to the area to establish the facts, while its Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat would be available to both countries to help “normalize their relations and promote good-neighborliness.”

Foreign Minister of Djibouti Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said his country’s army was on full alert and that complaints had been lodged against Eritrea with the United Nations and the African Union. Eritrea has not yet responded to any of these statements.

Djibouti is a close ally of the West as it hosts French and US military bases and is the main route to the sea for Eritrea’s arch enemy, Ethiopia. On the other hand, Eritrea has fractious ties with the West and has been accused of supporting Somali and other regional insurgents, which it denies.

According to the Council on Foreign relations, as of May 2015, there were nine UN peacekeeping missions in Africa supported by more than 80,000 troops and 15,000 civilians. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of all UN peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, with the largest missions being in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Darfur, which is jointly administered with the AU, in South Sudan and in Mali.


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