The military also must assess Djibouti’s Chinese-held public debt, which the NDAA warns could be used as economic coercion. A concern cited by lawmakers is that if Beijing takes commercial control of the Port of Djibouti in debt repayment, it could curtail access by the U.S. military.
Relations between the two neighbouring countries have been rocky for months in the wake of the maritime dispute, involving tit-for-tat diplomatic moves and retaliation.
In May, Somali diplomats were banned from attending an international conference in Nairobi. In return, all NGOs operating in Somalia but based in Nairobi were ordered by Mogadishu to either relocate to Somalia or cease all operations completely.
Tibor Nagy: Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs
Pleased to welcome Eritrea delegation led by Minister Saleh to Washington. Eritrea has a vital role in expanding peace, security, and prosperity in the Horn of Africa. Ongoing regional reforms can bring stability and opportunity to the people of Eritrea and beyond.
The Port of Bizerte is now caught in the middle of an ongoing US/China rivalry, with President Donald Trump reasserting US geopolitical leadership against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aggressive Belt and Road Initiative, which has seen China expand to strategically sensitive areas such as Djibouti on the Horn of Africa and the Port of Piraeus in Nato member Greece.