Djibouti: Horn of Africa’s next domino?

Djibouti

At least three people are dead following an outbreak of inter-communal violence in Djibouti on Aug. 1. Fighting erupted in several areas between members of the Afar ethnic group, which straddles Djibouti’s borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Issa, the country’s other main ethnicity, which is a sub-group of the Somali people and straddles the borders with Ethiopia and Somalia. Issa protesters blocked the rail line and road connecting Djibouti’s port to Ethiopia, a key artery for the landlocked Horn of Africa giant. The violence came in response to a deadly attack on Somali Issa civilians four days earlier within Ethiopia. Militia fighters from Ethiopia’s Afar region raided the town of Gedamaytu (also known as Gabraiisa) in neighboring Somali region, reportedly killing hundreds of residents. The two regions have long been at odds over three contested kebeles (districts) on their shared border, which are predominately inhabited by Issa but located within the regional boundaries of Afar. (Garowe Online, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, ReliefWeb)

The violence in Djibouti comes days after the US Navy convened 15-nation military maneuvers in the country’s waters, ostensibly designed to help East African nations in fighting piracy, drug trafficking and illegal fishing. The two-week Cutlass Express 2021exercise includes maritime forces from Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and Seychelles as well as India and the United Kingdom. (Stars & Stripes)

Map: ISS Africa