As the UN Security Council, Arab League and African Union urge Eritrea to halt military action against neighboring Djibouti, French officers stationed in the Horn of Africa mini-state say that France is providing Djibouti with military support—and preparing to send more troops and war material. Speaking to the official Agence Djiboutienne d’Information (ADI), a French officer identified as Col. Ducret said French forces are “providing assistance in logistics, medical [and] intelligence service to the Djiboutian army.”
The French Defense Ministry, which already has a large military base in Djibouti, says it is developing plans to establish mobile military bases close to the Eritrean border, which would hold back an advance by Eritrean forces.
France already has a large military base in Djibouti, and Paris’ government was among the first to condemn the Eritrean aggression against Djibouti. Only the US State Department’s condemnation of Eritrea was clearer. A State Department spokesperson referred to the border conflict as an Eritrean “military aggression.” The US Africa Command also has a large military presence in Djibouti.
Fighting over the Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island has left several dead and dozens wounded over the past three days, according to a statement read June 12 at the Security Council by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the US, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month. “The Security Council calls upon the parties to commit to a ceasefire and urges both parties, in particular Eritrea, to show maximum restraint and withdraw forces to the status-quo ante,” the statement said.
The Arab League June 13 urged Eritrea to withdraw its forces from border areas near Djibouti “immediately” and to respect Djibouti’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Eritrea has rejected a fact-finding mission proposed by the League, which was to find ways to ease tension. (Djibouti is an Arab League member; Eritrea is not—see BBC Profile.)
Eritrea’s Foreign Ministry has issued a press release calling the massive condemnation of its military action “baseless and mendacious statements.” When accusations of an incursion surfaced last month, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki told Reuters: “It’s a fabrication…We decline the invitation to go into another crisis in the region.”