THE United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), losing confidence in a shared space in Djibouti, is bearing the brunt of the friction between the country and its rival superpower, China.
The tensions are prevailing in the tiny country on the Horn of Africa, which is among the poorest in the world but has emerged as an influential country in global politics by its hosting of military bases.
Djibouti hosts China’s only foreign military base and the United States’ biggest such facility in foreign lands but recent friction indicates that if America is to maintain stronger position, it must find an alternative location for its Africa base.
The upheaval comes on the back of the Asian nation expanding its footprint, and influence, in Africa. China has in recent years deepened its military ties with Africa through training programmes and increasing weapon sales. It is the second-biggest weapons supplier to sub-Saharan Africa (after Russia). China also is the third-biggest arms provider to North Africa, after Russia and the US.
The expansion is in line with China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR).
OBOR, according to China, a global development strategy involving infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
China opened its military base in Djibouti in 2017. China calls the naval facility a support base but months after its opening, it was conducting live fire exercises.