The Eagle’s Nest in the Horn of Africa: US Military Strategic Deployment in Djibouti

Degang Sun, Yahia H. Zoubir


Djibouti is the only country in the world in which US, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese military forces are stationed simultaneously; China will soon have a presence there as well. The US military deployment in Djibouti has shifted from a soft military presence to an arrangement of significant strategic import, and from a small outpost to a large garrison in the past two decades. The internal dynamics of the US deployment are geopolitical, as the US presence facilitates the carrying out of its strategies regarding antiterrorism, anti-proliferation, the protection of energy investments, and anti-piracy. The external dynamics of the US deployment are geo-economic: the government of Djibouti, as the host nation, reaps economic windfalls from the US presence in this strategically located country. Given that the United States has failed since 2008 to persuade any country on the continent to host AFRICOM, the base in Djibouti is likely to remain the only one in East Africa. Djibouti may be part of a pattern whereby some small African nations, such as São Tomé and Príncipe, collect revenue through the provision of military bases to big powers.

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