The African Union is calling for calm as border tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea intensify. The rising threat of unrest is further fallout from the diplomatic crisis embroiling Qatar.A decades-long border dispute in the Doumeira region that, on occasion, had turned violent, was dampened in 2010 when the two sides agreed to let Qatar mediate. Since then, 450 Qatari forces have been maintaining a buffer zone between the two sides – until they up and left last week.
Qatar offered no explanation for the move, though it comes amid a diplomatic dispute with other Arab nations, most notably the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which have cut diplomatic ties and are now trying to isolate Qatar from the rest of the world. Saudi Arabia and its allies allege that Qatar supports Islamist extremists, a charge the small gulf nation denies.
Both Djibouti and Eritrea have good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and have taken their side in the Gulf row.
Djibouti says that, in the absence of Qatari soldiers, Eritrea has once again occupied the disputed territory, and hints that military clashes are not out of the question.
Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf warned that Djibouti's military were "on alert" and said the nation has lodged complaints to the UN and the African Union (AU). The AU urged restraint and said it would send a fact-finding mission to the disputed border.
It’s possible that the disputed Doumeira region won’t be the only place where the troubles with Qatar will be felt.
"The Qataris are involved in a number of fields outside their immediate region,” H.A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, told FRANCE 24. “Many of those pressuring Qatar via these various measures are as well – and many times, they interact. There are probably very many arenas like the Djibouti-Eritrea scenario, and if this crisis in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) continues we may see many more such abrupt disruptions." readmore