Djibouti: Key To Us Success In The Horn Of Africa

1236 words - 5 pages

The Horn of Africa has become a hotbed for extremist activities, terrorist groups and piracy due to its diverse cultures, large Muslim populations, and poor economies. All of these components threaten the peace and stability of the area and affect many countries abroad. The United States plays a major role in assisting countries in the Horn of Africa to ensure stability and security. The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) was created to accomplish this mission in the region. Djibouti stands out as a country in this region that plays a large role in assisting the United States to protect its interests in the area. Djibouti’s current culture is shaped by its strategic location on the Gulf of Aden, its mixed ethnic background, its dependence on foreign assistance, and its support of fighting terrorism and piracy. These fundamentals of Djiboutian culture have made this country vital to CJTF-HOA’s success in this region.
Djibouti is strategically located with its central and southern regions facing the Gulf of Aden, just south of the Red Sea. Somalia is located to its south, Eritrea to its north, Ethiopia to its west, and Yemen is located to the northeast, less than 20 miles across the Gulf of Aden. Due to its advantageous location in the Horn of Africa, CJTF-HOA has operated out of Camp Lemonier, Djibouti since May 2003. Camp Lemonier is located near Djibouti City and it is the only United States military base in Africa. Djibouti has given the United States military access to its port and airport facilities (“Background Note: Djibouti,” 2011), which enables them to move throughout the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, and the Arabian Peninsula. Djibouti’s strong ties to the United States and convenient location provide the necessary site for CJTF-HOA to be able to carry out its mission in its areas of responsibility and areas of interest.
Djibouti’s location has played a major role in defining its two major ethnic groups. Prior to the 16th century, the two major ethnicities were the Issa and the Afar people. Through the centuries, peoples from the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, and Ethiopia all migrated to Djibouti and integrated into either the Issa or Afar tribes. The migrant Somalis integrated with the Issa tribes to become the modern day Issa-Somalis; while the Afar tribes were first descendents of Arabs that eventually allied with the Ethiopians. Centuries before colonization, both the Afar and Issa-Somalis became Sunni Muslims. In the late 1800’s, France began colonizing the country and established French Somaliland which united the Issa-Somalis and Afar. After nearly a century of French rule, Djibouti gained its independence in 1977. Djibouti’s modern culture has been formed by the social and cultural similarities between originally nomadic-pastoral populations that speak related languages, adhere to Islam, and share a way of life (“Culture of Djibouti,” 2011). Their current culture is strongly tied to the...

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