- As the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the African Union urge Eritrea to stop its aggression against neighbouring Djibouti, French officers stationed in Djibouti reveal France is providing military support to the country. France is to step up its military presence in Djibouti with immediate effect.
Speaking to the government-controlled press agency 'Agence Djiboutienne d'Information' (ADI), French officer Colonel Ducret said troops from France are "providing assistance in logistics, medical but also support in terms of intelligence service to the Djiboutian army."
This information has been confirmed by Paris Ministry of Defence spokesmen, talking to the French press. These sources add, that while French troops have not been involved in the fighting with Eritreans, they have provided aerial surveillance of the border, informing Djibouti's army about Eritrean troop movements. Other assistance had mainly focused on medical aid.
Further, the Ministry of Defence had decided to increase French military presence in Djibouti while the conflict with Eritrea goes on. There exist plans to establish mobile French military bases close to the Eritrean border, which would assure against an Eritrean advance into the small Horn of Africa country, unnamed French Ministry sources revealed to the Paris press.
France already has a large military base in Djibouti, which it considers a major ally. The Paris government was among the first countries to condemn the Eritrean aggression against Djibouti. The French Foreign Ministry called "on both parties, particularly Eritrea, to commit to a cease-fire and resume dialogue."
Yesterday, only the US State Department's condemnation of Eritrea was clearer. A State Department spokesperson referred to the border conflict as a "military aggression" committed by Eritrea. Also the US has a large military basis in Djibouti, but the US Army has yet to state whether it is assisting its host nation in this conflict. US-Eritrean relations, on the other hand, are cool, with Washington accusing Eritrea of arming Somali Islamists and groups close to al Qaeda.
During the day, global condemnation of Eritrea has become even wider. The Arab League today urged Eritrea to withdraw its forces from border areas near Djibouti "immediately" and to respect Djibouti's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Eritrea however has rejected a fact finding mission from the League, which was to find ways to ease tension.
Even the UN Security Council today condemned "Eritrea's military action against Djibouti," clearly putting the blame on the Asmara government. It urged "both parties, in particular Eritrea, to show maximum restraint and withdraw forces to the status-quo ante." The UN body further urged Eritrea to stop resisting international efforts to negotiate a cease-fire and peace "in a manner consistent with international law."
In addition to the Arab League's effort to approach Eritrea, also an African Union (AU) is currently trying to reach out to both countries. However, also the AU has so far been met with a cold shoulder by the Asmara government.
Eritrean authorities, increasingly out of touch with the international community following years of diplomatic isolation, totally deny what they are accused of. The Asmara Foreign Ministry has issued a press release calling the massive condemnation of its military aggression against Djibouti "baseless and mendacious statements."
Meanwhile, in Djibouti, authorities are encouraged by the massive international support. President Ismail Omar Guelleh told the state agency 'ADI' that "If Eritrea wants war, it will get it." He made it clear that he considers his country to be at war with Eritrea.
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