Back in July 2017 I was invited to Reuters War College podcast hosted by Matthew Gault to discuss China’s grand opening of the country’s first overseas base in the small northern African country of Djibouti sending upwards of 400 troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy the freshly minted military compound that China has deemed a “logistics facility” which will provide security of Chinese exports as well as protection of the vital Bab-el-Mandeb waterway where China ships its precious oil exports through on a daily basis.
The Chinese base nestled in the Obock region of Djibouti is apart of China’s defensive and economic offensive known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is designed to connect mainland China to its various economic and natural resource procurement ventures throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Now, with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) ships on their final leg of their trip to their new base in Obock, China is now offering to fill the peace-keeping gap left by Qatar along the contested border of Eritrea and Djibouti. Yet, this posits the question: is China worried about keeping the peace along this border, or more interested in keeping its oil terminals pumping.
China asserts the base is simply a logistics hub, poised to protect the country’s interests in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. It’s an interesting location for a military installation considering that an American military base — Camp Lemonnier — is just four miles away.
I attempt to walk the listener through China’s interests in East Africa and why so many American Special Operations forces are stationed there. Africa will be the next stage in the global proxy conflict between superpowers.
With the new found interest in Africa after the grisly ambush perpetrated by a group of militants apart of the growing Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (IS-GS) on a small group of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and their Nigerien counterparts which resulted in 4 American soldiers killed.
This podcast, which was 4 months prior to that fateful day near the northern border village of Tongo Tongo, Niger, needs to be revisited as we enter into America’s next major battlefront…
Feature image courtesy of: Reuters