BASE REPORT: French presence at Djibouti

Djibouti calls the tune for French forces in the Horn of Africa, offering a secure base in a volatile region. Jean-Marc Tanguy was granted exclusive access in January 2022

Djibouti Air Base 188 is the central hub of French strategy in the North African region. France has remained active there since the 1930s because it offers an excellent observational outlook over the whole region, as well as being a useful link to overseas territories such as the island of La Réunion (in the south Indian Ocean), New Caledonia and French Polynesia. France has also an air base (BA104) in the UAE, deploying seven Rafales.

Since 1992 and the fall of the then government in neighboring Somalia, Djibouti has become even more significant. The Americans arrived in 2001, post 9/11. The Pentagon had to deal with terrorist groups operating in Yemen, where the destroyer Cole had been attacked a year earlier by an Al Qaeda team. Somalia’s Al-Shabab militia was another factor.

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