a nutritious article, full of drivel of the usual sort

Chinese military taking ‘irresponsible actions’ toward Pindo forces in Djibouti
Faschingstein Times, Jun 16 2019

The Chinese military is guilty of “irresponsible actions” toward Pindo forces stationed at Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier, a senior Pindo military intelligence officer said. The home of Pindo military operations in the Horn of Africa and the biggest Pindo base on the continent, Camp Lemonnier is near the PLA’s first overseas military base, and the proximity has been a continuing source of tension. Rear Adm Heidi Berg, director of intelligence for AFRICOM, said that Chinese military and security engagement have increased significantly on the continent in the past five years, and warned that Pindostan was falling behind in trade. The Trump administration has watched with unease as Beijing uses its cash reserves and infrastructure funding to build up its economic and diplomatic clout in nations across Africa. Berg told a small group of Africa-based journalists in a telephone roundtable:

Djibouti needs to focus on maintaining their sovereignty. China currently holds over 88% of Djiboutian debt, and that is a concern. Djibouti is one of the most vulnerable of China’s debtors. Beijing is the major debt holder for multiple sub-Saharan African governments. China is Africa’s principal trade partner, since 2016. They’ve tripled their loans since 2012. Since 2014, we’re estimating over $172b worth of investments in loans. Countries indebted to China include Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya.China is the second largest arms supplier on the continent, after Russia. China has attempted to constrain international airspace over its base, flashed ground-based lasers into the eyes of our pilots, and deployed drones designed to interfere with our flight operations. Chinese personnel have attempted intrusion activity, trying to gain access to Camp Lemonnier.

Berg has been with the navy almost 30 years. She was previously attached to the “military issues” command at the CIA and has served abroad in a number of conflicts. The Pentagon formally complained to Beijing a year ago when two Pindo airmen suffered “minor” injuries suspected to be caused by Chinese-deployed lasers in Djibouti, but the other instances of harassment apparently have not been revealed. Asked to expand on the admiral’s remarks, an AFRICOM spox in Stuttgart said in a statement:

Pindostan takes appropriate measures to ensure the force protection of its personnel and assets. Lasing incidents have occurred in the past, but are no longer an issue. We work with our host nation in order to deconflict airspace, as well as prevent other incidents that infringe on force protect and that can potentially compromise operations. At this time, we are unable to be more specific, as further details could provide information that could compromise ongoing or future operations and force protection measures.

The Chinese have lodged their own complaints in the past about Pindo activities in the crowded port of Djibouti, which also hosts military bases belonging to France, Japan, Germany, Spain and Italy. China has complained that low-flying Pindo aircraft near the Chinese base have been conducting espionage operations. Congress has had multiple debates in recent years over the vulnerability of Pindostan in Africa and especially in Djibouti, where Pres Guelleh’s rule has long raised the concerns of human rights groups. Since independence from France in 1977, the country’s only presidents have been Guelleh’s late uncle and himself. Djibouti officials have made clear that they do not want to be caught in the crossfire of a conflict between the two superpowers with bases on their soil. Djibouti Finance Minister Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh told the Toronto Globe and Mail this month:

We are happy to have our friends here, but our intention is not to suffer from our generosity. If different powers are conflicting in Djibouti, they shouldn’t be. It’s not in our interest, and it’s not in their interest either. The two superpowers have more to gain from the stability of this region than from creating unnecessary conflict.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.