In a letter to the council president circulated Tuesday, Djibouti's Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, said Eritrea has launched a major military build-up on their border overlooking critical Red Sea shipping lanes. He accused Eritrea of carrying out "an undisguised and naked provocation against my country's sovereignty and territorial integrity." "We call on the council to deploy urgently all necessary measures toward preventing yet another conflict, under any guise, in a region long ravaged by mayhem, bloodshed and destruction," Youssouf said.
More than 1,200 U.S troops, according to The Associated Press (AP), are stationed in Djibouti, which hosts the base for an anti-terrorism task force in the Horn of Africa. France also has a base in Djibouti, its former colony. Youssouf said he was bringing the Eritrean buildup to the council's attention because there has been a progressive growth of Eritrean troops at our common border since February 2008."
Djibouti has responded by sending troops to the border as well, Youssouf said.
He said contacts with Eritrea at the highest level "have failed to elicit any credible response." Eritrea's UN Mission said no one was immediately available to respond to the foreign minister. Youssouf recalled that in 1996 Eritrea floated "a false map ... that incorporated the same northern border area into its territory, thus unilaterally redrawing the established border." Youssouf said Djibouti suspects the motivation behind Eritrea's deployment is the strategic location and panoramic view of the critical Red Sea shipping lanes from the border.