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article imageU.S. to lease base in Djibouti for 10 years with an extension

By Ken Hanly     May 6, 2014 in World
The U.S. has negotiated a decade-long lease for a key base in Djibouti that it has long used for "counter-terrorism" operations that include drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia.
President Barack Obama met with Djibouti president Omar Guelleh and together they made a statement on the leasing arrangement after meeting at the White House. Both pledged to fight Al Qaeda in the area as well as Al-Shabab in Somalia. The base, Camp Lemonnier is the sole long-term U.S. military facility in sub-Saharan Africa. Being on the Horn of Africa it has had considerable strategic importance in Pentagon plans. There are about 4,000 U.S. troops and a much equipment at the base. Camp Lemonnier is situated close to key areas where the U.S. has mounted drone attacks and other anti-terrorism operations: With its busy port, it sits strategically in the Horn of Africa. It’s across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen and bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia -- making it a prime counter-terrorism partner for the United States.
The new deal will be considerably more expensive for the U.S. at $63 million annually. The present lease is only for $38 million. However, the agreement will allow for an extension for another ten years without renegotiation and then a further ten years to be renegotiated.
Obama said: "Camp Lemonnier is extraordinarily important to our work throughout the Horn of Africa but also throughout the region. We very much appreciate the hospitality that Djiboutians provide, Overall, this is a critical facility that we maintain in Djibouti, we could not do it without the president's co-operation, we're grateful for him agreeing for a long-term presence there." The Pentagon is reported to have already informed Congress of plans to dramatically expand the facilities at Camp Lemonnier to the tune of an expenditure of one billion dollars in construction.
The statements of Obama and President Guelleh can be read in full here. Guelleh was effusive in his praise of the agreement: The fact that we welcome the U.S. forces in our country show our support for international peace and for peace in our region as well. As you know, Djibouti is not only taking part in AMISOM, but we are also present in Darfur, Côte d’Ivoire, Western Sahara, and soon enough in the Central African Republic. We do that all for peace in the world and for peace in Africa. So I am very happy to be here today to continue to reinforce our partnership and our relationship. The U.S. will also increase non-military aid to Djibouti for education and infrastructure development. Some critics see the build-up of Camp Monnier as a step toward what they call the "militarization" of Africa. There is mounting evidence that Camp Lemonnier was earlier used as a CIA "black site".
More about Djibouti US relations, Camp Lemonnier, US in Africa
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