Djibouti – Amidst recently constructed buildings and other historical ones, President of Djibouti Ismael Omar Guelleh is managing the affairs of his country, which is aiming to play a major role in the new world, depending mainly on its strategic location on Bab el-Mandeb Strait and Horn of Africa.
Guelleh said that his country, whose resources are limited, is getting ready to open new doors to cooperate with Arab, African and other international countries on economic, security and military levels.
He stressed the depth of relations with Saudi Arabia as they are based on trust and understanding.
“Since my last official visit to Saudi Arabia and as I met my brother King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman my country’s relation with the Kingdom has witnessed a significant qualitative shift,” said Guelleh.
President of Djibouti confirmed that his country will sign an agreement with Saudi Arabia for military cooperation after the two countries have signed an agreement on security cooperation.
He also talked about the Djiboutian-Saudi economic forum that will be held soon and will witness the launching of a joint council for Djiboutian and Saudi businessmen, which underlines the development of the distinguished brotherly relations between the two countries on various levels.
He said that his country does not fear any military competition among major powers over Djiboutian territories because its presence is primarily directed to combat terrorism and maritime piracy and to protect international shipping due to its important strategic location.
Guelleh noted that the world has witnessed during the past decade complicated crises that led to the formation of critical economic, political and security conditions.
These conditions have also led to serious implications internationally, including the wide spread and expansion of terrorism, violence and extremism.
Therefore, it is very important to actively address this calamity through close international cooperation and figure out the political, economic and social causes that allowed the expansion of terrorism.
He urged Arab countries to consolidate and spread the culture of peace, moderation and tolerance and reject all forms of extremism, violence, hatred and immoderation in order to handle the crises using peaceful methods.
He further noted that Djibouti had cut relations with Tehran, which supports Houthi insurgents, joined Saudi-led Arab Coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen and also joined Islamic Anti-terrorism Coalition.
Moreover, President Guelleh said that Iran has been intervening in the affairs of many Arab countries, including Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Iraq, inciting sectarian strife and supporting armed militias with funds and weapons, destabilizing peace and stability in these countries.
He said that due to this support from Iran, these countries have been transformed into war arenas.
He also said that Arabs have the right to combat this destructive role played by Iran in the region using various available and possible means.
In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Djiboutian President seemed to be determined to implement a comprehensive plan to develop his poor country through cooperating with Arab, African and other International countries.
Guelleh said that Africa is a huge consumer market that will witness the arousal of a middle class having a purchasing power valued by around $1.4 billion by 2020, which makes the African continent an attractive site for foreign investors.
Guelleh noted that the major challenge facing the achievement of these developmental aspirations lie in the absence of the modern infrastructure in several fields, including roads and power.
When asked about refugees’ crisis, especially those coming from Horn of Africa and Yemen, noting the Djibouti participated in the 71st Session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA 71) on Refugees and Migrants in New York, Guelleh said that since the independence of his country it has been receiving many refugees from neighboring countries.
He explained that natural disasters, climate change, environmental degradation and human acts all together increase the phenomena of displacement in Africa generally and in Horn of Africa specifically.
“Despite our limited resources,” he said, “we have opened our houses and hearts to provide them with necessary humanitarian aids.”
This comes in line with the values of Djibouti as a country and its people.
In this matter, he said that Djibouti established a special agency to provide humanitarian aids for victims of wars and natural disasters hitting many regional countries.