Its strategic location at the entrance to the Bab al-Mandab Strait has incentivized various countries to establish military bases in the small African nation.
The small, arid East African country of Djibouti is strategically located along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes on the Bab el Mandeb Strait, which serves as the gateway from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean (Figure 1). Djibouti has become a hub for foreign militaries. It is home to U.S. Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), based at Camp Lemonnier, the only enduring U.S. military installation in Africa. A former French colony, Djibouti also hosts a sizable French military presence and provides facilities for multinational antipiracy operations off Somalia’s coast. Japan established its first post-World War II overseas military base there in 2011. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) opened a liaison office in Djibouti to enhance regional antipiracy efforts in 2015. China opened its first military base abroad there in 2017. Italy also maintains military facilities in the country.
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