Djibouti’s defense minister, Ali Bahdon, welcomed the presence of a Saudi military base in his country, pointing out that the relationship with Riyadh exceeded military cooperation, to reach historical, ideological and cultural ties.
He added that the military agreement between the two sides has many aspects of cooperation, including the Joint Military Commission, which meets every few months, as well as supporting and strengthening the military forces in Djibouti.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Bahdon said that Saudi experts had arrived in Djibouti to assess military cooperation, and that trainees and students from Djibouti were studying in military colleges in the Kingdom.
“There are historical, ideological and cultural relations with the Kingdom, and we are one people who share the same values, and we have the same issues and problems; relations are much greater now, as we are in a new phase of geopolitical changes in the region,” he stated.
Asked about the building of a Saudi military base in Djibouti, Bahdon replied: “As you know, in terms of cooperation, there is a military agreement signed between the two sides. This agreement has many aspects, including the Joint Military Commission.”
He noted in this regard that the military base was part of comprehensive cooperation and the “relationship between the two countries is not limited to the base, but it is even greater.”
On whether the establishment of the Saudi military base would contribute to combating smuggling across the sea, the defense minister stressed that it would not be the solution to this matter, as “it has limits in which it operates and powers that serve specific goals.”
“Therefore, when we talk about military cooperation, it is a comprehensive strategic cooperation between the two countries in various military aspects, not in a specific sector and role,” he explained.
He blamed the economic, social and security situation for the migration outflow in the countries neighboring Djibouti, noting that these factors had affected migrants in various nearby countries.
“We believe that the development of countries suffering from migration would be the cornerstone for curbing this problem,” Bahdon stated, underlining a common vision between the Kingdom and Djibouti and a determination to work together and achieve security and stability in the region.
On whether Djibouti was exchanging information with Yemen to prevent arms smuggling to Bab al-Mandab, the minister said: “Djibouti is a member of the Arab alliance, and it is coordinating with the different concerned parties. It is also a country that has received many refugees from regional states, especially from Yemen. The country has incurred major losses due to migration.”
Commenting on the outcome of the first meeting of the Islamic Alliance to Counter Terrorism, Bahdon replied: “The next phase will see further development and improvement of this strategy, which was launched with the first meeting of the Council of Ministers of Defense of the Islamic Military Coalition to Combat Terrorism, and here we congratulate Saudi Arabia on this meeting and the important initiative” launched in this regard.