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"Our Foreign Bases are Aimed at Combating Terrorism." - His Excellency President Ismail Omar Guelleh

Monday, 16 April 2018

President of Djibouti to Asharq Al-Awsat: Our Foreign Bases are Aimed at Combating Terrorism

15 April 2018 - 08:00

Riyadh - Fateh al-Rahman Youssef

President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh hoped that Sunday’s Arab summit in Saudi Arabia will help shed light on the various problems and crises in the Arab world.

In addition, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that the foreign military bases on Djibouti’s soil are “aimed at combating terrorism and marine piracy and protecting international navigation.”

He said that the Arab summit, hosted by Dhahran, is being held at a critical time in the region as several countries, such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Libya are facing crises. He also said that the Palestinian cause remains the main issue for joint Arab work. He also highlighted terrorism as another obstacle facing the Arab world.

Guelleh hoped that the summit will shed light on these problems and reach important resolutions that will help resolve them in a manner that would preserve unity and solidarity and bolster cooperation away from petty disputes.

He expressed his optimism in this regard over the Dhahran summit and the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Ties with Saudi Arabia, he said, are “solid and historic.”

They are based on trust, understanding and coordination on the highest levels, which reflects a harmony in political visions on several regional and international crises, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Commenting on the French, American, Japanese and Chinese military bases in Djibouti, Guelleh explained that they are not aimed at creating international competition over economic and strategic interests.

They are primarily aimed at combating terrorism and marine piracy, he stressed.

“We are also keen on preserving the security, stability and development of our country,” he stated.

Djibouti, he continued, enjoys a strategic position on the Red Sea basin and it overlooks the Bab al-Mandeb strait, which is a vital passageway for the global economy. His country also acts as the gate to east Africa.

Given this unique position, he added: “We look forward to playing a very important role in the Horn of Africa and east Africa in order to achieve economic security and political stability.”

This is embodied in the opening of investment, establishment of a free economy and the presence of the international military bases, Guelleh explained.

Addressing regional issues, he said that the political solution is the only resolution to the tragedy in Syria.

He hoped that the resolution would meet the expectation of the Syrian people and be based on factors that will preserve their country’s unity and independence and restore its security and stability.

On Yemen, he called on the people to support the legitimate forces and end the coup that has created the current chaos in their country.

Guelleh also underlined the importance of a peaceful political solution to the crisis.

Furthermore, he expressed his solidarity with Iraq in its fight against terrorism and his support to Libyan parties, urging them to unite to end their disputes and reach a solution that can restore security and stability to the people.

Commenting on the Iran-backed Houthis’ firing of ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia from Yemen, he said: “This is a blatant violation and threat to regional and international security.”

He also deemed their firing of rockets at villages and cities a “violation of International Humanitarian Law and a dangerous development in the war against the terrorist groups and their backers.”

“We reiterate our constant solidarity with Saudi Arabia against the heinous aggression … and hope that security and stability will be restored in Yemen,” Guelleh stressed.

The Houthi militias have repeatedly fired missiles against Saudi Arabia and they have all been intercepted by the Kingdom’s air defenses.