- US govt has signed a $70 million (lease fees and developmental aid included), 20-yr lease contract on its military base in Dijibouti in the Horn of Africa, its only base in the whole continent.
- This base, which was earlier a stopover point for the US soldiers after the September 11 attacks, will be the hub for operations that will help combat terrorists, pirates, smugglers and the likes of it throughout Africa (particularly Yemen and Somalia), as well as parts of Arabian peninsula and the Indian Ocean.
- The agreement strengthens ties between the two countries, which were previously strained after US was forced to relocate its drones from here to a desert location amidst fear of their collision with passenger jets.
- It also ends speculation about the country leasing land to Russia, owing to the now strained relations between Russia and US over Ukraine.
- The focus is on Camp Lemonnier, a huge base of about 4,000 US service members, which is lodged between the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, and a French military multination storage facility.
- The base, which was earlier based on a warship for a mission to hunt down Al-Qaeeda members, consisted of only 300 in 2003. In 2007, the lease was extended from 80acres to 500 acres after which US has spent over $500 million in development of aircraft hangers, recreation centre, water production plant and so on indicating its plans of long stay in there.
- Recently, the camp has taken up new missions including tighter security to members of the US embassy in Libya following an attack on the US diplomatic mission in 2012.
- Read at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/us-signs-strategic-20year-lease-on-djibouti-base/article5984123.ece