https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/ ... rivalries/
UAE: Military Base at Assab - Eritrea
After military cooperation deal reportedly brokered by Saudi King Salman in April 2015, UAE began using old port of Assab as a launching point (air and sea) for its military campaign against Houthi forces in Yemen. Construction of a multi-faceted base promptly ensued.
In addition to allowing Saudi / UAE forces to operate inside Eritrea, multiple reports cited a 30-year Assab basing lease between Eritrea and the UAE. (This arrangement was vehemently denied by Eritrean government officials.) Compensation package remains undisclosed, though unconfirmed reports cite financial injections, fuel supplies, and infrastructure improvements including Asmara airport.
Assab now hosts a substantial number of Emirati naval, air, and ground assets—including warships, UAVs, fighter jets, helicopters, and armored ground units. New channel, docking facilities, barracks, and hangars accompany the existing runway, which can accommodate large military transport aircraft. Assab has also been used to train and dispatch Yemeni forces as well as troops and mechanized units from neighboring Sudan, who in 2015 were also enlisted by the Saudi-UAE coalition to fight in Yemen.
KSA and UAE turned to Eritrea only after initial plans to base their anti-Houthi campaign in Djibouti unraveled following a heated diplomatic row and an ongoing spat over DP World’s operation of Djibouti’s port container terminal. The war in Yemen has thus effectively served to bring a previously isolated Eritrea in from the cold. Scale of new military infrastructure at Assab suggests Abu Dhabi plans to maintain a presence beyond the war Yemen and may view site as providing strategic depth vis-a-vis Iran and a hub from which to project force across Red Sea. Assab port first used by Italian ships in 19th century and later a primary naval and trading port for Ethiopia until war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998. Budding rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, including plans to re-develop a commercial port at Assab, will have implications for its stakeholders and for competing ports in the region.
Ethiopian News, Current Affairs and Opinion Forum
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