The progress of the crisis in Ethiopia raises a growing alarm in Djibouti, where the government has placed the police and gendarmerie on high alert, fearing that the contrasts between the Somali and Afar communities could escalate again.
President Ismail Omar Guelleh fears that the Tigrinya advance in the regional state of Afar could fuel the instability of the local government and the strengthening of Afarite opposition formations within the state of Djibouti, believing that a fallout in terms of security on Djibouti is plausible.
The close ties between Guelleh and Abiy Ahmed, as reiterated several times in official government communications and as demonstrated by the intense economic cooperation between the two countries, today risk placing Djibouti politically as an obvious ally of the federal government of Ethiopia, with the risk of direct involvement in the dynamics of crisis in the neighboring country.
Djibouti, however, fears not only the military and political risk connected to the Ethiopian crisis, but rather the economic risk connected to the flow of goods between the two countries. Both the road axis connecting Ethiopia (through the regional state of Afar) and the railway line between Addis Ababa and the port of Doraleh (through the regional states of Oromia and Somalia) risk being interrupted by the dynamics of the conflict, with enormous repercussions for Djibouti’s economy.
The evolutionary picture of the conflict in Ethiopia, and more generally of the regional instability connected to it, could also reinvigorate the political dynamics of the forces of opposition to Ismail Omar Guelleh, which, even though they have subsided in recent months, have never abandoned their intention to promote the delegitimization of the president and his fifth presidential mandate.