The Politics of a Strategic State

Samson Bezabeh

Essential reading if you want to know why Djibouti, the gateway to the Red Sea, is the epicentre of a new global struggle for control of its strategic location.

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Djibouti Hardback
April 2021£45.00
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Djibouti, the small Horn of Africa state, has great geopolitical significance as a result of its location, positioned along the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden, where the maritime trade routes of three continents converge: Europe, Asia and Africa. Djibouti has become instrumental in controlling the trans-shipment of goods, particularly oil. It is also where world powers vie for control—as demonstrated by the military presence of multiple global powers, four of which (China, France, the USA and Japan) have established military bases in the country.

Despite its global importance, the political history of Djibouti remains undocumented. The last English-language book on the subject came out in 1968, before the country won its independence from France in 1977. Over half a century later, Djibouti: The Politics of a Strategic State details the country’s political trajectory since independence. Samson Bezabeh examines how the idealism of the struggle for an independent state ended in tragedy for the country’s people, allowing elites the opportunity to enrich themselves—aided and abetted by the international powers seeking to control Djibouti through their political proxies.


Samson Bezabeh is a research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), Uganda, and a permanent fellow of the African Studies Centre, Leiden University. His previous publications include Subjects of Empires/Citizens of States: Yemenis in Djibouti and Ethiopia (2016).