Jean Claude de l’Estrac: “Mauritius has no say over the use of Diego Garcia”
19 janvier 2020
The rising tension between Iran and the United States has had everyone worldwide on their toes. With the United States using the Diego Garcia military base, the sovereignty over Chagos remains a pertinent issue for Mauritius, a legit topic that the Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has been invited to discuss with Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of United Kingdom.
In an attempt to better understand the position of Mauritius on this issue and what happens to its sovereignty over Chagos, we interviewed Jean Claude de l’Estrac, former minister of foreign affairs, regional integration & international trade and author of the book ‘Next year in Diego Garcia…’.
1. What will be the position of Mauritius in case of a possible war?
We are, in fact, witnessing a strategy of de-escalation of the conflict by both countries. Hopefully, the military option is being averted which does not mean that the war of words will stop. In any case, Mauritius has no say on the issue. In case of war, the American B-52 bombers will fly from Diego Garcia. It has happened before during the first Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait. We will condemn the use of Diego Garcia of course but unfortunately that’s the end of what we can do.
2. What might happen to our claim of sovereignty with regards to Chagos?
Nothing will change. In fact the British and the Americans will use the opportunity to argue that they need the military base more than ever “to fight terrorism”. They will not budge in spite of all the political and diplomatic pressures. Their focus is military.
3. Can Mauritius refuse to allow Chagos to be used as a strategic point in case of a war?
Of course, there is no way we can do that. May be the big talks of government officials about our diplomatic “victory” at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and at the UN General Assembly, has created confusion in the minds of our citizens. Diego Garcia is still part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in spite of the advisory opinion of the ICJ and I don’t see any change in the foreseeable future.
I don’t think this will happen. Both government and media are entertaining false hopes. Patriotism is not about being stupid.
THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS REACTS
“We are monitoring the situation closely”
We also contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration & International Trade to know about their views on the tension between United States and Iran. They explained that although they have not yet released any press communiqués, this remains a matter of great concern as Mauritius will be affected in case of war and that they are observing the issue closely and discussing it in their meetings.
Vanessen Seechurun &Aïshah Issack