Archive | March, 2019

Rebel Incursion Exposes Chad’s Weaknesses

An early February incursion by the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) into Chad from Libya was halted by French air strikes, conducted in coordination with the Chadian army. This most severe security threat for several years highlights the weakness of the country and President Idriss Déby’s rule. What happened? On 3-6 February 2019, at the request of N’Djamena, planes from the French Operation Barkhane proceeded with a series of strikes against a group of Chadian rebels in the north east of the country. According to rebels’ spokesperson Youssouf Hamid Ishagh, the Union of Resistance Forces (Union des forces de la résistance – UFR), a coalition based in Libya, intended to reach the capital N’Djamena in order to overthrow President Idriss Déby and “set up a transitional government uniting all of the country’s forces”. The plan was aborted following the French intervention. Composed mainly of Zaghawa fighters from Déby’s own ethnic community, this rebel movement is directed by Timan Erdimi, the president’s nephew, who lives in Qatar. He first tried to overthrow his uncle in 2008, and again in 2009 after forming the UFR. According to a statement released by the Chadian army on 9 February 2019, “more than 250 terrorists, including four leaders” were […]

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A Shadow Rebellion in Chad

In early February, France revealed it had bombed Chadian rebels who had crossed from Libya to prevent a coup against president Idriss Deby. But as Ben Taub writes in The New Yorker, the situation underscores how Western states prioritize short-term solutions to the complex issues facing fragile African states. In the summer of 2017, a Chadian spy called me from a military base in the capital, N’Djamena, to inform me of a rebellion brewing to the north. The rebellion itself was hardly news—there have been scores of failed coups in Chad since it gained independence from France, in 1960—but the spy surmised that this revolt might come to pose a real threat to the regime. It was lead by Timane Erdimi, a disenchanted nephew of the President, Idriss Déby, who had seized power in 1990 in the same fashion as each of his predecessors: by capturing the Presidential palace in a rebellion of his own. For weeks, Erdimi’s rebels had been amassing weapons and personnel in the lawless desert of southern Libya. “Some soldiers are loyal to the President, some soldiers are not—no one knows how this will develop,” the spy told me. “They’re far from N’Djamena, but who knows how long […]

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