Chad: The Kings Of Chaos In The Middle of Nowhere

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September 17, 2007: Chad has agreed to allow 3,000 European peacekeepers to set up shop along the Sudanese border, and protect several hundred Sudanese and Chadian refugees from attack. Some of the attackers have been Chadian soldiers, so this bit of peacekeeping could get tricky. The Sudanese border is out-of-control, with rebels from Chad and Sudan, as well as Chadian soldiers and bandits from both countries, fighting each other. All these gunmen live off raiding villages and refugee camps. Some receive support from the governments of Chad or Sudan (a few have managed to take payments from both governments). Some of the local people believe the Europeans can sort it all out. The Europeans are not so sure, but are committed to giving it a try.

September 15, 2007: Chad's neighbor, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been torn by a tribal conflict since November 2001, when former CAR Army Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize and his supporters fled to Chad after fighting broke out in CAR's capital Bangui. For two years, Libya provided troops to help keep the new government secure. But in 2003, Bozize and his armed followers returned, and the unpopular Ange-Félix Patassé fled. Sort of. Patassé supporters, and people who simply opposed Bozize, or government in general, got guns, and adopted an attitude that they are a law unto themselves. Northwestern CAR was always a lawless place, made worse by years of civil war in nearby Chad, and heavy poaching activity from nearby Sudan.

The area is sparsely populated, dry and lightly policed. Smugglers and nomads move about, and have always carried weapons for protection. Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the area has been flooded by cheap weapons, especially AK-47s, RPGs and light machine-guns. The current disorder in CAR, and the inability to suppress it, is an all too common state of affairs in this part of the world. Although Bozize has run elections, democracy does not automatically overcome tribalism. The unrest in the border area between CAR, Chad and Sudan has been been going on for a long, long time. It's not likely to go away any time soon, but it is also unlikely to rise above the level of civil disorder and banditry.

Nearly two years ago, Followers of former president Ange-Félix Patassé somehow got financing for another uprising. Gunmen were hired, by professional organizers, for a major military operation. It's difficult to keep these things secret, although you can hide the identity of the top people for a while. Where's the money coming from? Libya used to be the usual suspect, but has said publicly that they are out of the coup game. The most likely supporter is Sudan, which has been financing rebel groups in several neighboring countries.

Current president Franτois Bozize has many enemies, including many soldiers he demobilized after he took power in 2003. These former soldiers are unhappy with the payments they received for their faithful service (in supporting the Bozize coup against Patassé.) Some of these lads have taken to banditry, others still have their guns, and would be willing to use them again for a big payday. Bozize has formed a "presidential guard" of some of the nastiest gunmen available, and turned them loose on any area that seems to be supporting opposition to the government. The presidential guard is basically a terror force, killing and looting to make their point. Bozize also has the support of France, for the moment. France wants peace and quiet. At the moment, Bozize is the only viable leader in CAR, but the minute a better one shows up, the French will likely drop Bozize.

 

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