Chad: Rain of Terror


September 2, 2007: Eastern Chad is still suffering from bandits and rebels operating in the area. There been some pretty violent fighting around the town of Guerada recently. There was a major battle here last December, as rebels fought to take the place. The rebels lost, but the violence led to a peace deal with the rebels. The head of the rebel coalition (of tribes) joined the government in March as Minister of Defense. But not all members of the rebel coalition were satisfied. Chadian president Deby is from the Zaghawa tribe, which is seen, in typical African fashion, as keeping all the goodies (especially the oil money) for itself. No matter what Deby says or does, many rival tribesmen will not believe him. It's only natural to grab all you can, when you can, to benefit your tribe. In this part of the world, people have always (well, for at least 10,000 years) lived from season to season. Too little rain one year, and a lot of people die. It's one of those droughts that kicked off the current civil war in eastern Chad. The Zaghawa tribe forced the nearby Tama off their lands, and water. The Tama accused the government of backing the Zaghawa, and put together a coalition of eleven pissed off tribes. President Deby is trying to convince these tribes that they have been paid off. Food aid has been allowed into the region, along with other forms of foreign assistance. But spillover from the Darfur war next door in Sudan has also let loose Sudanese and Chadian tribes who are ethnically Arab, and not black (like the Zaghawa, and the Tama led coalition). Every week there are several raids, and it's not always clear who is doing the raids. So the usual suspects are accused, regardless of who was really the culprit.

The UN wants to bring peacekeepers into the midst of all this, but the governments of Chad and Sudan oppose this. Neither wants armed foreigners getting involved with internal politics. But the foreigners are under pressure from their voters to end the violence, which is upsetting.




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