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February 13, 2008

The Chadian Talibans

There has been nearly no news about something which is terrible for Africa and specially for Darfur: the conquest by Saudi and Sudan-backed Jihadis of nearly all Chad in less than a week. Some days ago I wrote about the possibility of Chad being converted into an Islamic state. I was not wrong though it seems that reality could even worse than I thought at first.

Throughout nearly 25 years a terrible genocide has happened in Sudan. Both Christians and Animists were killed by Janjaweed, the demons from the North, who caused death and displacement all over the place, without any Western country turning their eyes on it. Then Janjaweed began killing Black Muslims and world attention happened to turn to the place. There were rumours that something was going to be done.

Finally both US President Bush, who called it a genocide, and UN agreed something should be done. They wanted to launch a humanitarian operation to save Darfur (or at least to save what was left of Darfur). But China also had very important interests in Darfur, being oil and other natural richesses the first Chinese interest, helping to kill Darfurians over the oil revenues. So they blocked nearly all possibility of an operation as Sudanese government had given them several concessions over oil in Darfur precisely.

Anyway, any operation in Darfur must be carried from Chad, whose Government backed the Western humanitarian intervention, as the Sudanese Government was financing the Chadian "rebels" and the flood of refugees from Sudan didn't have an end in a near future.

But we must take a look at this "rebels" and the main factions in it. There are mainly four "group of rebels" each with interesting past and leadership:

  1. The major rebel faction is Gen. Mahamat Nouri's Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD). General Nouri, who is well past 50, served as minister of defence under President DEby four years ago before being appointed ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He resigned dramatically while in Saudi Arabia to become a rebel in eastern Chad, accusing the president of plunging the country into an abyssal depression. Sources say UFDD boasts between 3,000 and 6,000 fighters.
  2. Observers regard the Rally of the Forces of Change (RFC) as the second largest rebel movement hostile to the regime in N'djamena. The rebel faction is typical in that it is composed of former Presidential Guard officers that attempted to overthrow President Déby on 16 May 2005. The head is the president nephew, Timane Erdimi, nicknamed Rasputin, who after trying to kill the president in Ma 2005, was placed under closed surveillance, but he managed to join his men, after a visit to the Gulf countries. His men were in Eastern Chad, in the frontier with Sudan. (Eastern Chad had been a troubled area for months, without any important press coverage considering the importance of the place).
  3. The Chadian National Convention (CNT), which is led by Colonel Saleh Al Hassane Gadam Al Jinedi, a former trainee of the Tripoli military academy in Libya, is the third largest rebel movement active in eastern Chad. An internecine crisis has been rocking the rebel movement for a few days after the hardliners led by Colonel Hamid Abdelkader toppled Colonel Al Jinedi and his deputy Sheikh Al Fal. Jinedi was blamed for weakness toward President Déby Itno. A board headed by Colonel Hamid Abdelkader, a hardliner, now rules CNT, which is also credited to have a thousand men.
  4. The fourth largest movement, UFDD-Fundamental, a splinter group from General Nouri\'s original UFDD, came into the limelight last Wednesday when it captured the south-eastern town of Addé. UFDD-Fundamental is led by Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye and is also believed to boast at least 500 fighters.
As you can see, everyone of these leaders have real relationships with the Wahhabi-Jihadi world.

But there is more: Walid Phares has written a very interesting essay today about what happened in Chad these last days. I'm going to post the most important part of it as it is somewhat long, but I recomment you to read it all if you have time for it.

The bottom line is that in one day, what could become the future Taliban of Chad have scored a strategic victory not only against the Government of the country (which was supposed to back up the UN plans to save Darfur in Sudan) but also against the efforts by the African Union and European Union to contain the Sudanese regime and stop the Genocide. Today's offensive, regardless of the next developments, has already changed the geopolitics of Africa. Outmaneuvering the West and Africans, those regimes and forces standing behind the "opposition" have shown that they are restless in their campaign against human rights and self determination on the continent. But even more importantly the events of today shows how unprepared are Europeans and Americans in front of Jihadi regimes which seem weak on the surface but highly able to surprise and crumble Western efforts of containment.

[...]At first sight a non seasoned observer would conclude that this is yet another African troubled country with a bunch of "separatists," "rebels" and "insurgents." In fact it is not that simple. These forces have been backed by the Jihadi regime in Khartoum and some of its funding -according to the Chadian Government- has been sent from Saudi Arabia.

[...] Using the classical doctrine of Khid'aa (or deception) the Khartoum regime bought as much time as it needed to allow the arming and training of the "rebels" inside Chad. The equipment used by the militias has been obtained in few months and "offices" were opened in several countries in the region. Oil dividends quickly poured on the future Taliban of Chad and their political and media training went very fast. All what the Sudanese regime had to do to abort the forthcoming Darfur UN operations was to collapse the basis from where these operations will be launched: Chad. The question is not about how did the Jihadists figure this out, it is rather how the strategists in Washington and Paris failed to predict it. Although it was very simple: Movements on the ground inside Chad and intense media activity in support on al Jazeera for months projected what was to come. How did the Atlantic allies fail to see the threat gathering is stunning?

[...] s the "opposition" forces have reached N'Djamena the official minister of what could become the future Taliban regime in Chad, Jibrin Issa was comfortably seated in al Jazeera's studios in Qatar. Obviously he wasn't flown from Africa to the Gulf on the request of the booking Department of the Qatari funded network to "react" to the offensive. He was already at the station -or at least in Qatar-when the offensive began. Very interestingly, the man was wearing a classical Western business outfit and clean shaved. The PR strategy was to show the world, including France and the US, that the forces thrusting into their ally wasn't a sister of the Islamic Courts of Somalia or a Taliban "looking" militia. The game was to project this coup as "domestic" against "corruption" and the rest of the litany, thus boring for average Western public.

[...] Out of the blue he started to thank the "brave commander of the Islamic Republic of Sudan" General Omar al Bashir (the head of the regime responsible for the Genocide in Darfur) for his help to the "movement" and started to praise his "highness the servant of the two shrines," (that is the Saudi Monarch) for his support (obviously to the movement). Suddenly, and despite the frustration of the al jazeera anchor that the game may have been exposed, I connected the dots. It was indeed a Sudanese-backed operation to change the regime in Chad, and backed by Wahabi circles, as a preemptive move to crumble the forthcoming humanitarian operation in Darfur. The Jihadists, kings of strategies, won another day. To preempt a UN move against one of their regimes (Sudan) they took out the Government which had agreed to help the UN and the West. In my sense this was highly predictable. But the failure of the West to predict is highly questionable.

But there is something in here which is missing: China sent some months ago, several UN peacekeepers, amid a huge protest from Darfurians who consider China responsible in part for the genocide. Some days ago, that same UN Peacekeepers have received the UN medal for humanitarian interventions. Very on time, isn't it?

So now, Sudan is accusing UN of a bloodshed in Chad. International press is fearing for the poor oponents to Chadian president and, for example, the NYT writes:

The crisis in Chad, which reached a climax last week as rebels nearly toppled the president, has largely been seen through the lens of its effect on the catastrophe in the Darfur region of neighboring Sudan.

As we have seen it is not largely been seen, it's really the MAIN and ONLY importance for this rebellion.

Oh, and refugees from Sudan continue entering Chad: this weekend 12,000. How many Jihadis disguised as peaceful refugees?

Cross-posted at IBA and at Hyscience.

Posted by Eurabian at February 13, 2008 7:26 PM

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