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Everything you need to know about France’s interference in the Chad crisis

Idriss Déby, Chad’s longest-serving president, died last week from injuries sustained on the frontlines during clashes with the rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT). Chad’s government and parliament were disbanded soon after allowing a military council headed by Déby’s uncle Mahamat Idriss Déby to rule for the next 18 months. While the decision has been widely panned, the army has promised “free and democratic” elections after the transition process is completed.
The former French colony is now a key Western outpost in the war against Islamist militants in the Sahel, the large area between the Sahara and the Sudanese savanna. France has a powerful military presence in the area and has aided Déby in his war against political rivals and allies. France, on the other hand, has been attempting to withdraw from the area after the Central African Republic uprising in 2013. With Déby’s death, this may be a difficult escape. On Friday at the state funeral of Déby, the current head of the state, Mahamat Idriss Déby was joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, the first Western head of state to attend. France defended the occupation by the Chadian army, and Macron asked the Military Government to promote peace, inclusion, dialogue and return to democracy. France does not want to build democracy; it is simply motivated by sufficient security to pull its troops out of the area.
military says that chad's president idriss deby itno killed on battlefield - times of india
What is the military presence of France in the region?
Military operations in the Sahel countries are being carried out to combat Islamist groups, monitor political ambitions, and train future African leaders. In achieving these targets, Chad has proven to be France’s most reliable and stable Sahel ally. Operation Barkhane, which started to conduct counter-terrorism operations at the Sahel in 2014, has approximately 5,100 French soldiers and sophisticated military equipment. The soldiers are deployed indefinitely in Chad. Operation Barkhane was invested by France alone in 2020 at $1.1 billion. France claims its objective is to help the countries of the Sahel protect territorial stability and avoid the emergence of Islamist groups that are threatening France and the West in general. Over the years, France has supported Chad enormously through military and intelligence, by deploying forces and fighting jets to repel a Libyan and Sudanese assault. In Chad’s border towns too, they continue to establish military bases.
Why is France trying to find a way out?
The military presence of France is very high in the region. In the Sahel region, most Western nations which provide France with military support are trying to reduce their military and arsenals. Germany rejected this year to send further forces to the area for further operations. The US, with most of its soldiers deployed in Africa in the Sahel region, are also trying to reduce numbers. Operation Barkhane has been infamous for civilian deaths, armed attacks, and mine explosions since its inception. The Sahel region’s civilians are becoming more hostile to foreign forces that have refused to defend them. In France, Macron’s reputation has suffered as a result of scores of deaths of French soldiers and exorbitant prices. An estimated 2 million people have been displaced, with the majority seeking refuge in Europe.
Why France is not able to exit?
France understands that withdrawing its forces would create a security vacuum. Withdrawing troops and leaving UN peacekeeping missions because it is unable to maintain operations and combat on its own, will wipe out all that France and its allies have accomplished.
Where does Chad stand in the present?
Fighting terrorism is becoming more complex as poverty, insecurity, and population increase make it possible for jihadists and Islamist groups to attract new members. Sahel countries, especially Chad, have been hesitant to invest in human development and use diplomatic means to resolve cross-border issues. Chad’s military spending accounts for at least 30% of its fiscal budget, according to the International Crisis Group. Déby did not spend sufficiently in the development of Chad’s population or economy during his 30 years in power, and the country now ranks 187th out of 189 nations on the UN Human Development Index. Throughout, Déby remained autocratic, restricting personal freedoms, cracking down on opponents, and suppressing opposition. It’s unlikely that the next administration, headed by his own son, would be any different.
FACT, which has been protesting against the military handover and vowed to continue warfare, is the most powerful domestic opposition Chad faces. According to Reuters, FACT plans to travel to N’Djamena, Chad’s capital and has dispatched nearly 400-450 vehicles carrying thousands of troops. FACT was not looking to seize over, but rather to establish democracy and improve social services, according to the spokesperson. Concerns about violence and destabilization in Chad have the potential of resulting in a humanitarian and refugee crisis. Macaron has stated that any assault on Chad would not be tolerated.

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