Chad downsizes its armed forces in the Sahel: Islamist terrorism and France
Boutros Hussein and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The armed forces of Chad are known throughout the Sahel and Lake Chad region for their professionalism in fighting against several Sunni Islamist terrorist groups. However, political tensions and other negative forces beset Chad. Therefore, since the death of President Idriss Déby Itno who died on the frontline earlier this year, political uncertainty has increased.
His son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, along with the trusted generals of his later father, now heads the Transitional Military Council (Conseil militaire de transition – CMT). Yet, many people in Chad want greater political representation. Hence, the situation is very delicate internally – while the armed forces of Chad help regional nations in their respective struggles against various Sunni Islamist terrorist groups.
France is also reducing its armed forces in the Sahel. Similarly, despite France outwardly saying they desire greater political representation in Chad, the elites in France understand the importance of this nation in stemming terrorism throughout the Sahel and in the Lake Chad region. Therefore, France desires stability in Chad concerning the war on terrorism and geopolitical factors.
The G5 Sahel framework applies to Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Likewise, the armed forces are active in the Lake Chad region that concerns Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria. Thus, the armed forces of Chad are on the frontline against various Islamist insurgencies and terrorist groups.
France is also reducing its armed forces throughout the Sahel region concerning various factors. Hence, the announcement that Chad will reduce its 1,200 military troops by half highlights internal factors – along with restructuring concerning the need for greater mobility rather than heavier weapons.
Reuters reports (published on Voice of America), “Chad deployed the soldiers in February to support a France-backed regional fight with insurgents linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State who have destabilized swaths of territory in West Africa’s Sahel region in recent years.”
Chad will redeploy its armed forces to border areas in the north. This concerns Libya and Sudan. Therefore, the CMT is seeking to shore ups its power base internally – while restructuring in the Sahel to counteract the mobility of various terrorist forces.
President Emmanuel Macron earlier this year said, “France will never let anyone, either today or tomorrow, challenge Chad’s stability and integrity.”
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