Chad’s Political Turmoil sends Ripples across the Globe
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 05 Mar , 2024

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Situated amidst the vast expanse of the Sahel, a sprawling geographical region spanning over 4,000 miles along the southern perimeters of the Sahara Desert, Chad serves as a vivid portrayal of the nuanced interplay between internal dynamics and external pressures in the area. Recent events have thrust this landlocked nation into the global spotlight, illuminating the intricate balance between internal strife and external forces that define the Sahelian landscape. This heightened visibility underscores the complex web of challenges faced by Chad, highlighting the delicate equilibrium between domestic complexities and external influences that shape the region’s geopolitical landscape.

For decades, Chad has been hailed as a bastion of stability amidst the tumultuous landscape of the Sahel. However, the nation now stands at a critical juncture, wrestling with the reverberations of political violence that erupted within its capital, N’Djamena. This recent escalation serves as a poignant reminder of the precarious intersection between internal challenges and broader regional dynamics, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the nation’s future. As Chad grapples with these unsettling developments, the spectre of insecurity looms ominously, underscoring the fragility of its hard-won stability in the face of mounting pressures.

The roots of Chad’s current turmoil run deep, woven from a complex tapestry of sociopolitical unrest, economic desperation, and the contagion of military coups that have swept across the Sahel in recent years. Following the demise of President Idriss Deby Itno in April 2021, power passed to his son, Mahamat Deby, who assumed leadership of an interim Transitional Military Council (TMC). However, unlike his father’s authoritative rule, Mahamat Deby has struggled to consolidate his grip on power amidst mounting discontent from both military circles and the civilian populace.

In October 2022, a contentious choice to prolong the Transitional Military Council’s (TMC) authority, despite assurances of a prompt shift towards civilian governance, sparked violent demonstrations that exposed the longstanding grievances embedded within Chad’s socio-political framework. President Deby’s dogged quest for centralized power, mirroring the tactics of neighboring junta-led regimes, has deepened existing fault lines and stoked ethnic animosities, further destabilizing an already precarious environment. This decision not only shattered hopes for a smooth transition but also reignited simmering tensions, underscoring the fragility of Chad’s political landscape. As dissent festers and divisions deepen, the nation finds itself teetering on the brink of upheaval, grappling with the consequences of leadership decisions that have inflamed rather than assuaged societal tensions.

Recent developments have exacerbated Chad’s political turmoil, as even members of President Deby’s own family defect to the opposition, signalling fractures within the ruling Zaghawa ethnic group. The detention of Deby’s uncle and the targeted killings of opposition figures serve as stark reminders of the regime’s ruthless suppression of dissent, casting a foreboding shadow over the impending presidential elections scheduled for May and June.

Amidst this atmosphere of heightened tension, the specter of armed conflict looms ominously, particularly within the Zaghawa ethnic enclave, where government forces and opposition factions brace for potential confrontations. Adding to the complexity is the alleged involvement of external actors, including the notorious Wagner Group, whose presence further fuels fears of protracted violence and regional destabilization. The convergence of internal fissures, external influences, and simmering grievances presents a volatile cocktail that threatens to plunge Chad into deeper turmoil, with ramifications extending far beyond its borders.

As Chad grapples with internal turmoil, its delicate stability faces additional threats from external pressures, such as the withdrawal of French troops and a nationwide strike triggered by soaring fuel prices. This convergence of challenges risks creating a dangerous power vacuum and exacerbating the simmering discontent within the nation, with far-reaching consequences that extend across the Sahel region.

Yet, amidst the shadows of uncertainty, a glimmer of hope emerges- a recognition that lasting stability cannot be achieved through force alone, but through comprehensive governance reforms, economic empowerment, and regional collaboration. The crisis in Chad serves as a poignant reminder of the dangers inherent in prioritizing short-term security measures at the expense of long-term stability. It underscores the urgent need for a holistic approach that addresses root causes and embraces inclusive governance as the cornerstone of sustainable peace and prosperity in the region.

It is imperative for international stakeholders, notably Western powers, to reevaluate their involvement in the region by moving away from endorsing autocratic regimes and adopting a more equitable approach that champions human rights and democratic principles. Through strategic investments in governance reforms, economic development initiatives, and robust conflict resolution mechanisms, the global community can play a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for enduring peace and prosperity across the Sahel. This shift in strategy reflects a commitment to fostering inclusive governance structures and addressing the underlying socio-economic disparities that fuel instability, thereby promoting sustainable development and enhancing regional stability.

While the path forward for Chad remains precarious and shrouded in uncertainty, within the chaos lies a unique opportunity-an opportunity to chart a fresh course towards stability and security in the heart of Africa. By acknowledging the lessons learned from past challenges and embracing a vision of governance that is inclusive and cooperation that spans the region, Chad has the potential to emerge from its current crisis with newfound strength and resilience. Although the journey ahead may be fraught with obstacles, the destination- a Sahel characterized by peace, prosperity, and progress-is a goal worthy of the collective effort. It is through perseverance, unity, and a steadfast commitment to positive change that Chad can navigate through the crucible of crisis and emerge stronger than ever before, serving as a beacon of hope for the entire African continent.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

M A Hossain

is a political and defense analyst based in Bangladesh. He can be reached at:

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