12 June 2015

Chad and the African Game

Since the 1990's the United States has successfully laboured to woo Chad away from the French sphere of influence. Chad signed a big deal with Exxon in 1999 and has worked to aid US policy with regard to Sudan. The US has long opposed Khartoum and sought to facilitate the creation of South Sudan. American Christian groups and business interests have played no small part in this. Chad's own rebel movement was backed by Sudan and overlapped with the war in Darfur. Once again Chadian and American interests overlapped. Khartoum was the enemy, the same Khartoum that in the early 1990's harboured Osama bin Laden.

Now, the US is utilizing Chadian forces to move into Nigeria. While no one wants to see Boko Haram continue their murderous activities, don't be fooled. This is just as much about resources and securing Nigeria which has become very important as an oil state. The problems in the northeast will not solve the problems down on the Niger River delta but it's a step in that direction. The US also seeks to counter Chinese influence and Nigeria is a great prize. It must be preserved. The creation of South Sudan was also a great feather in the American cap. Turning off Sudan's oil tap was meant to hurt China as well.

But it hasn't gone according to plan. The Chinese aggressively sought to forge ties with South Sudan and as they have their own troubles and have faced some grief in the UN, Juba is turning to China for support.

This leads to a tug-of-war and another theatre of tension between the Chinese and the United States. It has been suggested the US is backing the opposition to Salva Kiir in an attempt to eliminate China's access to South Sudan's oil. Kiir feels betrayed by the US and Christian conservatives blame Obama for the breakdown. But if events are being understood correctly, then it would seem that corporate interests as well as the State Department and CIA would like to see Kiir either gone or changing his tune with regard to China.

The US cleared the African board in the late 1980's and early 1990's abandoning South Africa, UNITA and Savimbi as well as Mobutu of Zaire/Congo. Not all the breaks were clean but the US moved to support a new generation of African rulers, some of them almost as dictatorial. The new generation is compromised of Uganda's Museveni, Rwanda's Kagame, nations such as Kenya and Ethiopia and the one that few have noticed... Chad.

US movements in Francophone Africa have also played a part in the tensions with France. Yet once Chirac was gone, this began to calm down. Sarkozy is exactly the kind of man the Americans want to see at the French helm, and they would like to see him return to power. Hollande the current French president is at this point is too weak to raise much of a protest to US geopolitical machinations. Some will take the long view. Given America's track record with proxies, Chad may in the end return to the French sphere. Their actions will eventually generate domestic strife and make them an Islamist target. Few know of or remember Chadian involvement in the recent trouble in the Central African Republic (CAR). The US military has forged close contacts with the Chadian military and is supplying them.

Don't be fooled by the US announcement they no longer have troops in Chad. There are numerous designations that can be given to 'troops'. In addition even if a base is said to have 80 or even 200 troops that can be and often is misleading. Everyone in the military is familiar with the acronym TDY. It means temporary duty. TDY troops are regularly assigned to bases but don't 'count' as stationed troops. You can have hundreds and even thousands of troops with all their hardware rotating in and out and yet not be in any official press release.

No one can set a timetable or predict the fallout, but eventually these hatched chickens will come home to roost. It may be many years from now but when great conflicts erupt in the future few will remember the events and schemes that helped set the board. This is almost universally true but sadly it is especially true when it comes to Africa. Chad will pay a price as Kenya already is. Few African powers will be able to strike the US directly but they will most certainly strike at its allies and economic interests.

I am most saddened by the Christian record with regard to these events. It is a case of history repeating itself. We saw this all before with the Cold War and its fallout in the 1990's.

1 comment:

  1. The violence and instability have been escalating as of late. CAR brokered a deal between most of the militias but the country is a holding ground a spillover for the other fighting groups in the region. Instability in the Congo is bound to affect the periphery.