Contents: THE CIVIL WAR IN CHAD • HISTORICAL PROFILE OF THE CHADIAN CIVIL WAR • REAGAN WATCH: FIGHTING THE COLD WAR IN CHAD • This ISSUE BRIEF presents the views of Oumarou Youssoufou, OAU Ambassador to the United Nations, describes the background and causes of the conflict in Chad, and examines Reagan administration policy. The June-August fighting in Chad was the latest battle in Africa's longest-running civil war. For 18 years, as many as 11 factions have fought for control of the impoverished nation - each faction with its foreign supporters, arms suppliers, and financiers. Chief among these "outside agitators" are Libya historically and the United States currently. Despite little discernable ideological difference between the principal combatants, Hissene Habre and Goukouni Woddeye, the Reagan administration views Chad's civil war in the East-West context because of Libyan involvement, which they see as being involved in Chad at the behest of the Soviet Union. Chad, which gained independence from France in 1960, is a vast, but sparsely population landlocked nation in the northeastern corner of West Africa. More than twice the size of France, Chad has a population of only 4.9 million, which is 45% Muslim, 45% indigenous, and 15% Christian; 85% of the population is illiterate. Only 17% of the land is arable; although mineral wealth (uranium, gold, and other minerals) may be present, no means exist to exploit it. the country has one of the least developed industrial bases in Africa, and there are no railways and virtually no roads. Since 1979, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) has been seeking a solution to this seemingly unsolvable conflict. French colonial policies are among the more significant causes of today's civil war. During the 60 years of its formal rule over Chad, France denied education, political, and economic roles to large segments of the population. The newsletter quotes Chester Crocker and mentions the first OAU Summit in Cairo, colonial borders, President Ngartha Tombalbaye, FROLINAT, a national liberation movement, General Felix Malloum, Mahamat Shawa, Col. Kamougue, oil supplies, Ahmat Acyl, the Government of National Unity (GUNT), a peacekeeping force, Zaire, AWACS planes, Redeye anti-aircraft missiles, the War Powers Act, construction of U.S. bases in Chad, Pakistan, and an Islamic bomb.
Used by permission of TransAfrica Forum.
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers