agreed to allow 3,000 European peacekeepers to set up shop along the Sudanese
border, and protect several hundred Sudanese and Chadian refugees from attack.
Some of the attackers have been Chadian soldiers, so this bit of peacekeeping
could get tricky. The Sudanese border is out-of-control, with rebels from Chad
and Sudan, as well as Chadian soldiers and bandits from both countries,
fighting each other. All these gunmen live off raiding villages and refugee
camps. Some receive support from the governments of Chad or Sudan (a few have
managed to take payments from both governments). Some of the local people
believe the Europeans can sort it all out. The Europeans are not so sure, but
are committed to giving it a try.
September 15, 2007: Chad's
neighbor, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been torn by a tribal conflict
since November 2001, when former CAR Army Chief of Staff General Francois
Bozize and his supporters fled to Chad after fighting broke out in CAR's
capital Bangui. For two years, Libya provided troops to help keep the new government secure. But
in 2003, Bozize and his armed followers returned, and the unpopular Ange-Félix Patassé fled. Sort of.
Patassé supporters, and people who simply opposed Bozize, or government in
general, got guns, and adopted an attitude that they are a law unto themselves.
Northwestern CAR was always a lawless place, made worse by years of civil war
in nearby Chad, and heavy poaching activity from nearby Sudan.
The area is sparsely
populated, dry and lightly policed. Smugglers and nomads move about, and have
always carried weapons for protection. Since the demise of the Soviet Union in
1991, the area has been flooded by cheap weapons, especially AK-47s, RPGs and light
machine-guns. The current disorder in CAR, and the inability to suppress it, is
an all too common state of affairs in this part of the world. Although Bozize
has run elections, democracy does not automatically overcome tribalism. The
unrest in the border area between CAR, Chad and Sudan has been been going on
for a long, long time. It's not likely to go away any time soon, but it is also
unlikely to rise above the level of civil disorder and banditry.
Nearly two years ago, Followers of former president Ange-Félix Patassé somehow got financing for
another uprising. Gunmen were hired, by professional organizers, for a major
military operation. It's difficult to keep these things secret, although you
can hide the identity of the top people for a while. Where's the money coming
from? Libya used to be the usual suspect, but has said publicly that they are
out of the coup game. The most likely supporter is Sudan, which has been
financing rebel groups in several neighboring countries.
Current president Franτois
Bozize has many enemies, including many soldiers he demobilized after he took
power in 2003. These former soldiers are unhappy with the payments they
received for their faithful service (in supporting the Bozize coup against
Patassé.) Some of these lads have taken to banditry, others still have their
guns, and would be willing to use them again for a big payday. Bozize has formed a "presidential
guard" of some of the nastiest gunmen available, and turned them loose on
any area that seems to be supporting opposition to the government. The
presidential guard is basically a terror force, killing and looting to make
their point. Bozize also has the support
of France, for the moment. France wants peace and quiet. At the moment, Bozize
is the only viable leader in CAR, but the minute a better one shows up,
the French will likely drop Bozize.