Sunday, 03 December 2023

Why Chad is Threatening to Pull out its Troops of the Operations of MINUSMA and the G5 Sahel

On a joint interview broadcasted on Sunday with French media - RFI, TV5 World, and the daily Le Monde – conducted in the Chadian capital N’Djamena - the Chadian president Idriss Déby Into has warned that Chad “will be in the obligation to withdraw military operations in Africa if nothing is done” to assist financially the countries which are going through a severe social and economic crisis, referring to the 1,400 Chadian soldiers serving with the UN’s MINUSMA force.

“One cannot have forces in the G5 Sahel and at the same time in another mission on the same theater. We have reached the limit of our limits; we cannot continue to be everywhere, in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Mali and monitor 1200 kilometers of border with Libya. All this costs too much and if nothing is done, Chad will unfortunately be obliged to withdraw.” Mr. Déby said.

It is obvious that Mr. Déby’s remarks came to illustrate both the funding questions and the formidable challenge of establishing the G5 Sahel group that comprising of five countries of the Sahel - Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, the force is to coordinate with MINUSMA.

Earlier this year in February, during the G5 Sahel Summit in Mali's Capital Bamako; Mr. Déby spoke frankly as current G5 chief about his expectations, saying that the Sahel G5 wants support of European countries. The region becoming "a space for terrorists" thus, immediate co-ordinate actions need to be taken. “We are going to be on the front line ourselves in the fight against terrorism; the new G5 deployment would save the lives of European soldiers." Mr. Déby stressed.

The dominant military force in the region, Chad has established itself as a key African ally for Paris and contributed roughly to the strong African Union peacekeeping mission. Chad forms the third category the most important of the United Nations Mission in Mali with 1.390 men. In addition to 2,000 Chadian soldiers are engaged in the multinational Force mixed, created in 2015 jointly by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, to fight against the Nigerian radical group Boko Haram.

Chad has a reputation as one of the region's strongest militaries, played a key role in efforts to combat Boko Haram and helped French forces drive al-Qaeda-linked fighters from northern Mali in 2013. However, experts say that the army still needs support from the West in terms of intelligence and logistics.

With the Chadian president’s decision to pull out troops; it is obvious now that lack of foreign financial support will absolutely undermine the Chadian army's activities on the African continent, which would absolutely worsen the domestic security situation, particularly in the G5 Sahel region, including Chad itself.

Even though president Déby did not give a timeline for its pullout, however, analysts say that the withdrawal could be a setback for the already overtaxed and under-resourced MINUSMA and the G5 Sahel forces.

“I am absolutely certain that the Chadians are disappointed, they believe that Chad has done too much, that he must withdraw” Mr. Déby said.

Mr. Déby’s point of view is clear, that, perhaps, the NATO and Europe’s role in North Africa helped to create the security crisis, as long as he continuously criticized the foreign military intervention in Libya. And that wealthier nations must contribute more to securing peace in the Sahel may be calculated.

Even though funding remains the crucial issue of the operations across the Sahel. However, France's president Emmanuel Macron said at the last G5 Sahel summit in Mali's capital Bamako, that his country would contribute $9m to the new force this year. He also mentioned that a contribution of 70 vehicles, without saying whether that was included in the sum.

But if we look further beyond the Chadian and African jungles and its Guerrillas; the initiative of the G5 Sahel - Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso - as forming the basis of an eventual exit strategy for around 4,000 French troops now deployed to the volatile region - under the name Barkhane operation. However, Macron said Paris had no plans to withdraw its troops from the Sahel.

But Macron played down speculation that he was seeking to reduce the burden on France's cross-border Barkhane Operation, saying in a meeting with Mali's French community following the summit that Paris would remain engaged for as long as it takes.

"Every day we must combat terrorists, thugs, murderers, whose names and faces we must forget, but whom we must steadfastly and with determination eradicate together," Macron said at the summit in Mali's capital Bamako.

On the other hand, while Sunday's summit marked a step forward in the plan to set up the new African forces, it still faces a number of obstacles – particularly for President Idriss Déby of Chad, which possesses the region's most capable military.

Moreover, and from an African perspective, I consider the G5 Sahel is a solution that creates new problems, in a scenario where there’s no more room to play games of chance for money on the risks.

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