Briefing Paper

The Chadian dilemma

This Brief Report deals with the civil war in Chad and growing outside intervention in the conflict. If annexed by Libya, it could become part of the Soviet sphere of influence, and France’s military involvement has led to fears of heightened French interest in the region.

Since becoming independent, Chad has been clogged by civil war. Since 1960, due to numerous factions, no government has been universally recognised as legitimate, and instability has become inherent. This has led to intervention by Libya and France. Libya wants to annex the Aozou Strip, while France seeks to protect Chad’s territorial integrity.

The conflict eventually involved the United States, which had little interest in Chad before the situation deteriorated in Libya’s favour. The US channelled finance and arms to Chad in 1981. The Soviet Union has limited involvement in the region. They endorse Libya’s claim to the Aozou Strip, but have mostly left strategic planning to its African allies. A major battle for the territory seems probable in the near future.

French policy in Chad has aimed for eventual withdrawal, but has shifted to support a military solution under the Chirac government, and France will remain enmeshed in the conflict, despite the economic burden of maintaining Chad. On a wider scale, France could look increasingly to the US for aid, provided that US do not change its foreign policy.