Africa Notes: What Can Oil Do for Troubled Chad? - April 1994
April 1, 1994
A February 4 New York Times item on the World Court's decision in a territorial dispute between Chad and Libya marks a rare mention of Chad in a U.S. newspaper. Although the country generated plenty of headlines a decade or more ago, a look at the New York Times index for the 1990s reveals coverage following the December 1990 overthrow of the government, plus brief interest in guerrilla activity during January 1992. Otherwise, events in Chad have been ignored by the Times and, with few exceptions, by the rest of the U.S. media as well. Scholarly interest is equally thin. A U.S. academic publisher, when recently asked about the market potential for a possible book about Chad, responded that "We couldn't give it away."
Nevertheless, another look at Chad is overdue. A new factor has entered the picture: oil. The potential income stream from petroleum production, if it materializes, may prove a boon to the country as a whole; on the other hand, the social and political repercussions may generate new conflict among ethnic factions that have already experienced more than a generation of bloodshed.