Africa Notes: Why Chad? - August 1983
August 31, 1983
To those who follow developments in Chad, there is a strong sense of déjà vu about the latest twists in this unlikely nation’s long civil war. Over the years, this conflict has degenerated into a type of gang warfare in which as many as 11 factions mirroring precolonial ethnic and religious differences have consciously and skillfully turned themselves into surrogates of foreign powers in order to assert themselves within Chad’s extraordinarily complex political-military scene. The Libyans have been in Chad before, as have the French, and Chad’s domestic political jigsaw puzzle remains obstinately unassembled. But the U.S. military presence is something new. Indeed, this is the first time that one of the superpowers has been drawn into a direct and open involvement in the protracted civil war that has been part of Chadian life for nearly two decades.