Chad: The US – Franco Struggle for Influence in Africa and the Killing of President Idriss Déby


On Tuesday 20 April the Chadian army announced that President Idriss Déby had been fatally wounded. Army spokesperson Gen. Azim Bermando Aguna announced soon after that Idriss Déby “breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield”; it was alleged he had been visiting the Chadian troops battling rebels belonging to a group calling itself the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) in northern Chad near the borders with Libya. According to a report on the Washington Post website, details of Idriss Déby’s killing remained ambiguous.

The incident occurred amidst a struggle between on the one hand the leader of FACT Mohammed Mahdi Ali, and Yaya Dillo Djérou, the leader of the opposition who was the target of an assassination plot by Idriss Déby two months ago, and on the other hand Idriss Déby who had been loyal to the US, despite maintaining friendly relations with France due to cultural considerations targeting those with Islamic tendencies in Chad and the African continent.

In order to perceive the context in which the incident took place to get rid of Idriss Déby, it is imperative to indicate that France, and despite her shrinking influence in favour of the US, she still maintains her presence on Chad’s political scene and in the Francophone countries of Africa due to the cultural ties and the security and economic interests which she defends through her military bases and some adventurous and ambitious collaborators.

It is also imperative to take into account the fact that Germany has been striving to take advantage of Joe Biden’s penchant for cooperation, alliance, and the style of soft power in dealing with the European states, and has been endeavoring to reduce the tension with Russia in order to resume their joint energy projects; this prompted Washington to harass German Chancellor Angela Merkel and demonize her to the advantage of her rivals within her party, and to ignite the Ukrainian front in order to aggravate the negative vibes between Moscow and Berlin.

Moreover, France has also exploited Biden’s approach, with Macron attempting to consolidate France’s position in her traditional areas of influence and secure French interests independently from America’s shackles, a move to which the Biden administration responded by exerting further pressure and instigating further problems which France could never solve without America’s assistance, such as the issues of Ukraine, the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and the rift with Turkey.

In addition to all of this, the US removed President Idriss Déby, who was flexible with France in Chad, and routed France’s agents in Tunisia and Algeria, such as divulging the relationship of Tunisian President Kais Saied with France and then exposing his old relationship with the CIA, thus stripping him of his popular support and driving him to visit Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi without any specific agenda and without signing any agreement with Egypt, but merely to seek support and to flirt with America; and upon his return to Tunis, he attempted to lead on the Tunisian army in confronting his opponents through his speeches, visits and repeated incitement of the armed forces.

Hence, we can perceive in this context the removal of Chadian President Idriss Déby by America, in the same manner, she pursued Congolese President Kabila whom she had backed and warned his predecessor President Mobuto by threatening to drag him through the streets of Kinshasa should he fail to hand over the reins of power to Kabila who eventually switched camps and pledged his allegiance to France during his visit to Paris, which prompted America to instruct one of his bodyguards to kill him and handed power over to his son.

America probably did away with Idriss Déby on 20 April hours after it had been announced that he had won a sixth presidential term and appointed his son Mohammed as his successor via the army. She also got rid of Mali’s president a while back to place Macron in a precarious domestic position; French newspaper Le Figaro commented on the loss of Mali by saying “the political coup in Bamako represents a setback for the French operation, and consequently, Paris’s entire strategy should be reviewed.”

America’s targeting of French interests is designed to rebuke French President Macron, deter him from exceeding his boundaries, especially in respect of NATO and his attempts to free Europe’s security from the shackles of the US, and to rein in the designs of France who had bankrolled an army of mercenaries in Mali, just like she did in the Biafra region when she secretly armed the locals to break away from Nigeria, in an attempt to undermine US influence in Africa at that time.

However, this does not mean that France is jostling with the US over the international situation because the strength of the superpowers is manifested in their influence on world politics. The US President would only have to issue a statement to attract the attention of the rest of the world in anticipation of what his statement would generate, whereas countries like China, Russia, France and Britain could scream all day without anyone batting an eyelid due to their inability to execute their willpower save within their lebensraums and in a lukewarm manner.

Hence, it is America who most probably plotted this coup which led to the demise of her agent Idriss Déby in order to curb France’s influence in Chad, especially as Mohammed Idriss Déby who has succeeded his father in office enjoys a strong relationship with the US; it is also clear that the speed in which he assumed power and in which the pertinent arrangements were executed was designed to circumvent any potential power vacuum and dissuade the French-backed opposition from pursuing the fight and entering the capital N’djamena.

An interim military council was formed and parliament and the government were dissolved despite the contradiction of these actions to Chad’s constitution which stipulates that speaker of parliament assumes power for 45 days should the post of president becomes vacant, and afterwards, general elections would be held.

Evidently, the continuance of cancer-stricken Idriss Déby in power could whet France’s appetite to oust him. Hence, America carried out this precautionary measure to secure her interests in respect of the Chadian domestic scene and its impacts on Mali, Libya, and Sudan, and in respect of Africa as a whole, exactly as she has always resorted to with regard to doing away with her agents in anticipation of their sudden departures, as was the case with the Shah of Iran after he had been diagnosed with cancer, or for reasons dictated by her interests and policies that she devises to deter her opponents or those averse to her policies. The fall of the agents who are even seemingly friendly towards France, such as Idriss Déby, would muzzle the political elites and military forces in the African continent and dissuade them from thinking about having close ties with France at the expense of the US.

In order to provide the new military council in Chad with a political cover, America instructed the countries of the Sahel and the Sahara to express their total support for the interim phase. This came after the head of the military council and the current Chadian president Mohammed Idriss Déby met the head of the African Union Commission (AUC) and reviewed with him the roadmap of the interim phase, despite the understanding reached between the African states to reject any regime seizing power through a military coup.

It is true that France mentioned in a statement that she was committed to the stability of Chad and to its regional security, and stressed the importance of a peaceful transfer of power following the demise of president Idriss Déby, but she failed to openly support the interim military council. She merely mentioned that she had been informed that an interim body had been formed to achieve a political transfer of power, whereas the reaction of the US to the new situation was customary, which indicates that the US was behind the issue in its entirety.

Copyright © LCIR 2021

Be the first to comment on "Chad: The US – Franco Struggle for Influence in Africa and the Killing of President Idriss Déby"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.