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Sudan, Chad Back on the Right Track

Sudanese –Chadian relations are considered key to overcoming Darfur crises and achieving peace in the region. These relations go back to prior independence when African states were under colonist state control. Sudan was under British colonization and Chad was under French control. Since that time, security, particularly in east Chad and west Sudan has been a major issue of concern. Sudan- Chad relations have not focused on commercial, economic and cultural aspects. Whenever Sudanese –Chadian relations were discussed, security and stability topped the agenda of meetings between the two parties contrary to relations with Egypt and Libya which mainly focused on economy, culture or development. Due to inter-tribal mingling between Chad and Sudan the relations between the two countries have become strategic but have gone through various tensions sometimes amounting to military confrontation. It is not easy to normalize these relations, according to a number of researchers. What commits Sudan to Chad during Debby’s term of office is the latter came to power from within Sudan? Therefore relations during this time have gone through excellent stage due to his gratefulness, says Dr. Khaled Hussien, director of Sudan Center for Strategic Studies. There are major factors that have contributed to stability of these relations, most importantly Debby’s fear of emergence of movements against his government as well as his gratefulness to Sudan government, adds Hussien. “Debby is extremely keen on relations with Sudan,” indicated columnist Adbellah Khatir, adding that Chad was in support of Sudan even before the rebellion in Darfur. He stated that Chad refused to allow opportunity for the opposition Democratic Alliance to exercise its activities against Sudan in mid 90s. When Darfur armed movements emerged Chad played mediating role. The relations were good 100%. N’djamena set negotiations plans to defuse the crises in 2003.

Causes of Tension
Tensions in Sudanese – Chadian relations were caused by foreign interventions and eruption of rebellion in Darfur, said Dr. Khaled Hussien. Unfortunately, Justice and Equality Movements JEM led by Dr. Ibrahim Khalil, who belongs to the same tribe of Idris Debby, Chad’s president, which put the president in swaying position whether to maintain his ties with Sudan and respond to his tribe pressure for backing JEM. France’s intervention of asking Debby to back Darfurian rebellion tremendously affected Sudanese-Chadian relations, Hussien said. After studying the situation, Chad responded to France’s demand at the expense of Sudan because France provided every support to Debby to arrive in power while Sudan provided the ground from which it set off. Accordingly, Sudan began to adopt tit for tat in dealing with Chad although both countries are fully aware that had there been foreign interventions their relations would have not deteriorated. 

Common Interest

Abdallah Khatir said strategically Chad and Sudan should be in partnership for the sake of peace, economy, and trade, regional and local security. He added the regions situated in south Libya down to the Lakes have problems and conflicts in common hence requires resolving the matter but such  settlement should not be confined to the state level but should also involve the peoples of the two countries. Sudan has to boost relations with Chad considering that Darfur crises are strongly connected to improvement of conditions in Chad so as to arrive at peaceful settlement to the crises in Darfur.

Movements in Capitals

Eventually, the last year witnessed concerted moves to normalize ties between the two neighboring states. Hope for reviving normalization of relations was revived when presidential advisor Dr. Ghazi Saleh Adin took charge of the Darfur file. He pushed the process of normalization forward starting in the Chadian capital of N’djamena late last year. Parties to the conflict were brought together. The plan included visits to Paris, Cairo, Tripoli and Doha. Through these moves, Ghazi was able to make breakthrough, which culminated in the visit of a Chadian delegation made up of Chad’s foreign affairs minister, Musa Al-Faki, parliament speaker, and leader of military and security. The visit marked the beginning of the implementation of what was debated and agreed upon in previous rounds. The two sides expressed commitment to the necessities for implementation of security protocol. Justice and Equality Movement, JEM, had described such moves as not affecting its presence but hailed the initiatives for reconciliation. The significance of normalizing ties with Chad goes to the Qatari mediation, chief caller for improving relations. Qatar’s foreign affairs minister announced during a visit to N’djamena last November, “we always rely on Chadian role because we believe that it has a key role in this respect. Resolving Darfur issue will solve various problems between Sudan and Chad.”

Armed movement’s future

The presence of armed movements from both sides in the two countries is on top of the agenda of debate between the two parties. When the two sides reach a settlement to this matter all other will be solved successively. The question is what is the future of the movements in the two states?

Chad’s consul to Sudan, Hussein Jeddah denied in statements existence of any JEM camps inside his country but attributed the movements of some Darfurian movements inside Chad to vast borders between the two states and difficulty to control them. However, he expressed optimism about resuming relations arguing that the presence of movements was the reasons for the tension.

In this context, Jeddah announced that Sudanese government had withdrawn Chadian opposition force 400km back to borders with Chad; a move greeted by announcement or readiness to mitigate the activities of Sudanese opposition inside its soil on the part of N’djamena, one of the most important steps for translating the agreement into action.

The position of Sudanese and Chadian movements

Under the development in Sudanese- Chadian relations both countries began to be uneasy. JEM’s spokesperson Ahmed Hussien had welcomed the rapprochement between the two states and indicated that improvement of relations and security conditions should boost stability among Sudanese refuges in Chad. On the other hand, JEM’s advisor Dr. Jibril said the recent reconciliation between Sudan and Chad was within the framework of improving relations between the two countries for common interests. Therefore, the reconciliation was natural. He added that his movement would not be affected by this normalization.

For its part, the Chadian opposition welcomed the agreement and announced its readiness to accept any just mediation between Debby government but at the same time attacked JEM accusing it of destroying relations between the two states and intervening in Chad’s affairs. Dr. Mohammed Sharif Jadien, director general of the opposition alliance said the system in Chad, 70% relied on JEM, which sometimes fought for Debby’s regime. He argued that his movements would not be affected by the recent agreement as they get support from within Chad contrary to JEM because the Chadian opposition is not only present along Sudanese –Chadian borders but also along borders with Libya and west of Chad.

Observers see that the movements will resort the new bases and Central Africa Republic will be an option for both parties in this connection, if that happened it would lead to violent confrontations between them. But there are expectations that the oppositions group might face pressures to enter into settlements within respective governments whether in Doha with regard to JEM or Tripoli as the case with the Chadian opposition. In any case, the matter depends on the change of bases or rules of the game.

Building Confidence

After diagnosis made by Dr. Ghazi Salah Adin, in charge of Darfur file, requirements of normalization of relations have become clear.  Confidence between the two sides and concessions will be enough for determining the final destination for Sudanese-Chadian relations train, which is on the verge of bringing relations back to normal.

Abdallah Khatir, expert in Darfur affairs, said agreement between the two countries would be a suitable introduction for the movements to respond to it because reconciliation made was a historic step to which both governments must make concessions for the interest of the region. Khatir was optimistic that JEM make a brave step in response to Doha’s call as well as the government in order to reach just settlement with the movements because it is the only way to ensure the entire security of the regime.

In the same context, presidential advisor Dr. Ghazi Salah Adin said the only way to implement the joint agreement between the two neighbors is through confidence, which needs to be built by taking practical procedures as means of arriving at the objective. Ghazi downplayed that such steps would be affected by French interventions, citing French welcome to the reconciliation. He added, “In my political estimation it is for the interest of France or any other party influential in the region to see relations between Sudan and Chad remains normal as was serves nobody.”

Border Control

The Chadian consulate to Sudan, Hussein Jeddah earlier expressed concern about how to control common borders because of their being vast and difficult to control; however, the meeting held in N’djamena on January 8, 2010, between the joint political committee headed by Dr. Ghazi Saleh Adin and Chad’s foreign minister, Musa Al-Faki. At the same time the technical joint military committee met to make final arrangements for ending differences over border monitoring and banning opposition activities in both countries. While the political committee discussed pending political issues and normalization of relations culminating in forming a joint force to prevent rebels sneak into both states. The head of Sudan’s delegation, Major General Esmat Abdurrahman said Confidence between the two sides should be resorted because without it no agreement would be effective.

On his part, the secretary- general of Chad’s ministry of foreign relations, Musa Daghou Ali said it was necessary to hold those talks on mutual confidence basis so that it will be possible to take tangible measures on the ground to end negative forces on common borders. The recent developments were a practical step to implement the agreement signed between the two countries on August 28, 2006.


Source:-“The Image” Magazine

February 2010 Vol.1 Issue No.(20)

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