Chad Table of Contents
A representative of the International Committee of the
Red Cross visits prisoners of war in the Tibesti Mountains
Courtesy International Committee of the Red Cross (Claire Bellmann)
Following his assumption of power in 1982, Habré faced both Goukouni's GUNT forces in the north and resistance by armed dissidents in the south, principally former gendarmes and soldiers of FAT. Government troops trying to establish control in the south were attacked, as were people and installations connected with the government and the state cotton company, Cotontchad. In response to these attacks, government forces adopted harshly repressive tactics. Reprisals were taken, often against innocent civilians. Suspected sympathizers of the dissidents were likely to be executed or to disappear.
The violence in the south diminished for a time after the government adopted more conciliatory tactics beginning in late 1983. In mid-1984, however, the guerrilla groups known collectively as codos launched a new series of attacks. During this period, many civilians were attacked by both government and rebel forces. Villagers suspected of complicity with the insurgents were often executed without trial, or they suffered the destruction of their homes and crops. There were also reports of codo atrocities against local officials or civilians cooperating with the government. Under conditions of de facto martial law, government troops exercised little restraint in their efforts to curb the rebellion.
Numerous incidents of noncombatant deaths and detentions were also reported in the northern battle zone, as control over towns shifted between FANT and the forces of GUNT. Both armies were accused of executions and detentions of private citizens suspected of collaboration with opposing forces.
By 1986 most of the codos had accepted government offers of amnesty, and the turmoil in the south had been replaced by a calmer atmosphere. In addition, the enforcement of a military code of justice and strict punishment of undisciplined soldiers had helped to curb the political killings and disappearances. Many earlier political detainees who could not be found, however, were assumed to have been killed without trial.
As of 1988, most of the contending factions that had kept Chad in a state of turmoil and instability had been assimilated into the unified military establishment of FANT. Under these circumstances, and with the activities of former rebels subject to scrutiny by various intelligence networks within the military, incipient defections could be kept in check. Moreover, Habré was placing increasing reliance on the well-equipped and trusted Presidential Guard to maintain internal control.
The only outbreak of dissidence had occurred among the Hajerai ethnic group from the Guéra Massif, who had been prominent in the original rebellion of the mid-1960s and in the ranks of Habré's FAN (see Languages and Ethnic Groups , ch. 2). In late 1986, after a series of incidents between Toubou troops and Hajerai soldiers, a group of Hajerai who felt that they were being pushed out of positions of influence formed the underground Movement for the National Salvation of Chad (Mouvement pour le Salut National du Tchad--MOSANAT). Its head was an army lieutenant and former prefect of Guéra Prefecture, Boda Maldoun.
Following the harassment of many Hajerai by the military police in mid-1987, MOSANAT armed insurrection in Guéra was restrained by the Presidential Guard. As of early 1988, the MOSANAT reportedly was operating from bases in western Sudan, in alliance with the remnants of other rebellious Chadian factions that had formed part of GUNT. The Habré regime faced no immediate danger from the group, but the uprising underscored the fact that failure to accommodate the various ethnic and regional interests in the army could lay a foundation for renewed domestic instability and violence.
* * *
The monthly Afrique défense (available in English as African Defence Journal) regularly treats military developments in Chad. Its accounts of the fighting in northern Chad in 1986 and 1987 are fairly comprehensive, covering the tactics employed, the equipment used, and the size and caliber of the forces involved. Reports in Jeune Afrique and the New York Times also provide details on the main engagements. In the CSIS Africa Notes series, William J. Foltz appraises the politico-military situation in Chad in the latter part of 1987, in the wake of the Chadian successes. A study by Alex Rondos in the same series assesses earlier phases of the Chadian Civil War.
A concise military history of Chad between 1960 and early 1986 can be found in an article by Bernard Lanne in Africa South of the Sahara, 1987. Conflict in Chad by Virginia M. Thompson and Richard Adloff interprets the sources of the struggle among the Chadian armed factions preceding the Libyan intervention of 1980. Additional and more recent analysis is included in a survey by Michael P. Kelley. An article by David S. Yost examines the French perspective on the warfare in Chad before 1983. Opération manta, a book by the pseudonynous French officer, "Colonel Spartacus," provides detail on the political and military aspects of French involvement in 1983 and 1984. Samuel Decalo's Historical Dictionary of Chad provides useful information on the various armed factions and their leaders. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of December 1988
Chad Table of Contents