Thursday, 20.05.2021

Public conference on the Sahel "Security crisis, terrorism and rebellion, challenges and issues after Idriss Déby

On Thursday 20 May 2021, the Peace and Security Competence Centre of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES PSCC) in collaboration with the Senegalese Social Forum organised a hybrid conference (face-to-face-virtual) on the theme "The Sahel: Security Crisis, Terrorism and Rebellion, Challenges and Stakes of the post-Idriss Déby era" at the Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Place de l'Indépendance. The objective of this activity was to carry out a cross analysis of the situation in the Sahel following the death of Chadian President Marshal Idriss Déby ITNO, who played a leading role in the security management of the area, and to contribute to the search for adequate answers to the many questions that are currently being debated.

Chad under the Marshal had become a pivot and one of the keystones in the fight against jihadism and terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa. The Chadian armed forces are in all the theatres of the fight in Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina, Mali, and recently 2000 men were deployed to the so-called tri-border area. In the eyes of its external partners, the country is a "strategic lock" at the crossroads of North, Central and Sahel Africa. The image of a poor, underpopulated and landlocked country has faded in favour of an indispensable ally in the fight against the spread of the jihadist threat in the Sahel, West and Central Africa. Today, after the death of President Idriss Déby ITNO, which was announced on 20 April 2021, many observers and analysts are asking questions about the uncertain future in the Sahel and West African region in general and in Chad in particular. Especially since a controversy has arisen over the succession of a son Déby in a military transition committee, at a time when rebels are advancing on the capital N'Djamena.

This public conference, organised in the form of a round table and in a participatory format, was multi-actor with diverse profiles from different African countries and the rest of the world. It saw the participation of state and inter-state institutions, research structures and non-governmental organisations from the sub-region that follow or work on geopolitics in the Sahel.

The discussions and exchanges brought out some very interesting conclusions. In particular, on the geostrategic level, Chad, being a highly militarised and very poor country, has played a very important role in the fight against terrorism with a courageous, operational and efficient army. With a very eventful politico-military history, it is legitimate to wonder about the consequences of the disappearance of President Idriss Déby Itno at a time when Chad continues to play a leading role in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. However, it is clear that the Chadian army is in great demand in the Sahel, while it is being questioned internally. It is therefore legitimate, even vital, to reflect on and question the future of military commitments in light of the changes that have taken place since the death of President Idriss Déby Itno. The future remains a permanent concern due to the geopolitical stakes of the moment, but above all due to the discordant voices regarding the succession of President Idriss Déby Itno. It is feared that the opponents (frustrated rebels, Chadian mercenaries, former opponents) will join forces, which could lead to instability in the country. However, it must be noted that despite much criticism at the continental level, Chad maintains its presence in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and its withdrawal is not envisaged.

Peace and Security Centre of Competence Sub-Saharan Africa

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