Geopolitics

The Killing Of Chad's President Is A Blow In Battle Against Jihad

Paris has considered Chad's army to be the most solid, experienced and tenacious in the region. But the death of Idriss Déby could change the dynamics in the French-backed fight against jihadists in the Sahel region of Africa.

The strategists of Operation Barkhane could not have imagined worse news. The announcement Tuesday of Chadian President Idriss Déby's death as a result of his wounds "on the battlefield" has stunned the French military. This authoritarian leader, who has been in power for more than 30 years, had been their main ally in the fight against terrorism in the vast Sahel region of north-central Africa. And now, this key player in a protracted war that began in 2013 is gone.

Military cooperation between France and Chad dates back to 1986. And as soon as France launched the regional anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane in 2014, Chad hosted its main command post. Since then, it is from the capital of N'Djamena that most of the actions on the ground are centralized and coordinated — even though the French military has forward bases in Mali. N'Djamena is also one of the two air bases — along with Niamey, in Niger — from which Barkhane planes take off.

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The Latest: Chad President Killed On Frontline, Doubts Over India COVID Toll, Hiking Cat

Welcome to Tuesday, where Chad's president is reportedly killed on the front lines, Minnesota braces for a verdict in the George Floyd murder trial and Switzerland celebrates its mountain-climbing cat. Indian news website The Wire also takes us to Delhi, where real estate dealers are pushing Muslim families to sell their houses and move out, increasing segregation and even ghettoization.

• Doubts over India's COVID death count, France launches travel pass: In India, constant cremations in some states cast doubts on the real number of COVID-related deaths. Meanwhile, France is launching a COVID health pass for travel to its overseas territories, hoping it will be extended to European Union member states.

• Chad's president Idriss Deby reportedly killed: Chad's veteran president was killed while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north of the country, army officials said. The announcement comes just one day after Idriss Deby won a sixth term in office.

• Pakistan weighs expulsion of French envoys: Pakistan's parliament will consider a resolution to expel French diplomats following French President Emmanuel Macron's defense last year of the right to publish satirical cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet. This debate comes amid negotiations with the now-banned far-right and anti-France TLP party, after days of violent protests that saw four policemen killed and over 800 wounded.

• Derek Chauvin trial in jury's hands: Thousands of National Guard members and hundreds of police officers have been deployed in Minneapolis, as the whole nation awaits the verdict in the trial of former police officer Chauvin, charged with murder in the death of George Floyd. Cities across the country are already bracing for protests.

• Former U.S. VP Walter Mondale dies: Jimmy Carter's vice president and longtime Minnesota senator Walter Mondale died Monday at the age of 93. Mondale lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election.

• German chancellor election: Leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet has been elected as his party's candidate to succeed Angela Merkel in the Chancellery in September's election. Annalena Baerbock has also been selected as Green Party's candidate, as the Greens' popularity keeps rising.

• To the top of the meowntain: A cat lost on the slopes of a mountain in Switzerland tagged along with two hikers and arrived at the top of their 3,000-meter (10,000-ft) climb, before being reunited with its owners at a lower altitude.

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Watch: OneShot — Marco Gualazzini''s Almajiri Boy

An iconic image from Italian photojournalist's reportage from Chad, which won the World Press Photo award for environmental series.

Italian photojournalist Marco Gualazzini of the Contrasto agency was awarded the 2019 World Press Photo award for environment, stories, for his reportage on the humanitarian crisis underway in the Chad Basin as a result of massive desertification. Among the consequences are the jihadist group Boko Haram exploiting the hardship and hunger. Charged with symbolism, this particular image from the series was also a finalist for World Press Photo of the Year.


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Fallujah Surrounded, Snowden "Service", Cheese Rolling

SPOTLIGHT: CHAD, THE TIME OF JUSTICE

Since the post-War trials of Nazi leaders in Nuremberg, the world has wrestled with the task of bringing the worst of humanity to account for their crimes. It is a challenge that requires both courage from the individual victims and a commitment to justice by society at large. It also, in some cases, requires an abundance of patience and determination. By the time a court in Senegal sentenced Hissene Habre to life in jail yesterday for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Chad's former dictator had been out of power for more than 25 years. The decision by authorities in Senegal — where Habre had taken refuge in 1990 after a coup — to arrest him in 2013 was key to the conviction, but observers also noted the decades of work by activists and victims, both inside and outside of Chad, who never gave up on the case.


Now 73, Habre reigned over his country with what the judges said was "a system where impunity and terror were the law." Some 40,000 people were killed and many others kidnapped, raped and tortured during his eight-year term as president of Chad. Beyond the scale of his crime, one particularly powerful part of the verdict was the judges' ruling that Habre had personally raped Khadidja Hassan four times.


Many of the defeated despots of history wind up dead by their own hand (Hitler, Pol Pot) or those of their enemies (Mussolini, Richard III). But when men and women of peace mete out justice in an open court of law, it sends a message of progress — and persistence — to both the good and evil people of this world.

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Chad Joins Africa's Biometric Voting Bandwagon

Next year's Chad elections will represent a novelty for the central African country. No, not a new president. Chadian voters are being asked to register to vote biometrically.

Although this method is relatively absent in more developed countries, it isn't exactly an innovation in Africa, and Chad will become the 30th country to adopt registration that uses unique physical identification of voters, Jeune Afrique reports. Voters have 45 days to register in the country's first biometrical census, ahead of the general election planned for February 2016.

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Geopolitics
Christophe Boltanski

Reed Brody, My Life As A Despot Hunter

For the past 30 years, the American lawyer has been hunting down former despots all over the world. The trial of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, which opened last month, is the latest fruit of his work.

NEW YORK — Surrounded by Chadian soldiers, Reed Brody makes his way up the front steps of an abandoned colonial building in the center of N'Djamena, Chad's capital city. He glances at the bare dirt-stained walls, then lowers his head. He walks through a sea of paperwork. He bends down, picks up a sheet of paper, then another, turns his back on the soldiers, and surreptitiously shoves a bundle in his briefcase.

Everywhere, the ground is strewn with police records, prisoner lists, reports with "Republic of Chad — Documentation and Security Directorate" (DDS) headers. "We'll bring boxes over and put all this at your disposal," an official dressed in a suit and tie offers him. The American lawyer opens his eyes wide: "Really?"

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Geopolitics
Christophe Châtelot

Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Tell Of Horrors

In Chad, savage accounts from the first wave of refugees after reported massacres in Nigeria. Meanwhile, forces Wednesday have begun to step up the military response to Boko Haram.

BAGA SOLA — Idriss Déby is a living miracle. To be clear, this is another Idriss Déby, not the Chadian President, who shares the same name, and who is also in his own way a lucky survivor after resisting countless rebellions. The latest of course, as of mid-January, is a new war being waged against Boko Haram and its Islamist fighters terrorizing the populations along the border with Nigeria.

This other Idriss Déby is instead a newborn baby, brought into the world in a dugout canoe by a Nigerian family fleeing on Lake Chad from the murderous Islamist sect in the northern region of their country, just 70 kilometers from here. Little Idriss now lives under a tent of the United Nations Refugee Agency in the hastily set-up camp of Dar es Salaam, Chad, about 10 kilometers from the port of Baga Sola.

“Idriss Déby is Chad’s leader. And so it’s thanks to him that we’re here, alive. So I named my son in his honor,” explains the father, Oumara Estivi. He, his wife Aïcha and their seven children washed up, destitute but alive, on the Chadian shores of the lake where the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad meet. Seven children of their own, plus a two-year-old girl they rescued during their escape.

Like most of the 5,000 refugees in this camp, the Estivis bolted from northeastern Nigeria during the series of Boko Haram attacks on the city of Baga and the surrounding villages in early January, during which 2,000 are believed to have been killed.

“We’re from Doron Baga, on the lakefront,” says the father, a fisherman like many others in the region. “When we heard what had happened in Baga and I saw Boko Haram approaching, I immediately took a canoe and we went to Kangalam, the first Chadian village, on an island.” The Chadian authorities came for them a few days later and drove them to Dar es Salaam.

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