Officials from Chad and Sudan are weighing a proposed treaty that would create a framework for joint patrols of their shared border, along and around Sudan's Darfur province. If fully implemented, the security pact proposed in late-December could help lay the groundwork for peace talks with rebel groups, aimed at reducing cross-border violence that has claimed thousands of lives in Chad and Sudan since 2005.
Central Africa's arid deserts and lush forests are the scene of complex, overlapping conflicts over land, resources, ethnicity, religion and political power. Chad accuses Sudan of sponsoring rebel groups, based in Sudan, that threaten farmers and refugees in Chad. At the peak of their power in early 2008, columns of Chadian rebel fighters even managed to penetrate defenses around Chad's capital, N'Djamena. Sudan denies sponsoring the groups.
In turn, Sudan accuses Chad of supporting rebel groups in Sudan -- a charge Chad also denies. Darfur, with its warring ethnic factions, represents the center of gravity for much of this tension: Ethnic African fighters opposed to Khartoum's Arab-dominated regime secretly operate out of U.N. refugee camps for displaced Darfuris in eastern Chad.