President Idriss Deby of Chad is one of the world’s longest-ruling national leaders, having first taken power in an armed rebellion in 1990. Since then, the country has continued to struggle with high rates of poverty and severe developmental challenges, even as security forces ruthlessly suppress every sign of dissent.
Under Deby’s enduring rule, Chad has also taken on a number of important roles in regional security and counterinsurgency efforts that are backed by Western governments, including France, Chad’s former colonizer. Those efforts have earned Deby considerable loyalty in Paris and other Western capitals, but they may also be testing the limits of Chad’s military.
The aging dictator announced a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month in preparation to run for president yet again in 2021. But just how far is Deby willing to go to hold on to power? And how far are Western backers willing to go to help him do so?
For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the RAND corporation, to discuss Deby’s three-decade reign and Chad’s outsized security role in the Sahel. Click here to read a transcript of an excerpt from the interview.
Relevant Articles on WPR:
Will Chad’s Deby Suffer the Same Fate as Bashir in Sudan?
Al-Qaida and ISIS Turn On Each Other in the Sahel, With Civilians in the Crossfire
How Counterinsurgency Campaigns Are Fueling Human Rights Abuses in the Sahel
Deby Set to Keep Power in Chad Election, but Discontent Is Growing
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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.
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