African studiesSecurity studies

The winners and losers from the killing of Chadian President Idriss Deby

Prepared by: Mohamed Adel Othman – Researcher in African Affairs 

  • Arab Democratic Center

The late Chadian President Idriss Déby came to power in 1990 when his forces overthrew the then Chadian president, Hossein Habré, and worked to lead the country after that with a security grip on him and was able to survive several previous attempts to overthrow him and confront the armed revolutions ( [i] ) (and he remained in power. Nearly thirty years ago, a group calling itself the “Front for Change and Reconciliation” ( [2] ) succeeded in assassinating him after they made their way from Libya to Chad and attacked a security post on the northern border and entered the country and called for the need to end Deby’s presidency.

Deby worked to make Chad an important axis in the African security system, especially in the Sahel and Sahara region, which makes his death set multiple scenarios for countries working to combat organized crime and terrorism in Africa, and this policy created friends and enemies for Idris Deby and his policy, whether internally or externally, Therefore, this paper deals with the strategic importance of Chad in addition to the winners and losers of Chadian President “Idriss Deby”.

  • The strategic importance of Chad
  • The winners and losers from the killing of Idriss Deby

First: the strategic importance of Chad

The strategic importance of the country of Chad in Africa for the international community lies in the fact that it is located on the side of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and Western powers consider it to a large extent a decisive country in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel in addition to its role in maintaining the security situation in Sudan in the Darfur region and its role in preserving The northern border with southern Libya, where illegal immigrants and terrorist elements flowed to and from the Sahel region, and the strategic importance of Chad and Idriss Déby in particular can be indicated through the following points:

1- The Joker Paper:       

The late Chadian President Idriss Déby succeeded in establishing strong relations with Washington and Paris, which he benefited from by overlooking the country’s human rights record ( [3] ) , and therefore because of Déby’s acquisition of a strong reputation in military tactics and plans as a result of his participation in the Libyan-Chadian war that occurred In the eighties of the last century, France and the United States supported Idriss Deby in playing a strong role in addressing security issues in the Sahel and Sahara region and in other files of concern to the two countries and in creating even relative stability in some files and issues. For example, Western powers supported Deby in hosting More than a million refugees have been from Darfur for more than a decade, but it has facilitated and financed many relief operations there and allowed Western humanitarian organizations, human rights monitors and journalists easy access to his country to investigate crimes inside the refugee camps there ([iv] ( .

  1. The war on terror:

Chad is considered one of the countries that recently represented a pillar in confronting terrorist groups in the Sahel and Sahara region, as the Chadian army played a strong role in cooperation with the French forces in fighting militant groups and other terrorist gangs, which made it one of the armies that are considered experienced in guerrilla wars.

As usual , the policy of France after colonization efforts in the direction of maintaining colonies worked on the use of Chad , a strong participant in its policy in the Sahel region , but that Chad in 2013 provided a battalion made up of (2000) troops to support the process (serval) in northern Mali ( [-v] ( did not This interest is limited to this point, France has worked, since August 2014, to make Chad the headquarters and presence of Operation Barkhane, and Chad was hosting (200) armored vehicles, (6) combat aircraft and (3000) French soldiers stationed permanently.

Internally, Chad was able to market itself as a major player with France in the war on terror in Central Africa and the Sahel region. In July 2015, the Chadian parliament adopted a law to combat terrorism and reintroduced the death penalty. Indeed, the Chadian army is considered the strongest among the armies of Central Africa ( [vi] ) ( its forces have witnessed The number of soldiers rose from (17,000) soldiers in 1990 to (25,350), and military spending represents 6.6% of the gross domestic product, and it ranks 90th in the world according to the last classification of the Global Fire Power website ( [vii] ) .

Second: The winners and losers from the death of Debbie  

Certainly, the killing of Idriss Déby has positive repercussions for some and negative for others, as there are those who will benefit from being absent from the scene, in addition to that there are other parties who will lose, which will be indicated in these following points:

1- The winners:

  • Terrorist groups : After the announcement of the death of Déby, the Chadian army announced the closure of the land borders with neighboring countries in anticipation of any developments or the outbreak of terrorist acts or violence inside the country and this is due to the wide connection between Chad and its neighboring countries, from the north there is the Libyan south, from the east Sudan and from the west Niger and Nigeria These are unstable areas for security, which may allow the terrorist groups present there to contemplate any terrorist act coming from these borders.

In northern Niger and Nigeria, the two borders with Chad, there is a broader movement of ISIS and Boko Haram elements, which means that these groups may think in the future to launch terrorist operations inside the country, taking advantage of the confusion that may result from the assassination that took place ( [viii] ) . Southern Libya to Chad and Niger represent a major security threat to regional peace and security.

  • The armed opposition : Among the most prominent beneficiaries of Déby’s death are the Chadian armed opposition elements, as this opposition may tend to ignite an internal conflict with Deby’s supporters internally, as there are nearly 100 opposition vehicles that succeeded in crossing Chad carrying more than 500 rebels. And the anti-government, but these parties announced that they had taken control of an army weapons depot and declared their control over the entire Kanem area, which is located at a point close to the capital N’Djamena and only 150 km away from it. ( [Ix] )

2- The Losers :

The most prominent parties that may be affected by the killing of Idriss Déby can be pointed out through the following points:

  • Western partners: As already mentioned, France and the United States are entering into a strong partnership in terms of security with Idriss Deby, especially France through the Multinational Five Sahel Initiative, in which Washington and Paris are key participants. Therefore, Deby’s departure from the scene according to the aforementioned referred to who might pay By intensifying its military forces in the Sahel region, despite the fact that the security importance of Idriss Deby had been disrupted before his death as a result of the open borders, which prompted the French elites to talk about the feasibility of this support provided by Paris and that the military solution in the Sahel and Sahara region would not be the solution. The ideal is to eliminate security and political crises in light of fragile democracies supported by France ( [x] ) and talk began to escalate about the need to focus on development aid, strengthening institutions, providing services, and civil society participation in governance.
  • Neighboring countries : The killing of the Chadian president may result in a state of security instability that may significantly affect the Chadian interior, as the country may witness acts of violence between supporters and opponents of the president and the military council that has taken over, which may create a humanitarian refugee crisis, especially since there is still no Any scenario about the way the state is managed under the leadership of the Military Council and Mohamed Idriss Deby, son of the president.

This instability indicates that there was no strong estimate of the armament and number of opposition elements that assassinated Déby, which means that the attack was more surprising despite the fact that the fighting was not near the capital, and Déby was directly far from the attack’s target ( [xi] ) , This threatens the possibility of violence in the country due to the ability of the armed opposition to penetrate internally.

Also, after the killing of Déby, the Libyan Parliament requested military reinforcements on the southern border with Chad ( [xii] ) , which means that there is a Libyan concern about the security effects of his killing, especially since the groups that killed him came from Libyan lands, which may push the parties supporting the president to launch attacks. Retaliation on the Libyan lands to pursue the Chadian opposition there.

In conclusion , it can be said that the Chadian president has succeeded in putting out a lot of fires inside the Chadian lands over the past 30 years of his rule, but it was a tax that a major economic decline in the country as it ranks (187) out of (189) in the Human Development Index, and now it may witness The coming days in Chad are a state of confusion, especially that the method and nature of governance that Déby followed has created many incubators of anger, internally and externally, and therefore the Military Council faces great challenges, the most important of which is the extension of security and control over the borders, and the positive aspect of the military establishment’s move is that it has a side of internal cohesion. Contrary to the nature of other African armies in sub-Saharan countries.


[i] Chad president Idriss Deby Itno, longtime leader of the African nation, killed on battlefield fighting rebels, military says, CBS news, APRIL 20, 2021,at:

[ii] The Chadian Accord and Change Front, a political-military organization established by Mohamed Mahdi Ali in March 2016 in Tanoua, northern Chad, declared its readiness for military operations against the president.

[iii] Cameron Hudson, Will events in Chad force a reset of Sahel strategy?, Atlantic Council, APR 19, 2021,at:

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Delphine Lecoutre, The Chad, power of circumstance, Le Monde diplomatique, June 2016, at:

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] 2021 Chad Military Strength, global fire power, at:

[viii] The killing of Idriss Déby portends Libya of dire repercussions, Sky News Arabia, April 20, 2021, available at the following link:

[ix] Cameron Hudson, op.cit.

[x] Chad: France flies to Idriss Déby’s aid by bombing rebels, Le Monde, February 2019, at:

[xi] Hossein Jammou, Idriss Deby … the president twice rescued by France, Al-Bayan newspaper, 20 April 2021, available at:

[xii] Consequences of “Deby” … Libyan MPs request military preparations on Chad’s borders, Al-Ain News website, April 20, 2021, available at the following link:

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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