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Sun, 17 Nov 2019 16:10 GMT

Chad’s Toubu Tribe Fears Israeli-Chadian Rapprochement


Abdelsattar Ibrahim

Tue, 08 Jan 2019 19:58 GMT

The visit of Chadian President Idriss Deby to Tel Aviv in November 2018 highlighted the aspirations of Israel and Western countries on the African continent.

Africa is rife with political conflicts and the proliferation of extremist groups.

"Nevertheless, the continent, with unlimited opportunities for development, has become the focus of many major countries", Issa Abdul Majeed, president of the Toubou Tribal Congress, told 7Dnews.

In northern Chad, particularly the areas of Toubou influence, there are large fortunes under the ground, including gold and uranium, but the majority of the tribe's 300,000 people live in abject poverty, said a Libyan officer of Toubou origin, Mohamed Abdel Salam.

"I think Israel wants to open the way for its companies to work in Tibesti," said Abdel Salam, who took part in Muammar Gaddafi’s war against Chad in the 1980s. "I fear this will lead to unrest.”

President Deby is resisting armed Chadian opposition activists on both sides of the border with Libya, and there are also routes used by extremists across this central part of the continent.

Deby has been in power since 1990 and is a Western ally in fighting militant Islamists in West Africa. On the other hand, the Islamic extremist groups from Libya, Nigeria, and Mali occasionally cooperate with armed Chadian rebels from southern Libya.

"The danger lies in possibility of the Chadian opposition using extremist groups to target the government of President Deby or international companies that want to have a presence in the Tibesti region, especially Israeli or West companies," officer Abdulsalam told 7Dnews.

Extremists have targeted Western interests in the past few days, killing individuals from Europe and the United States in West Africa.

Since Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory in the 1967 war, some African countries have been reluctant to establish or strengthen their relationship with it. Over the past few decades, however, Tel Aviv has managed to set up diplomatic relations with 32 out of 54 African countries.

Chad, with the 19th lowest GDP in the world, faces economic hardship as well as threats from a mixture of rebels, al-Qaeda units and Isis groups across its border with Libya. This border was closed by President Deby in early 2018, but over recent months, he and regional leaders have discussed plans to stabilize the region.

About two years ago in N'Djamena, Deby met Dore Gold, then director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to improve bilateral relations.

Deby also had talks in recent months with Issa Abdul Majeed, a former adviser to the Speaker of Libyan House of Representatives, who has influence over his Toubou tribe on both sides of border.

"I think the Chadian president's visit to Tel Aviv was part of a plan he wanted to implement," says Abdul Majeed. "He wants to deport the Chadian Toubou from the Tibesti region, and bring Israeli companies to build settlements for their employees in the area. Thus, the Israelis will have get nearer to Libya and Sudan.”

He added, "Israeli companies want to explore for gold in northern Chad.”

However, Reuters quoted an unnamed source during Deby's visit to Israel as saying the visit "focused on security issues", as Israel had supplied Chad's army with weapons and equipment this year to help fight insurgents.