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Sudan update — Sudanese-Chadian relations; and the decline of the Chadian rebellion.

Recent updates from the HSBA include information and analysis on Sudanese-Chadian relations; and the decline of the Chadian rebellion.

Sudan-Chad Proxy War

The current leaders of Sudan and Chad are both army officers who took power by force at about the same time (in 1989 and 1990), and  managed to maintain friendly relations for more than 12 years despite their different alignments. Their relationship began to change with the Darfur uprising in 2003, in particular after the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked an airport in North Darfur, humiliating the Sudan Armed Forces. The commanders who led those early armed opposition groups were Beri (Zaghawa and Bideyat, Chadian president Idriss Déby's tribe), including Chadian army officers whose defection Déby had been unable to prevent. In return Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, started to support Chadian groups seeking rear bases and arms in Khartoum. This proxy war culminated with armed opposition attacks on both capitals: N'Djaména in 2006 and 2008, and Khartoum in 2008. After May 2009, however, as raids on both sides of the border encountered unusual resistance, and as each regime failed to unite its neighbour's opposition groups into efficient coalitions, Khartoum and N'Djaména began a serious rapprochement. As of mid-2010 it appeared that both countries had given up their proxy conflict to concentrate on other important events: the Sudanese referendum on South Sudan's self-determination, and the scheduled 2011 presidential election in Chad.

The number of Chadian armed opposition groups has been considerably reduced as a result, but some troops are still active in North Darfur, where they seem to have turned to banditry to survive. Perhaps more importantly, Chadian armed opposition groups who refuse to be disarmed or controlled by Khartoum remain active at the tri-border area where the Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan meet. Their hope is to find support in South Sudan, where some of them have connections from before the Darfur conflict.

Another potential ally for the Chadian armed opposition are the disparate members of the Darfurian armed opposition: they, too, are currently seeking external support, including in South Sudan.

For a detailed update on the demise of the Chadian armed opposition groups since the rapprochement with Sudan, see:


Chadian Armed Opposition Groups

A chronic feature of the Chadian political scene has been the inability of opposition groups to obtain power without staging an armed insurgency. Since he took power in 1990, Chad's President Idriss Déby has been confronted by several rebellions, including from within his own ethnic group, the Beri. President Déby has managed to contain these opposition groups using by coercion and by force, but the situation has been less manageable since the start of the war in the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan in 2003. Déby was unable to prevent his own forces and family from supporting their Zaghawa kin fighting against the Sudanese government across the border. Khartoum responded by offering support to almost any Chadian armed group and tried, with limited success, to unite the various factions as coalitions. This policy of proxy war reached its zenith between 2005 and 2009. During this period, the Sudanese government allowed most Chadian armed opposition groups to benefit from rear bases in West Darfur, from where they could launch lightning raids on Chad. With N'Djaména as their main target, they rarely sought to control Chadian territory, except in small pockets along the shared border.

Since late 2009, Chad and Sudan have engaged in a rapprochement, and almost all of the Chadian opposition groups have since left Sudan. The strength of the Chadian opposition forces has greatly diminished as a result from at least 6,000 overall in May 2009 to around 3,000–4,000 in September–October 2010, and fewer than 1,000 in early 2011.

For more on the Chadian opposition forces, see:

The Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment is a multi-year research project, administered by the Small Arms Survey, which supports violence-reduction initiatives through its research and dissemination of information.

Watch out for additional updates in the near future.

All updates and new pages can be found on the HSBA’s Facts and Figures ‘Latest Updates’ page at:

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