US has ex­panded travel ban to Chad and re­moved Sudan

The East African - - NEWS - By TOMI OLADIPO BBC

US in­tel­li­gence sug­gests that Cha­dian au­thor­i­ties have not been shar­ing in­for­ma­tion on ter­ror­ism.”

CHAD HAS called on the US gov­ern­ment to re­verse its de­ci­sion to in­clude the coun­try on its travel ban list.

For­eign Min­is­ter Madeleine Alin­gué said in a state­ment that the de­ci­sion un­der­mined the im­age of Chad and good re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. She added that Chad was a part­ner in the fight against ter­ror­ism and that the ban would ruin its bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship with the US.

Cit­i­zens of Chad are now banned from gain­ing busi­ness and tourist visas for the US. Seven other coun­tries are also af­fected by the ban — Iran, Libya, Syria, Ye­men, So­ma­lia, North Korea and Venezuela — while Sudan was re­moved from the list.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s orig­i­nal ban in March was highly con­tro­ver­sial, as it af­fected six ma­jor­ity-mus­lim coun­tries, and was widely la­belled a “Mus­lim ban.” It has been chal­lenged in court. Pres­i­dent Trump’s procla­ma­tion will come as a surprise to many Lake Chad Basin watch­ers, but US in­tel­li­gence sug­gests that Cha­dian au­thor­i­ties have not been shar­ing in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to public safety and ter­ror­ism with their US coun­ter­parts.

The US also said that Chad, a mainly Mus­lim coun­try, was a haven for ji­hadist groups but among the Lake Chad Basin na­tions (Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nige­ria), it has suf­fered the fewest at­tacks from Boko Haram mil­i­tants.

Chad has been, in Washington’s words, “an im­por­tant and valu­able” part­ner in the fight against Is­lamist mil­i­tancy and its cap­i­tal Nd­ja­mena is home to the head­quar­ters of the Multi­na­tional Joint Task Force (MNJTF) formed to tackle Boko Haram.

Chad has also hosted the an­nual Us-led Flint­lock mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in West Africa three times.

France is an­other Western power that has seen value in keep­ing Chad close, bas­ing its re­gional counter-ter­ror­ism force Op­er­a­tion Barkhane in Nd­ja­mena. It has not ex­pressed any con­cerns — at least, not pub­licly — about its African part­ner not shar­ing in­tel­li­gence.

Pres­i­dent Idris Deby has long com­plained about the lack of in­ter­na­tional sup­port in fund­ing the fight against Boko Haram, even threat­en­ing to with­draw his troops from the MNJTF.

His forces have strug­gled to suf­fi­ciently po­lice its vast north­ern re­gions and this could be part of what the US is con­cerned about. How­ever, over the years, Cha­dian troops have proven their ef­fec­tive­ness in bat­tle dur­ing mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tions in the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic and Mali. More re­cently, they made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in sup­press­ing Boko Haram fight­ers be­tween 2014 and 2015 when the group con­trolled huge swathes of ter­ri­tory in neigh­bour­ing Nige­ria.

Los­ing Chad’s co­op­er­a­tion would be ma­jor blow to counter-ter­ror­ism ef­forts in the re­gion. This cu­ri­ous at­tempt to arm-twist the cen­tral African na­tion could be counter-pro­duc­tive.

Pic­ture: File

An­gela Merkel, leader of the Chris­tian Democrats party won her fourth term as Ger­man Chan­cel­lor in elec­tions held on Septem­ber 24.

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