By Walid Phares
February 20, 2008
The Washington Times - Editorial
As Americans debate whhich presidential candidate is best to confront
the jihadists or at least preempt their offensives worldwide, the
latter almost seized a key African country for the forthcoming Darfur
In one day, the so-called armed opposition of Chad reached the capital
N'Djamena and almost surrounded the presidential palace. In a few
hours, what would become the future Taliban of Chad have scored a
strategic victory not only against that government but also against the
efforts by the African and European Unions to contain the Sudanese
regime and stop the genocide in Darfur.
Surprising the West and Africans, those forces backing the "opposition"
proved they are restless against human rights on the continent. More
importantly, the events showed how unprepared are Europeans and
Americans in front of jihadi regimes which seem weak on the surface but
able to surprise and undermine international efforts. On Saturday Feb.
2, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was getting married in Paris and
Americans were readying for the Super Bowl, jihadi-backed forces
launched a blitzkrieg across Chad with 1,000 vehicles, declaring
victory to the international media. This so-called opposition —
to a nonseasoned observer — would appear as "rebels" and
"insurgents." In fact these forces have been backed by the jihadi
regime in Khartoum and some of its funding — according to the
Chadian government — has been sent from Saudi Arabia.
At the center of the confrontation is Darfur. This black Muslim
province inside Sudan has been the victim of genocide at the hands of
Arab fundamentalist forces known as the Janjaweed, essentially backed
by the regime of Sudan. Both neighboring Chad and the United Nations
have come to the help of Darfur since 2005. In return, the Wahabis of
the region came to the support of Sudan's regime. France dispatched
some military units to Chad and soon a European force was set under UN
auspices to be dispatched on the borders between Chad and Sudan to help
the Darfur refugees. The Islamists of Khartoum opposed the
international initiative and were backed by the Wahhabis in Saudi
Arabia as well as the Syrian and Iranian regimes.
Using the classical doctrine of "Khid'aa" (or deception), the Khartoum
regime bought as much time as it needed to allow the arming and
training of the "rebels" inside Chad. The equipment used by the
militias has been obtained in few months and "offices" were opened in
several countries in the region. Oil dividends quickly poured into the
future Taliban of Chad. Their political and media training accelerated.
The Sudanese regime planned on aborting the Darfur UN operations by
preempting Chad. The question is how the strategists in Washington and
Paris failed to foresee this despite activities escalating inside Chad
and media activity in support on al Jazeera.
Failing to detect the movement of thousands of armed men crossing into
an allied country is alarming. The United States has just organized an
Africa Command — backed by the highest technologies worldwide
— and the French military have a jet squadron in the capital. On
the other hand was the preparedness of the jihadi propaganda machine.
Amazingly the official minister of what could have became a Taliban
regime in Chad, Jibrin Issa was comfortably seated in al Jazeera's
studios in Qatar. Very interestingly, the man was wearing a classical
Western business outfit and was clean shaved. The PR strategy was to
show the world, including France and the United States, that the forces
thrusting into their ally weren't a sister to the Islamic Courts of
Somalia or a Taliban "looking" militia. The game was to project this
coup as "domestic" against "corruption" and the rest of the litany,
thus boring for average Western public.
Issa played the script very well until reality surfaced abruptly. In
impeccable Arabic with a Peninsula accent, he thanked the "Islamic
Republic of Sudan" and the Saudis for their support, admitting it was
indeed a Sudanese-backed operation supported by Wahhabists, as a
preemptive move to undermine the forthcoming humanitarian operation in
Darfur. The jihadists, kings of strategies, won another day before they
were pushed back.
This is a warning: If Washington and Paris prevaricate, future
Taliban-like offensives will consolidate their grip and thrust further
into the Sahara. The Darfur operation will be doomed.
Walid Phares is director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
To obtain a signed copy of the War of Ideas, as soon
as it is released, go to