Walid Phares
The Washington Times (Opinion)
February 20, 2008 - 6:46pm

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 peace missions.

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.


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