(GIN) African countries working with the US to defeat terrorism are questioning why Chad has been added to the latest group of countries excluded under the US travel ban. The addition of Chad took that country’s government by surprise and bewildered analysts of Central Africa.
For years, the United States and its European allies have praised the Central African nation of Chad as a helpful partner in the fight against terrorism. Chad has been a longtime American ally in fighting Islamist militants in the region, including offshoots of Al Qaeda and Boko Haram, and its troops took part in a French-led effort to root out Islamist militants from parts of Mali in 2013.
The government expressed “incomprehension in the face of the official reasons for this decision, which contrasts with Chad’s constant efforts and commitments in the fight against terrorism.”
In a report on Chad last year, the State Department said few Chadians join terrorist groups and the country tightened its borders to impede the movements of militants. However, a financial crisis kept the country from consistently paying police and military salaries, which presented some risk.
“This makes no sense at all, even from a Trumpian standpoint,” said Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch. “I’ve been to Chad 30 times. No country should be on list, but Chad is particularly bewildering. Only one Chadian was ever accused of anti-US terror.”
Chad has been a key member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a US inter-agency program that helps governments defeat terrorists in the Sahel and West Africa regions. US marines and navy personnel have also provided training for Chadian officers, even deploying troops to Chad to help find the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls.
Chad’s increasing involvement in regional conflicts has made it a continental superpower. This was most obvious in Mali in 2013, where Chadian forces were key in the defeat of Islamist rebel groups who occupied the north of the country and were planning to march on the capital.
Another surprise in the newly released list of excluded countries was the removal of Sudan from the Trump travel ban. Sudan was removed just days ahead of an October 12 decision to permanently lift decades-old US sanctions on Khartoum.
Relations with the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the US began warming under President Obama. Charges of genocide however, still face the President at the International Criminal Court for actions taken against South Sudan.