In English, we often say, “The third time’s the charm.” In Sudan, just the opposite is true, with the local saying of “al-talta wagaa,” translating to, “The third attempt will fail.” It looks like the Government of Sudan is eager to find out which is true as it works with its proxy Chadian rebels in what will likely be the third attempt to take the Chadian capital of N’Djamena and oust Chad’s President Idriss Déby.
Chad has experienced two coup attempts in the past three years. In Darfur, a Chadian rebel coalition led by Timane Erdimi, a relative of President Déby, and Mohamed Nouri, another longtime Chadian rebel leader, is currently receiving their final marching from Khartoum orders before they launch an assault on N’Djamena.
The Sudanese government laid the groundwork for this attack last week when Dr. Kamal Ibaid, Sudan’s State Minister for Information, accused the Chadian government of providing logistical support to the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, a rebel group in Western Sudan, with which Sudanese forces have clashed throughout the week. The Sudanese government also recently chastised France for its inability to restrain Déby. In the two previous coup attempts, French military support played an essential role in ensuring President Déby’s survival, so Khartoum knows its attempt will likely not succeed if France again wades into the fray.
Sudan’s support of the Chadian rebels has very little to do with its longstanding desire for regime change in Chad and everything to do with the Justice and Equality Movement. The JEM is the best armed and organized rebel group currently in Darfur, and they have vowed to attack the Sudanese capital of Khartoum if an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir leads to “chaos” in Khartoum. The JEM is backed strongly by the government of Chad, and with everyone waiting for word from The Hague on Bashir, the stakes in this two country proxy war have never been higher.
Maggie Fick contributed to this post.