Irish army in the service of Empire


Richard Moore

Irish army in the service of Empire

Written by Sara O'Rourke
Thursday, 07 February 2008

Irish troops are to be deployed as part of an EU 
Mission to Chad and the Central African Republic 
(CAR). Their departure was delayed due to 
increased activity from rebel forces. The media 
claims that much of this violence is occurring 
because the rebels in Chad oppose EU intervention.

The latest reports say that rebels attacked the 
airport in N'jamena to stop the arrival of the EU 
troops. The operation has been presented in the 
media as a humanitarian mission to help 100,000+ 
refugees in Chad. It is lauded as a proud day for 
the Irish because the operation commander will be 
an Irish officer.

Far from a humanitarian mission, this operation 
is designed to prop up a repressive EU friendly 
government. Chad's current leader, President 
Idriss Déby came to power in 1990 by launching a 
military campaign from across the border, in 
Darfur (Sudan), and with the support of the 
Sudanese government.

In an interview with RTE, Lieutenant General Pat 
Nash stated that his 'task is to translate 
diplomatic policy into military action'. 
Significantly this is the first time that Irish 
peacekeepers will be able to use 'all necessary 
measures to achieve the mandated tasks'.

Chad won independence from France in 1960 and has 
been wracked by internal and international 
conflicts ever since. Armed opposition to Déby, 
increased in intensity in 2005 with defections 
from the army reinforcing several rebel 
movements. Both Sudan and Libya have sponsored 
groups in Chad over the years with Darfur a base 
for Chadian dissidents since the '80s.

Déby allied himself with the Chadian Arabs after 
he too was forced into exile in Darfur. He had 
support from Chadian Arabs until a rebel attack 
against the capital city, N'jamena in 2006 led 
him to disarm and arrest Arab officers in the 
Chadian national army.

In North Africa the term 'Arab' is used to 
describe tribes with a nomadic lifestyle as 
opposed to ethnically Arab from the Middle East. 
All of these 'Arab' tribes are black.

The complicated political situation has seen the 
government of Sudan backing Chadian rebels and 
militias in Darfur while the government of Chad 
has supported Sudanese rebel groups in eastern 
Chad, which in turn have supported the creation 
of self-defense groups at community level in Chad.

The 'jajjaweed' militias in Darfur are made up of 
both Chadian and Sudanese nomads and landless 
immigrants. The border between Chad and Darfur 
was an imposed border so members of the ethnic 
groups from the core of the Sudanese rebel 
movements have ethnic kin in Chad.

In 2005 Chadian troops defected with their 
equipment to Chadian rebel movements in Darfur. 
By 2006 Déby had cut off relations with Sudan and 
was overtly supporting the Sudanese rebel 
movements and vice versa.

Sudanese rebel groups from Darfur supported the 
Chadian government forces in fighting against 
Chadian rebels. There has since been a tentative 
peace agreement signed in Tripoli but fighting 

Colonialism continues

For 22 years 1,200 French troops have been 
stationed in Chad, a former French colony. In 
2006 France provided military aircraft to the 
Chadian government for aerial surveillance of the 
border with Sudan.

Sarkozy recently visited the country to give 
support to Déby. Chad exports a lot of cotton, an 
industry recently privatised. It also has gold 
but more importantly it has oil. It became a net 
petroleum exporter after the Chad -Cameroon 
pipeline came online in 2003. Many consider Chad 
to have more oil resources.

Environmentalists and African NGO's fear that the 
project will cause huge environmental damage and 
it is widely acknowledged in Africa that the 
Chadian economy is dominated by foreign powers.

The Doba basin oil project came about after 
Exxonmobil, in a consortium with Chevron and 
Petronas invested $3.7 billion to develop the oil 
reserves in southern Chad. The World Bank also 
contributed to the pipeline and agreements were 
signed in which the Chadian government promised 
to spend 80% of oil revenues on development 

Despite high oil prices Chad is still the world's 
fifth poorest country, with a population 9 
million people. Little of the oil money is spent 
by the government on development.While it seems 
that wherever there is oil there is strife it is 
also about much more.

The landscape of power in the world is shifting 
and this is being played out in Africa. China is 
trying to gain control of Sudanese oil, Sudan is 
also competing for power in Chad, Sarkozy is 
lending support to Chadian ruler, with many 
saying that Déby could not remain in power 
without French support.

Why are Irish troops being deployed into a 
situation like this? What military action will 
Pat Nash be leading Irish troops into? Protecting 
civilians, refugees and aid or protecting an oil 
supply that needs safe passage through a 
pipeline, out of a strife ridden country.

A multinational military force propping up a 
corrupt dictator will be resisted. Especially if 
those troops include the previous colonial 
master. Irish troops have now been drafted into 
the EU Empire's police force.

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