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Chad-Libya War (1983: Doomsday)

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Chad-Libya War
Chad truck GUNT soldiers in a technical
Beginning:

1978

End:

February 22, 2012

Place:

Chad

Outcome:

Southern Chadian Victory

Chad re-uinified

Combatants

Flag of Libya (1977-2011) Libya

Flag of Chad GUNT

Flag of Chad Chad

Flag of France France

Commanders

Flag of Libya (1977-2011) Muammar al-Gaddafi

Flag of Chad Goukouni Oueddei

Flag of Chad Hissène Habré

Flag of Chad Hassan Djamous

Flag of France François Mitterrand (until Doomsday)

Strength

5000 men

Flag of France 2700 men

Casualties and Losses

5000+ killed

1000+ killed

The Chad-Libya War was an armed conflict in Chad between Libyan and Chad forces existing from 1978 to 2012. The Chadian Civil War, which began in 1965, pitted the Transitional Government of National Unity against Loyalists. Muammar al-Gaddafi who rose to power in Libya in 1969, had intervened on the side of the Transitional Government. Loyalists were supported by France, in 1983 sent soldiers to create the Red Line, dividing Chad in half.

Following Doomsday, Libya withdrew its troops and the French soldiers were stranded in Chad. Several GUNT attacks failed, and for the decades to come there was only small skirmishes. The war started up again in 2012, when Loyalist forces under Fidèle Abdelkérim Moungar successfully invaded northern Chad and unified Chad.

Events

Before Doomsday

The war's roots began during the Chadian Civil War, when the Muslim National Liberation Front of Chad (FROLINAT) began its war against President François Tombalbaye, who was supported by the Chadian Armed Forces (FAT). Libya's King Idris I supported the FROLINAT by providing sanctuary to rebel forces and giving the rebels non-lethal supplies. Idris was deposed in a coup d'etat on September 1st, 1969 that brought Muammar Gaddafi to power. Gaddafi claimed the Aouzou Strip in northern Chad. Gaddafi, with the support of the Soviet bloc, began arming and funding the FROLINAT. Tombalbaye had broke off communications with Libya and accused them of back a coup against him. Due to French pressure, however, Chad and Libya had resumed communications. Shortly after, Tombalbaye was said to have given the Libyans the Aouzou Strip in exchange for 40 million pounds. Gaddafi had withdrawn his support of the FROLINAT. Six months later, Libya moved into the strip and established a base, protected by surface-to-air missiles.

The good relations soon ended when Tombalbaye was deposed in a coup on April 13, 1975. He was replaced by General Felix Malloum. As the coup was partly motivated by Tombalbaye's appeasement of Libya, Gaddafi felt this threatened his influence. He resumed supplying the FROLINAT, and even sent Libyan troops to aid them into an assault into central Chad.

The FROLINAT itself split into two groups: the pro-Libyan people's armed forces (FAP) led by Goukouni Oueddei, and the anti-Libyan Armed Forces of the North (FAN) led by Hissene Habre. Libya supplied FAP with hundreds of AK-47s, RPGs, mortars, and cannons. Using the new weapons FAP attacked the FAT strongholds of Bardai and Zouar and cities in Borkou. FAT lost 300 men along with piles of supplies. Malloum realized he needed new allies, so he and Habre signed an accord. A National Union Government was formed, with Habre becoming Prime Minister.

Gaddafi perceived the alliance as a serious threat, so this time he sent ground troops to support the FAP. Goukouni's FAP unleashed an offensive in late January 1978 and captured the northern city of Faya-Largeau. The rebels, armed with better weapons such as the Strela 2 surface-to-air missiles, defeated the FAT and cost them 20% of their manpower. Goukouni used these victories to strengthen his position in the FROLINAT; he soon became their Secretary-General. Goukouni soon pointed his guns south toward the capital of Chad, N'Djamena.

However, Malloum had gained the support of 2500 newly-arrived French soldiers, along with tanks and warplanes. Malloum repelled the FROLINAT at Ati and Djedaa, killing 2000 rebels and forcing them to retreat back north. The French enjoyed complete air superiority, due to the fact Libyan pilots refused to fight them.

A month after the failed offensive, an apparent attempt to remove Goukouni from power was launched by Ahmat Acyl with the support of Libyan troops. Acyl attacked Faya-Largeau to replace Goukouni as leader. The attack failed, and Goukouni expelled all Libyan advisors and started searching for a compromise with France.

In N'Djamena, a minor incident between FAT and FAN escalated into heavy fighting that tore the capital apart on February 12, 1979. Goukouni's men entered the fighting on February 16 in support of Habre. By March 16, FAT had left the capital and reorganize itself in the south under the leadership of Wadel Abdelkader Kamougué. During the battle, the French garrison did nothing to help Malloum, and it even ordered his planes to stop bombing the city.

During a peace conference, Malloum had resigned, replaced by Goukouni. The FAN and FAP had united to form the Transitional Government of National Unity, which was kept together due a determination to remove the Libyans from Chad. Gaddafi was angered due to the fact that his claim on the Aouzou Strip was not recognized and Acyl was not included in the conference, and on June 25 launched a Libyan invasion of northern Chad. Goukouni's militiamen halt the the attack, while French planes forced them to retreat.

A new conference was held in Lagos in August, in which a new accord was signed that allowed every single faction in Chad a spot in the new GUNT. The French troops were to leave Chad and be replaced by a multinational African peacekeeping force. The new GUNT took office in November, with Goukouni President, Kamougue Vice-President, Habre Defense Minister, and Acyl Foreign Minister.

Habre would not stop until he controlled the highest office. Observes concluded that Habre's FAN would eventually clash with the pro-Libyan forces as well as Goukouni himself. On March 22, 1980, fighting erupted in the capital once more between FAN and FAP. Thousands of casualties occurred, and half the city's population had fled. The remaining French troops and the peacekeeping force declared themselves neutral. Goukouni, with the support of the FAT and Acyl's CDR, along with Libya, forced Habre to flee the country. Despite this, Habre announced that he would continue to fight against GUNT.

In January 1981, Goukouni announced he and Gaddafi had decided "to work to achieve full unity between the two countries". The merger plan caused a strong adverse reaction internationally, and France condemned the act. Goukouni announced that he needed Libyan troops to keep the FAN at bay, which was supported by Egypt and Sudan and funded by the United States CIA.

Relations between Goukouni and Gaddafi started to deteriorate. Libyan forces support Acyl's troops against other militias, including Goukouni's own. Fighting between Gaddafi's Islamic Legionnaires and Goukouni's troops broke out, along with rumours that Acyl was planning on a coup. Goukouni ordered the complete withdrawal of Libyan troops out of Chad. Gaddafi complied, and all of his forces had been redeployed in the Aouzou Strip.

1983-1989

On September 26, 1983 the world awakened to the United States and the Soviet Union nuclear war.

Gaddafi ordered his troops to return home in order to guard their borders with Egypt, as well as maintaining internal order. Gaddafi planned to return to Chad once the situation was handled, but his plans would never come to fruition. In early January 1984, Gaddafi was overthrown in a coup, with his fate unknown. His generals would soon become engaged in a civil war, and the country was thrown into total anarchy. Libya was never to return to war.

Libya was the one factor that united Habre and GUNT, and without them the peace talks and conferences broke down. However, there was no major fighting between the two sides from this point on.

Infighting in Transitional Chad

While Habre attempted to strengthen his position in southern Chad, factional bickering was tearing the northern part of Chad apart. The fighting was centered around a leadership struggle between Goukouni and Achekh ibn Oumar, the leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Council (CDR). In 1986, Oumar withdrew support of Goukouni's government, and declared himself leader of a new GUNT. The factions of GUNT became divided and fighting broke out between Goukouni's and Oumar's militia.

In 1989, Goukouni negotiated with Habre and the French forces, and together they drove out the CRD, who fled to Darfur. Oumar was last seen in Libya, though he has not been heard of since then. Goukouni reasserted his dominance over GUNT, and the factions that didn't support him defected to Habre. The alliance was short-lived, however. Without a common enemy and with the GUNT breaking apart, Goukouni led an offensive across the Red Line. 5000 GUNT troops crossed the Line and were focused on the outposts of Kouba Olanga, Kalait and Oum Chalouba. However, with the aid of the French, Goukouni was repelled.

New Government in Chad

During the seven years from 1983 to 1990, President Habre secured his control of Chad. His one party rule was marked with severe human rights issues, including allegedly killing tens of thousands of his opponents. Modern observers concluded that Habre was guilty of several war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture. In 1990, several members of GUNT defected over to southern Chad. Opponents of Habre were rounded up and tortured, which led to a rebellion. Led by Idriss Deby, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) deposed Habre on December 1, 1990. In several spots in southern Chad more rebels challenged Idriss's rule. However, with the aid of the French troops these gangs were suppressed. In 1993, security forces killed Abbas Koty, who was allegedly planning on a coup. Deby secured the country, and for now was content with simply leaving Transitional Chad alone.

Fighting in Transitional Chad

1983DD Map of Chad

Map of Chad. Transitional Chad in Gray, Chad in Blue

The Red Line split the country into GUNT controlled Northern Chad and Loyalist controlled Southern Chad or simply Chad. During this period it was war in name only. Large scale fighting was non-existent, and only a few skirmishes occurred. Both sides worked on feeding and watering their populations. Southern Chad had more farmland, and their population soon became larger than the north.

GUNT suffered severe droughts during this period, causing the organization to fragment. President Goukouni and Vice President Kamougué disagreed on several issues, and in 1994 Kamougué began a rebellion against Goukouni. Kamougué was supported by the entire GUNT First Army. For the next nine years a state of civil war existed in GUNT.

Deby decided it was time to retake the north. In early 2001, 6,000 Chadian troops crossed the Red Line and headed north. Deby's army capitalized on the confusion and infighting, and quickly made inroads. In October 2008, Chad's troops took Fada, the capital of Northern Chad. However, several rebel factions continued a guerrilla war against Chad.

In 2002, a charismatic general named Mohammed Nour Abdelkerim, united the rebel factions as the United Front for Democratic Change (FUC), took control over Zouar and Bardai, and quickly gathered supporters across northern Chad. In 2003 he had taken control over the entire western half of northern Chad, and had Kamougue killed. The majority of the First Army joined Younousmi and he took over the rest of northern Chad, culminating in the Battle of Faya Largeau, where he destroyed most of Goukouni's supporters and forced him to flee to parts unknown. The FUC then retook Fada from Deby's forces and forced them to retreat back to Chad. From there, Nour declared a new GUNT.

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