From the field of conflict against the Nigerian insurgent group Boko Haram, euronews correspondent Luis Carballo has been talking to Army Chief of Staff General Brahim Seid Mahamat. He has been involved in a coalition against the radical militants since January.
As part of an African Union-mandated regional offensive also including Niger and Cameroon, Chad’s battle-hardened troops have expelled the Islamist group from the major towns of northeast Nigeria in a matter of weeks.
All these countries have suffered from Boko Haram’s attacks.
Although soft-spoken during our interview, General Mahamat was critical of the Nigerian Army. He explained some of the key reasons for his country getting involved.
“Chad imports almost everything it needs from Nigeria and Cameroon. The principle entry axis is by Maiduguri [the biggest city in north-eastern Nigeria, which is the heartland of the conflict] and through Gamburu. Imports cross Cameroon to get to Chad.
“Boko Haram has totally blocked that axis; the Nigerian Army has been totally absent. All the towns along that axis have been taken by Boko Haram. Then the militants tried to move into Cameroon, thereby creating a situation all the way along that axis. That is one of the reasons that Chad was forced to intervene.
“The second reason is that Boko Haram is trying to extend its reach into the other countries that border northern Nigeria’s three provinces. That’s how they are starting to make inroads into Niger and Chad.
“I would say that Boko Haram is an outright enemy of the international community, terrorists. That goes for Niger, Nigeria, Chad or Cameroon. They are individuals who are harming our people and our countries.”
Nigeria’s new President, Muhammadu Buhari, branded his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan’s reliance on Chad to suppress the insurgency as a national disgrace, and promises to do better.