The Pullout: Chadian troops withdraw from Nigeria

We are a little more than a week into 2020 and the situation with Nigeria appears to present the same chaotic behavior that 2019 ended with.

A new row with the United States erupted when the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom placed Nigeria on a Special Watch List. This is considered to be a downgrade from the previously held status of a Country of Particular Concern. This led to a testy meeting between President Buhari and the US Ambassador to Nigeria over what the concept of Religious Liberty looks like.

However, there is an issue with the Boko Haram insurgency that on the surface should cause analysts to reassess the situation in Northeastern Nigeria. The nation of Chad has seen fit to withdraw the troops it currently has on the ground in the Northeastern part of the Country.[1] The country has announced that it feels that its role in Nigeria is indeed finished. However a question is waiting to be asked, is this the only country that Chadian Troops have left?

The answer to that question is a resounding no! In October 2017, Chad withdrew its fighters that were operating in Niger.[2] At the time this withdrawal took place the decision caught most observers off guard. In fact, some opinions suggested that this move was in response to a ban on travel on certain countries including Chad that was put into place by the Trump Administration.

So the question of why leave Nigeria now begs to be asked? The decision to withdraw back across Lake Chad suggests that these troops could be in the process of being reequipped and rested. But that would lead to a new unit being deployed to the area. That door was left open by the leader of the Chadian Military if the other members of the coalition request it.[3]

Chadian troops patrolling the Lake Chad axis

The repositioning of the troops back to their natural area of deployment across Lake Chad suggests that the Higher Command in the Chadian Military believes that the threat posed by the Jihadists towards Chad no longer comes from Northeastern Nigeria. It does not appear to be a knee jerk reaction as the withdrawal from Niger in 2017 clearly was.

Clearly, those Nigerians residing in the affected states have a serious disagreement with the actions of the Chadian Army. The Office of the Nigerian Presidency has issued a statement[4] stating that its citizens should not panic. This move is being taken due to a change in the concept of operations against Boko Haram/ISWAP (Islamic State West African Province) and in the mandate of the MNJTF (Multinational Joint Task Force) that has been operating in the area around Lake Chad for several years now.

So what of the other members of the MNJTF? Cameroon has its own problems than the activities of Boko Haram/ISWAP. A bloody insurgency in the Southwestern part of the country rages on. Attempts to have a dialogue between the Government and the Ambazonians who seek Independence are just getting off the ground. Benin has its own issues and various Intelligence reports suggest a Southern Migration of Jihadists from Mali and Burkina Faso.

If these conflicts merge it could make West Africa explode.


[1] https://thedefensepost.com/2020/01/04/chad-troops-leave-nigeria-boko-haram-iswap-mission-finished/

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-niger-security-chad/chad-withdraws-troops-from-fight-against-boko-haram-in-niger-idUSKBN1CH2T0

[3] https://www.voanews.com/africa/chad-troops-leave-nigeria-boko-haram-mission-over-army

[4] https://allafrica.com/stories/202001080041.html

Scott Morgan

Love @Steelers and @Yankees also blog at Confused Eagle District of Columbia, USA