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The populations of eastern Chad and western Sudan established social and religious ties long before either nation's independence, and these remained strong despite disputes between governments. In recent times, relations have been strained due to the conflict in Darfur and a civil war in Chad, which both governments accuse the other of supporting.
Herdsmen in both countries freely crossed the 950-kilometer border, seeking pastureland and water sources as they had for centuries. Muslims in eastern Chad often traveled through Sudan on the hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and many young people from eastern Chad studied at Islamic schools in Sudan. In addition, Sudan's cotton plantations employed an estimated 500,000 Chadian workers in 1978.
At the same time, the basis for political enmity between these two nations was set in the early 1960s, when Chad's southern bias in government offended many Sudanese Muslims. Sudan allowed FROLINAT rebels to organize, train, and establish bases in western Sudan and to conduct raids into Chad from Sudan's Darfur Province. Refugees from both countries fled across their mutual border.
Following the coup that ousted Chadian President François Tombalbaye in 1975, relations between presidents Jaafar an Numayri and Félix Malloum (the Sudanese and Chadian heads of state, respectively) were surprisingly cordial, in part because both nations feared Libyan destabilization. Sudan sponsored talks among Chad's rebel army leaders in the late 1970s and urged Malloum to incorporate them into his government. (Numayri promoted the talents and intelligence of Habré, in particular, and persuaded Malloum to appoint Habré to political office in 1978.) These ties were strained in part because of Numayri's warming relations with Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.
As violence in Chad increased between 1979 and 1982, Sudan faced its own internal rebellion, and relations deteriorated after Numayri was ousted in 1985. In 1988 Habré assailed Sudan for allowing Libyan troops to be stationed along Chad's border and for continuing to allow assaults on Chadian territory from Sudan.
At the time of the Bashir coup in June 1989, western Darfur was being used as a battleground by troops loyal to the Chadian government of Hissein Habré and rebels organized by Idriss Déby and supported by Libya. Deby was from the Zaghawa ethnic group that lived on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border, and the Zaghawa of Darfur provided him support and sanctuary. Hundreds of Zaghawa from Chad had also fled into Sudan to seek refuge from the fighting. The RCC-NS was not prepared for a confrontation with Chad, which was already providing assistance to the SPLM, and thus tended to turn a blind eye when Chadian forces crossed into Darfur in pursuit of the rebels.
In May 1990, Chadian soldiers invaded the provincial capital of Al Fashir, where they rescued wounded comrades being held at a local hospital. During the summer, Chadian forces burned eighteen Sudanese villages and abducted 100 civilians. Deby's Patriotic Movement for Salvation (Mouvement Patriotique du Salut) provided arms to Sudanese Zaghawa and Arab militias, ostensibly so that they could protect themselves from Chadian forces. The militias, however, used the weapons against their own rivals, principally the ethnic Fur, and several hundred civilians were killed in civil strife during 1990. The government was relieved when Deby finally defeated Habré in December 1990. The new government in N'Djamena signaled its willingness for good relations with Sudan by closing down the SPLM office. Early in 1991, Bashir visited Chad for official talks with Deby on bilateral ties.
On December 24, 2005, Chad declared itself as in a "state of belligerance" with neighboring Sudan. The conflict in the border region of Darfur has become an increasingly bi-national affair as increasing numbers of Sudanese flee to refugee camps in Chad, and Sudanese government troops, war planes and militias cross the border to strike at rebels based in Chad.
Chad broke diplomatic relations with Sudan at least twice in 2006 because it believed the Sudanese government was supporting UFDC rebels financially and with arms in retaliation for Chad's military support to the JEM rebels in Darfur. Two accords were signed, the Tripoli Accord, which was signed on February 8 and failed to end the fighting, and the more recently signed N'Djamena Agreement.
Although the Government of Chad and the Government of Sudan signed the Tripoli Agreement on February 8, 2006, officially ending hostilities, fighting continues. On 11 August 2006, Chad and Sudan resumed relations at the behest of Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi.
On May 11, 2008 Sudan announced it was cutting diplomatic relations with Chad, claiming that it was helping rebels in Darfur to attack the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Relations were restored in November the same year.
Sudanese-Chadian relationship improved dramatically after Chadian President Idriss Deby visited Khartoum on February 9, 2010. The resulting deal saw Chad kick out the Darfuri Justice and Equality Movement rebels it had previously supported, dramatically changing the Darfur dynamic. Chad and Sudan also committed themselves to joint military border patrols. Sudan held command of the latter force for the first six months, after which is was given over to Chad according to the six month rotation agreement.
- Full text of the 'Agreement on the Normalisation of Relations between Chad and Sudan' 2010 (French), UN Peacemaker
- Full text of the 'Doha Agreement between Chad and Sudan' 2009, UN Peacemaker
- Full text of the 'Accord de Dakar entre le Tchad et le Soudan' 2008 (French), UN Peacemaker
- Full Text of Riyadh Agreement between Chad and Sudan (French), UN Peacemaker
- Byrnes, Rita M. "Relations with Nigeria and Sudan". Chad: A Country Study (Thomas Collelo, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (December 1988). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Hooglund, Eric. "Foreign Relations: Chad". Sudan: A Country Study (Helen Chapin Metz, editor). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (June 1991). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Chad and Sudan resume relations, BBC, August 9, 2006
- Chad, Sudan sign peace deal, CNN, March 13, 2008
- Sudan cuts Chad ties over attack, BBC, May 11, 2008
- AU chief expresses concern over Chad-Sudan, AFP, March 1, 2009
- Sudan, Chad agree to end proxy wars, Mail & Guardian, February 9, 2010