Volcan Army

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The Volcan Army was a Chadian insurgent rebel group that was active during the Chadian Civil War. The movement was founded in 1970 by the Arab insurgent leader Mohamed Baghlani, who had been expelled in June from the FROLINAT by the organization's secretary-general Abba Siddick. The new group was of islamist tendency and was mainly composed of Arabs who shunned Siddick's leadership of the FROLINAT; it was based in Libya. For several years, till about 1975, the Volcan Army was a negligible force on the ground; after that it started slowly expanding. Among the new members arrived in 1976 Ahmat Acyl who attacked Baghlani's authority with the support of Libya in January 1977; and when Baghlani died in a car accident in Benghazi on March 27, Acyl became the new leader of the militia with the full support of the Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddafi, of whom Acyl was to become his most loyal man in Chad.

Under Acyl's leadership the group rapidly expanded, coordinating its activities with Oueddei Goukouni's larger People's Armed Forces (FAP) in the prefectures of Biltine and Salamat. While remaining much fewer in numbers than both the FAP and the Armed Forces of the North (FAN), its 400-500 men were reputed to be among the most resolute fighters of the insurgency. Its expansion represented the participation in the civil war of the populations of central Chad, especially of the major Arab bedouin tribes. The Volcan Army was often accused of tribalism, with its deep suspicion for the zuruq, the blacks, and in particular for the Gorane (i.e. Toubou) which dominated the FAP and FAN.

These suspicions erupted in the summer of 1978 when the Volcan forces attacked, sobilliated by Qaddafi, the FAP's positions at Faya-Largeau, but were easily repelled. Since the Volcan Army had become by the first months of the year the group most heavily supported by Libya, Goukouni readily understood that the Libyans were behind the acretaliated by breaking all ties with Qaddafi.

Relations between Acyl and Goukouni were still frosty in 1979, when Goukouni temporarily allied himself with Hissène Habré in February during the battle of N'Djamena, in which the southern-dominated government disintegrated.

The international community, led by Nigeria, tried to bring order to the expanding chaos in Chad through a series of international peace conferences. But the first peace conference held in March excluded minor factions, like the Volcan Army; as a reaction they created the Front for Joint Provisional Action (FACP), a counter-government supported by Libya and opposed to the new Transitional Government of National Unity (GUNT). As the first compromise proposals failed, the FACP swiftly renamed itself Democratic Revolutionary Council (CDR), and assumed as its leader Ahmat Acyl. By this moment the Volcan Army was to be known as the CDR.

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