Earlier this week, the U.S. government issued an updated list of countries whose citizens are not allowed to enter the United States. Such bans have become all too familiar since the new American government came into office in January.
Like the previous travel advisories issued by President Donald Trump, Monday’s ban has rubbed many Americans the wrong way, with many people asking why Trump saw it fit to include Chad in the list and exclude Sudan, whose president is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
Many officials at the U.S. State Department and Pentagon have protested the ban on Chad, arguing that alienation of the Central African nation will have an adverse effect on America’s fight against terrorism.
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The administration officials add that Chad has been a reliable counterterrorism ally in Africa and any act of disaffection risks hurting America’s long-term national security interests, especially with regard to winning the war on terror.
Lack of Cooperation
The ban comes days after Trump’s acting Secretary to Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke recommended the inclusion of Chad in the travel ban. Her approval was also included in her classified report to the President, in which she argued that America has “done too little to crack down on Islamic extremists”.
Even the United States Africa Command officials, who have partnered with the Chadian military to fight terrorism in north and central Africa, say they can’t explain why Chad was included in the list, calling the decision as “puzzling”.
But President Trump insists that Chad has failed to effectively share security and terror-related information with his government and does not satisfy at least one important risk criterion.
“This was not a subjective exercise. We laid out a very clear baseline of the information we needed from all countries, and all countries were measured equally to determine whether they met that baseline,” a Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan was quoted by The New York Times.
African security experts have also criticized the ban, arguing that such travel restrictions are likely to have a lasting effect, not just on Chad but the whole of Africa.
“This confusion over the treatment of a key U.S. ally on combating terrorism sends the message that the United States cannot be trusted as a reliable partner,” Monde Muyangwa, the director of the Africa program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars told The New York Times.
The government of Chad has issued a statement expressing its “astonishment” and “incomprehension” of the decision by the White House, saying it contradicts Chad’s commitment to work closely with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
For decades, Chad has played host to American forces, allowing them to carryout important military exercises on its soil.
Some Chadians even accuse the American government of ignoring complaints about human rights abuses by their president, Idriss Deby, simply because of his strong commitment to fighting terrorism.