Saturday, December 01, 2007

They seek them here …

Although we had a pretty good go at it last week, the EU's peacekeeping efforts (not) in Chad are almost beyond parody.

According to several reports, and most recently AFP Chad rebels – reacting to the intervention of 1,000 French troops already present in the former colony – have declared themselves to be "in a state of belligerence against the French army or any other foreign forces on national territory."

This is from spokesman Mahamat Hassane Boulmaye of the UFDD (Union of Forces for Democracy and Development), who has also branded the EU mission "a hostile act," adding – just to make sure no-one misunderstands – that. "We will view the European soldiers as enemies, whether they are French or Austrian. For us ... all European units on our territory are enemies because they came to defend the dictator (Chadian President) Idriss Deby."

Sarkozy has responded by saying that the EU force will still be deployed. He is backed by Prodi and Austrian defence ministry spokesman Stefan Hirsch says that the UFDD threat "does not change our determination to take part in this humanitarian mission," adding, "we are ready to go."

The responses come in the context of fresh fighting has erupted between the Chadian army and rebels, one of the main conflict zones centred around Abeche, the main city in eastern Chad.

However, while Sarkozy and his mates are talking the talk, they are still not walking the walk. Another report has Irish Defense Minister Willie O'Dea stating that the first troops from the EU peacekeeping force would not arrive until January at the earliest. He adds that the Irish contingent would go only if other EU member states contribute approximately 15 helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and field-hospital support.

Yet, like the elusive Pimpernel, they seek them here, they seek them there – those damned elusive helicopters. And even though the force was supposed to be in place in mid-November, even now no member state has stepped up to the plate and offered the machines.

If it carries on like this, the UFDD is going to be frustrated in being the first ever organisation to go to war against the EU – as the EU, like Godot, will never arrive.

But doesn't it tell you a great deal about the power, the prestige and the might of the European Union that some tin pot rebel force in darkest Africa feels confident enough to tell it where to get off.

And just remind me why it is that we want to get further in bed with these toothless morons, with yet another treaty? It really cannot be because we are so impressed with their ideas for the ERRF (European Rather Ridiculous Farce) - pictured above left.


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