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What We’re Watching: Chaos in Chad, Biden’s barrels of oil

People walk as they protest in Moundou, Chad.

People walk as they protest in Moundou, Chad.


Trouble in Chad

Around 50 people were killed Thursday in Chad amid clashes between security forces and protesters over the junta's decision to delay returning to civilian rule by two years. Hundreds more were injured. The anger is directed at Mahamat Idriss Déby, who took over the Central African nation in April 2021 after his strongman dad and namesake was assassinated by a rebel group. Upon assuming power, the four-star general quickly dissolved parliament to rule by decree but promised to hold a new election in 18 months (Chadians were not happy about it). Earlier this month, military leaders pushed that deadline back to October 2024. Déby, 38, was sworn in last week as "transitional” president and says he plans to run for the job. Will Chadians let him? It's unclear if the younger Déby has as firm a grip as his father, who led the country with an iron fist for 30 years and was considered a reliable Western ally against Islamic extremism. One external player in a tricky spot is former colonial power France: Paris is wary of rising anti-French sentiment there and wants to keep a low profile, but it also needs stability because French energy major Total does a lot of business in oil-rich Chad.

Biden plays with energy

The White House announced this week that it will release another 15 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves in a bid to reduce prices at the pump. President Joe Biden also called on oil companies to use their “record-breaking profits” to pump and refine more oil. Though average fuel prices in the US are down from a June high of $5 a gallon, they’re still 12% higher than this time last year. The strategic release – expected to begin in December – is part of what Biden has called a “wartime bridge” meant to help consumers deal with rising energy prices as a result of Western bans on imports of Russian gas and oil. It’s the last part of his plan, announced in the spring, to release 180 million barrels of oil from strategic petroleum reserves, which has pushed the US’ rainy-day stockpile to its lowest level since 1984. Biden hoped this might lower gas prices ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8, which are not looking good for Dems. But the later-than-hoped-for timing of the release is a reflection of how fast the strategic petroleum reserve can physically be drawn down. This comes after OPEC+ recently announced it will slash oil output by 2 million barrels per day, which will likely contribute to global gas price hikes right as Americans head to the polls.


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