Chad: Exit Gaddafi, Enter Mitterrand

Plans for a French-backed force to replace the Libyans

The commander of Libya's occupation forces in the central African nation of Chad received an urgent phone call from his government in Tripoli last week. When he hung up, he told reporters that he had received "an order" from Libya's mercurial strongman, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, to withdraw his troops from Chad. Added the clearly shaken soldier: "We must leave immediately!"

This latest turn in Chad's murky political fortunes was unexpected and, like so many events that have preceded it, open to many interpretations. But if Gaddafi does indeed pull out all his...