Welcome to the Next Proxy War: France and US Back West African ‘Democracies’ Trying To Overturn Niger Coup, While Russia Backs Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea Vowing To Defend the Military Junta
The stage is set for military conflict in Africa. Following Niger’s coup d’état that ousted president Mohamed Bazoum, France and the Western community are backing the Economic Community of West African States, that issued an ultimatum to the coup junta, threatening military action as the last resort. So far, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin have confirmed their readiness to take part in the intervention.
On the other side, Russian-friendly Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali – called the ‘Coup Association’ by its detractors online, have already locked arms and vowed to defend Niger in case of attack.
Niger’s ‘National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland’ has denounced the military pact with France and warned the neighboring African states not to intervene.
“In a televised address on Thursday night, a representative of the putschist government said that Niger will ‘immediately’ suspend all military cooperation agreements with France, including the deal under which Paris has deployed around 1,500 troops in the Sahel country.
Earlier in the day, on the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence from Paris, [provisional leader] Tchiani’s junta blocked the signal of French broadcasters France 24 and Radio France Internationale (RFI), again according to AFP.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has issued an ultimatum to Niger to restore the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum by Friday or face a military intervention. Niger’s southern neighbor Nigeria has already begun mustering troops on the border, according to local media.”
Both Mali and Burkina Faso have said that they would consider any invasion of Niger an act of war against themselves.
“The junta ‘rejects all sanctions and refuses to yield to any threat, wherever it may come from’, Tchiani said in a televised speech on Wednesday. ‘If they [ECOWAS] pursue their destructive logic to the end, may Allah watch over Niger and ensure that this is the final great battle we will fight together for a true independence of our nation’.”
At this point, frantic diplomatic negotiations are taking place to avoid a conflict that can engulf Russia and the West in yet another proxy war.
“A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) arrived in Niamey on the evening of Thursday August 3 to try to find a way out of the crisis, eight days after the coup d’etat in Niger which overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.
The elected official, sequestered at his home, spoke through a forum in the American newspaper Washington Post: ‘I call on the American government and the entire international community to help restore constitutional order, fight for our common values’, he wrote while recalling the ‘devastating’ consequences of the coup, in particular the ‘Russian influence’ propagated by the Wagner Group in the Sahel region.”
While ECOWAS insist military action is the last resort, Nigeria has moved troops to the Niger border, and countries like Senegal have already signaled their readiness to engage in military action if the ultimatum is not respected.
“On Thursday, the programs of RFI (Radio France Internationale) and the news television channel France 24 were interrupted in Niger, ‘a decision taken outside any conventional and legal framework’, according to the parent company of the two media, France World Media.”
The signal of the channels was cut by orders of the nbew military authorities.
“France ‘very strongly’ condemned this decision and ‘reaffirmed its constant and determined commitment to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the protection of journalists’, declared the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a communicated. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for its part denounced ‘a violation of the public’s right to plural information in an already difficult security context in the Sahel’.”
The situation can be understood in the context of the fading French influence in the continent, while Russia has just concluded a summit with its many African partners, eyeing ever-growing ties in the region.
“Not everyone is hostile to the coups in Niger and other African nations in the past few years that have worried the West. In the ‘family photo’ for last week’s Russia-Africa Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood next to Ibrahim Traore, the young military officer who seized power in Burkina Faso in September.
It was an uncomfortable moment for many leaders elsewhere in Africa. ‘The normalization and dignifying of military takeovers must trouble our great continent’, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs wrote while sharing the photo this week.
Now Burkina Faso and another military junta-led country friendly with Russia, Mali, have taken the unusual step of declaring that foreign military intervention in neighboring Niger after last week’s coup would be considered a declaration of war against them, too.
[…] ‘A possible regional-level scenario might see the military juntas in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso team up’ to challenge the region’s traditional response to coups, [a UN report] said. It warned they could defy sanctions and stand for elections, with help from ‘new international alliances’.”
Niger was the United States and allies’ last major counterterrorism partner in the region.
Now, ECOWAS ‘stands with [their] people’ in a commitment to the rule of law, as they said in a message at its emergency meeting this week, where they discussed their
“The 15-nation bloc summoned its defense chiefs to discuss its threat to ‘take all measures necessary (that) may include the use of force’ if ousted Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated within one week. ECOWAS is resolved to use military force after economic and travel sanctions used against the coup plotters failed, according to a Western diplomat in Niamey who did not want to be identified for security reasons.
How the bloc would carry out its threat remains unclear given its lack of coordination in providing security regionally and formally with the U.S. State Department in Niger, said Aneliese Bernard, director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors.
‘There’s not enough actual trust among ECOWAS members, and that lack of trust is what will break any type of coordinated response’, Bernard said.”