West Africa On the Brink of War

1 min read

Niger is inching closer to a conflict with neighboring West African nations, following the coup that removed the elected president.

Diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions between Niger and its neighbors have so far failed. Although Niger is a relatively minor power, many outside nations have security and energy interests in it. Reuters reports:

… coup leaders, headed by General Abdourahamane Tiani, have rebuffed diplomatic efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States and others, raising the spectre of further conflict in the impoverished Sahel region of West Africa, which is already overrun by a deadly Islamist insurgency.

At stake is not just the fate of Niger – a major uranium producer and Western ally in the fight against the Islamists – but also the influence of rival global powers with strategic interests in West and Central Africa, where there have been seven coups in three years.

Niger’s coup is one of many Western African nations under military dictatorship. The fight against terrorism is the dominant threat uniting all these juntas, who see Western backed presidents as ineffective. Bloomberg reports:

The Nigerien general’s name is Abdourahamane (Omar) Tchiani. As commander of the presidential guard, he was supposed to protect President Mohamed Bazoum, elected in 2021 and a rare American ally in the Sahel. But when Bazoum mused about replacing Tchiani, the general showed up with his junta and goons. Bazoum fled across the hall from his office into a safe room. Holed up, he’s been begging the outside world for help, even dictating an op-ed article in the Washington Post by phone.

If the coups in Burkina Faso and Mali are any guide, here’s what’ll happen next. Niger’s junta will kick out French and American troops stationed there and throw itself into the arms of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, a ruthless Russian mercenary army. Even as the Nigerien revolt was underway, Putin was hosting other pliant African leaders in St. Petersburg, schmoozing them into supporting, or at least not opposing, his war against Ukraine.

The Niger junta is also willing to execute the president, making any military action more fraught. Whether Western troops leave Niger if asked, or if they will join in overthrowing the junta, could have global implications.

READ NEXT: Biden Pays Ransom to Iran for Hostages

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog