Coup in Niger and its implications


Coups are part of Africa, so it would seem. The times when one country after another held democratic elections and became more like the West are long gone.

In West Africa in particular, coups are frequent. The most recent one was in Niger, one of the poorest states in the world and located in the Sahel region. Last year it was its neighbor Burkina Faso’s turn to depose the government and replace it with a military regime, and in another neighboring country, Mali, this already happened in 2020.

The outcome and the reaction are also more or less the same every time: either the army, or the presidential guard (as in the case of Niger) revolts because their forces would be cut, and quickly all resistance crumbles because the power in the military is set. The president, sometimes elected as in the case of Niger, more often a former general himself, is replaced by a military one junta with a name like “Patriotic Front for the Salvation of the Fatherland”, or something similar, the head of the junta nominates himself as president of a transitional government and promises elections and/or a new constitution in the future without mentioning a date or feeling bound by it.

Western countries condemn the coup with virtually the same words every time and apply certain sanctions that have little effect.

Africa will remain Africa and these countries have no influence on world affairs, one is inclined to say. However, this would be a mistake, because the coup in Niger is another domino falling in the geopolitical strategy of the West.

The Sahel region was traditionally under the influence of France, the old colonial power until 1960, and France is still present with military bases in several countries. Since the increasing activity of Islamic terrorist groups in the Sahel region, the West has become more active in its fight against terror here.

This was especially the case after an Islamic and Tuareg alliance occupied the northern half of Mali in 2013. France, after a request for help from the government of Mali, ended the rebellion, without achieving real peace. Other states in the region have also become part of the Western anti-terrorist alliance, against good compensation. However, France and its EU allies have been being supplanted for some time by Russia, specifically in the form of the Wagner mercenary group.

In Mali, after the 2020 coup, the new military regime made no secret of its anti-Western stance and unequivocally ended the French presence and invited Russian mercenaries in its place. Also Burkina Faso is no longer receptive to a Western presence since the coup.

Both Russia and the Islamic insurgents will benefit from this coup, with which the West’s last ally in the region in the form of President Mohamed Bazoum has fallen away. Regardless of the new leaders’ attitude towards the foreign powers and Islamism, they will spend all their energy on establishing their rule and not participating in alliances.

Russia as the more unscrupulous power has an advantage over the West, which also emphasizes democratically elected leaders.