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Niger has become the fourth country in the Sahel to experience a coup motivated by anti-Western sentiments


e capital of Niger. The troops, led by Brigadier General Abdourahmane Tchiani, closed the country's borders and declared a curfew. The coup was immediately condemned by the Economic Community of West African States , by theAfrican Union and by theEuropean Union.

France and the United States, which have military bases in Niger, said they were monitoring the situation closely. A standoff between the army – which claimed to be pro-Bazoum – and the presidential guard threatened the capital, but it quickly died out. On July 27, Army General Abdou Sidikou Issa issued a communicated saying he would accept the situation for "avoid a deadly confrontation between the different forces which… could cause a bloodbath". Brigadier General Tchiani appeared on television on July 28 to announce that he was the new president of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland (CNSP).

The coup in Niger follows similar coups in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021) and Burkina Faso (January 2022 and September 2022) and Guinea (September 2021). Each of these coups was carried out by military officers angered by the presence of French and American troops and the ongoing economic crises inflicted on their countries. This region of Africa, the Sahel, faced a cascade of crises : the drying up of the land due to the climatic catastrophe, the rise of Islamic militancy due to the NATO war in Libya in 2011, the increase in smuggling networks to traffic arms, human beings and drug smuggling across the desert, the appropriation of natural resources – including uranium and gold – by Western corporations that simply have not paid enough for these riches, and the entrenchment of Western military forces by building bases and operating these armies with impunity.

Two days after the coup, the CNSP announced the names of the 10 officers who lead the CNSP. They come from the full range of the armed forces, from the army (General Mohamed Toumba) to the air force (Colonel-Major Amadou Abouramane) via the national police (Deputy Director General Assahaba Ebankawel). It is now clear that one of the most influential members of the CNSP is General Salifou Mody, former army chief of staff and head of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, who led the coup. February 2010 state against President Mamadou Tandja and who ruled Niger until Bazoum's predecessor Mahamadou Issoufou won the 2011 presidential election. It was during Issoufou's tenure that the government of UNITED STATES has built the largest drone base in the world in Agadez and that the French special forces garrisoned the town of Irlit on behalf of the uranium mining company Orano (formerly a subsidiary of Areva).

It is important to note that General Salifou Mody is perceived as an influential member of the CNSP given his influence in the army and his international contacts. On February 28, 2023, Mody met with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, at the African Chiefs of Staff Conference in Rome to talk about «regional stability, including cooperation against terrorism and the continued fight against violent extremism in the region". On March 9, Mody traveled to Mali to meet Colonel Assimi Goïta and the Chief of Staff of the Malian army General Oumar Diarra to strengthen military cooperation between Niger and Mali. A few days later, on March 16, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to in Niger to meet Bazoum. In what many in Niger perceive as a sidelining of Mody, he was appointed on June 1 Ambassador of Niger to the United Arab Emirates. Mody, it is said in Niamey, is the voice in the ear of Brigadier General Tchiani, titular Head of State.

Corruption and the West

A very informed source in Niger tells us that the reason why the military moved against Bazoum is that “he is corrupt, a pawn of France". Nigerians were fed up with him and his gang. They are arresting members of the fallen system, who have embezzled public funds, many of which have taken refuge in foreign embassies. The problem of corruption hangs over Niger, a country that has one of the most lucrative uranium deposits in the world. The “corruption” spoken of in Niger is not about small bribes from government officials, but about a whole structure – developed during French colonial rule – that prevents Niger from establishing sovereignty over its matters. first and on its development.

At the heart of the “corruption” is the so-called “joint venture” between Niger and France called Société des mines de l'Aïr (Somaïr), which owns and operates the uranium industry in the country. It is striking that 85% of Somaïr is owned by France's Atomic Energy Commission and two French companies, while only 15% is owned by the Nigerien government. Niger patented more than 5% of the world's uranium, but its uranium is of very high quality. Half of export earnings Niger comes from sales of uranium, oil and gold. One in three light bulbs in France is fed by uranium from Niger, while 42% of the population of the African country lived under the poverty line. The people of Niger have seen their wealth slip through their fingers for decades. In a sign of government weakness, over the past decade Niger has lost more than $906 million in just 10 arbitration cases brought by multinational corporations before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes and Chamber of Commerce Union .

France stopped using the franc in 2002 when it switched to the Euro. But, fourteen former French colonies continued to use the African Financial Community (CFA), which gives immense advantages to France (50% of the reserves of these countries must be held in the French Treasury and the French devaluations of the CFA – as in 1994 – have catastrophic effects on the countries that use it). In 2015, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno said that the CFA "pulls down African economies" and "the time had come to cut the cord that prevents Africa from developing". Talking now across the Sahel is not just about the withdrawal of French troops, as happened in Burkina Faso and Mali – but a break with the French economic hold on the region.

The new non-alignment

At the 2023 Russia-Africa Summit in July, Burkina Faso's leader, President Ibrahim Traore, wore a red beret that echoed the uniform of his country's slain socialist leader, Thomas Sankara. Traoré reacted strongly to the condemnation of military coups in the Sahel, in particular to a recent visits in his country of a delegation from the African Union. "A slave who does not rebel does not deserve pity", does he have dit. "The African Union must stop condemning Africans who decide to fight against their own puppet regimes in the West».

In February, Burkina Faso hosted a meeting that included the governments of Mali and Guinea. On the agenda is the creation of a new federation of these states. It is likely that Niger will be invited to these conversations.

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