What You Need to Know:
In a joint statement, Mali and Burkina Faso have pledged military support for the Niger Junta, which seized power last week after ousting President Mohamed Bazoum, in the event of military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The military governments of Burkina Faso and Mali, both of which took power in recent coups, released a six point communiqué stating that they:
1.Express their fraternal solidarity and that of the peoples of Burkina Faso and Mali with the brotherly people of NIGER who have decided in full responsibility to take their destiny into their own hands and to assume before history the fullness of their sovereignty
2. Denounce the persistence of these regional organizations in imposing sanctions aggravating the suffering of the populations and jeopardizing the spirit of Pan-Africanism
3. Refuse to apply illegal, illegitimate, and inhumane sanctions against the people and authorities of Niger
4. Warn that any military intervention against Niger would amount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali
5. Warn that any military intervention against Niger would result in the withdrawal of Burkina Faso and Mali from ECOWAS, as well as the adoption of self-defense measures in support of the armed forces and the people of Niger
6. Warn against the disastrous consequences of a military intervention in Niger which could destabilize the entire region as was the unilateral NATO intervention in Libya which was at the origin of the expansion of terrorism in the Sahel and West AFRICA.
The statement went on to say “The Transitional Governments of Burkina Faso and Mali are deeply indignant and surprised by the imbalance observed between, on the one hand, the celerity and the adventurous attitude of certain political leaders in West Africa wishing to use force armed forces to restore constitutional order in a sovereign country, and on the other hand, the inaction, indifference and passive complicity of these organizations and political leaders in helping States and peoples who have been victims of terrorism for a decade and left to their fate.”
“In any case, the Transitional Governments of Burkina Faso and Mali invite the living forces to be ready and mobilized, in order to lend a hand to the people of Niger, in these dark hours of Pan-Africanism,” the statement added in conclusion.
Why This Matters:
Following the coup, Nigerien military leadership have increase accusations that ECOWAS, backed by France and the United States, will invade Niger to reinstate Bazoum.
During an emergency summit on Sunday, ECOWAS President Dr. Omar Alieu gave the Nigerien Junta a seven day ultimatum, saying that “In the event, the authority demands are not met within one week. Take all measures necessary to restore constitutional ordering in the Republic of Niger. Such measures may include the use of force.” France has denied any potential involvement in the event of intervention.
If ECOWAS does intervene, this has the potential to create a continent-wide conflict between Niger, as well as Mali and Burkina Faso, and the rest of ECOWAS’ member states. Guinea has also voiced support for Niger, saying that it will not follow imposed sanctions against the country by ECOWAS. It is important to note that Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea have all been suspended from ECOWAS due to coups in recent years.
A potential pan-African conflict may also see Russia step into the frame. The juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso are strategic allies of Russia and have been backed by Wagner mercenaries. Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has also offered his services to the Nigerien Junta. With this being said, Russia may position itself as Niger’s main post-coup ally, which will allow Russia to expand its sphere of influence in Western Africa. Support for Russia has already been apparent, as Nigerien protestors at the French embassy in Niamey waved Russian flags.