The Stage is Set for War:
Nigerian President and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bola Tinubu, has formally asked the Nigerian Senate for support to authorize military action in Niger, bringing West Africa one step closer to armed confrontation.
The ECOWAS ultimatum to Niger’s coup leaders ends in two days. If the new junta does not reinstate the detained President Mohamed Bazoum, ECOWAS has promised a military invasion and a naval and air blockade of the country.
According to Nigerian President Tinubu, ECOWAS plans to completely shut down borders to Niger, prevent the operation of commercial and special flights from Niger, and use military force against the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), the new ruling party, if it remains non-compliant with alliance demands.
An ECOWAS delegation departed Niamey International Airport in Niger yesterday after only one session without even meeting coup leaders, signaling a breakdown in negotiations.
Possible Russian Involvement:
President Vladimir Putin has stated, “We reject any foreign intervention in the Niger crisis.”
According to French officials, there are reports indicating that the military junta in Niger established contact with members of Wagner Group during a recent trip to Bamako, the capital of Mali. During the visit, General Salifou Mody, a leader within the junta, held discussions with both Wagner and Mali’s leadership about the potential for foreign intervention in Niger.
Wagner is currently deeply tied to the security situation in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.
Open-sourced intelligence suggests that a Côte d’Ivoire Air Force Gulfstream IV-SP (reg. TU-VAI | 038f46) and a Ghana Government Falcon 900EX (reg. 9G-EXE | 044037) are currently flying to the capital of Nigeria. Most likely, these aircraft are carrying high-ranking politicians or military officials to discuss the situation with potential military action.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reports that a few hours before the coup, the French General Directorate for External Security recommended the deployment of special forces to the presidential palace in Niamey. The government declined the proposal, expressing concerns that such action could be perceived as “colonialism.”
President Bazoum Speaks:
President Bazoum has asked the United States to intervene to help his nation restore “constitutional order” and overthrow the coup that has kept him detained “as a hostage.”
In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, President Bazoum shed light on the situation he and his country are facing, and asked for assistance.
“I write this as a hostage. Niger is under attack from a military junta that is trying to overthrow our democracy, and I am just one of hundreds of citizens who have been arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned. This coup, launched against my government by a faction in the military on July 26, has no justification whatsoever,” Bazoum wrote. “If it succeeds, it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region, and the entire world.”
He highlighted the security situation in Niger, evaluating the threat of Boko Haram and the successful return of refugees to their homes. He also talked of the improvements made by his administration in eliminating that threat with the help of the West. He said, “In fact, Niger’s security situation has improved dramatically — facilitated by the very partnerships the junta opposes.”
He also noted the economic duress Niger will face if the coup holds power, “Foreign aid makes up 40 percent of our national budget, but it will not be delivered if the coup succeeds.”
He criticized the coup leaders for utilizing “criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group”. He also warned that without U.S. aid, “the entire central Sahel region could fall to Russian influence.”
President Bazoum was elected in 2021 and serves as the first democratic transfer of power in Niger since they gained their independence in 1960. Niger has been a key ally for the United States, France, and their regional partners in battling insurgencies and terrorism in the region, as well as Russian influence.