Implications of the recent coup in Niger on international relations


The recent coup in Niger has left many questions about its impact on the country’s relations with the international community, particularly the United States and France. The immediate consequences are evident: instability in West Africa, threats to American and French interests, and increased opportunities for China. Unfortunately, this situation will likely lead to suffering for the African population and further gains for extremist groups, while a quick return to democracy in Niger seems unlikely.

Initial hopes for a peaceful resolution were dashed when the Niger Armed Forces aligned with the coup, despite efforts by France to defuse the situation. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set a deadline for the military to restore the deposed President Mohamed Bazoum to power, but this ultimatum passed without success. Sanctions and power cuts only harm the people of Niger, not the military or insurgents.

The deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso has added to the complexity, testing the newly-appointed UN special representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Leonardo Simão. ECOWAS has planned a crisis response team, but funding remains a challenge. The possibility of African military intervention relies on support from the United States and France.

Political will, leadership, and funding are crucial factors that will determine the outcome.

The Nigerien military has observed the manageable consequences and rewards of coups in neighboring countries and has learned from this history. The lack of sustained American and French involvement in these situations has often led to the involvement of other players like Russia’s Wagner Group. If the US and France do not reevaluate their approach, they risk losing influence to China and Russia, along with access to valuable strategic resources, such as uranium in Niger.

The path forward requires a balanced approach: promoting the rule of law and democracy while pragmatically dealing with undemocratic regimes and military governments. Pragmatism shouldn’t come at the expense of human rights but should focus on serving the interests of marginalized populations by choosing the lesser of evils. Since France reduced its involvement in West Africa, the region has experienced increased displacement, insurgent activity, economic decline, and reduced democracy.

The risks for West Africa are already evident, with cross-border incursions in countries like Cote D’Ivoire and potential impacts on other neighboring countries like Libya, Chad, Togo, Ghana, Senegal, Benin, and Nigeria.

Guinea, another country recently affected by a military coup, is positioned to benefit from the situation through increased mining investments and income capture from Niger and Burkina Faso.

To predict the future trajectory for Niger, several signals must be monitored. The performance of the government’s military against insurgents, attacks in the capital city, and the departure of high-ranking officials could indicate further deterioration. Economic indicators, such as food production and tax income for the military government, will play a significant role. Any of these developments could open the door for China, Russia, or other emerging players in Africa.

In the current scenario, it’s likely that America and France will face losses in investments and counterterrorism bases in Niger. Russia may secure assets in return for military support, while extremist groups gain ground. China stands to profit and expand its influence due to the declining stability in Niger and West Africa as a whole. The situation remains complex, and its evolution will shape the future of international relations in the region.


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