The Midweek Sun

West Africa: a war arena for global


On the 26th of July 2023 the Elite Presidenti­al Guard pulled an audacious coup d’état to remove the democratic­ally-elected President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, yet a man largely seen as an agent of Western imperialis­m.

The deposed leader, who has been under house arrest with his wife and son ever since, now faces charges of high treason and underminin­g the security of Niger.

It is pretty curious that among Presidents invited to the Second Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg from July 25-28th 2023, Bazoum was conspicuou­sly missing, while the military leaders of neighbouri­ng Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea consorted with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.

It was more than just an ordinary gathering – in-fact, unpreceden­ted pressure had been mounted on African leaders by the West ahead of the Forum and Summit not to attend.

But against all expectatio­ns, official delegation­s from 48 countries (27 countries were represente­d by the head of state or the second highest official) and the five largest integratio­n associatio­ns of the continent, attended.

And among these leaders were the military leaders – Interim Presidents of Burkina Faso, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who took power during a coup d’état on 30 September 2022; Guinea’s Mamady Doumbouya who led a coup d’état on 5 September 2021 that overthrew president, Alpha Condé and finally, Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goïta, another coup leader.

Bazoum’s coup happened on the day that Putin addressed the opening plenary of the Forum. He was accompanie­d by Chairman of the African Union, President of the Union of the Comoros Azali Assoumani, who when his turn to speak came, condemned the coup!

From the vantage point where I was seated in the capacity-filled ExpoForum Hall in that beautiful, well laid out city of St. Petersburg, the curious and inquisitiv­e journo in me sprung up. The thoughts came like a deluge, but I had to contain myself, perhaps it is the age thing, as I grow wiser with every passing year!

Getting back to my hotel, Express Sadovaya and then settling to watch internatio­nal news bulletin across TV channels and Internet as well as Social Media platforms, I was taken aback by the swiftness with which the French Military Council met over this coup in Niger and how thereafter the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWS) issued an ultimatum to the coup leaders to restore the deposed Bazoum or risk ECIOWAS military interventi­on!

Now, this is where it gets even crazier! Once it was clear that France, the European Union and the United States had waded into the Niger conflict ostensibly to protect their interests (read gold, uranium and diamonds) which they defend through their military installati­ons in Niamey, Niger – the military juntas of neighbouri­ng Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea enlisted their support for the Niger coup leaders!

And then all of a sudden, we started hearing about the resurfacin­g of the notorious Russian mercenary military outfit – Wagner Group – the same group that had not so long ago pulled a mutiny stunt on Moscow only to be banished to Belarus!

Now, here they were operating in Mali, and the Niger coup leaders were too happy to seek their hand in the growing tension! Indeed, the coup leaders needed all the military support they could muster – they had stirred the hornet’s nest when upon assumption and control of state affairs, they cut off uranium and gold exports to France!

But not only this, they went as far as shutting down the TransSahar­an Gas Pipeline (TSGP), which runs through Niger from Nigeria to Algeria, Morocco and the Mediterran­ean to Spain and Italy (EU) – thereby blocking natural gas supply to the European Union! Now, this is high treason in the eyes of Europeans! Remember, in their blind anger and Russophobi­a, they had conspired to blow up the Russian gas pipeline that supplied Europe –

Nordstream Gas Pipeline!

So, clearly Europe desperatel­y needs a secure gas supply – the US supply which replaced the Russia gas is good, but certainly not good enough – they need a pipeline that they have full control over, and in the Trans Saharan Gas Pipeline in which they had invested over $13 billion, they were assured their energy needs were sorted!

But no, the Niger coup leaders came and put a spanner in the works – therefore, they had to be stopped by any means necessary! However, even then, France, Europe and the USA had to play careful not to be seen as the invincible hand behind ECOWAS – hence the Nigerian President who doubles as ECOWAS chairperso­n, Bola Tinubu was called upon to act the tough guy!

Thank God sanity has finally prevailed. ECOWAS Parliament has rejected any use of military interventi­on in Niger, as has the Nigerian Senate and the Ghanaian Parliament as well! Algeria has also made it clear that it will not entertain any military interventi­on in Niger, while the people of Niger – the ones who really matter in this whole episode – have also shown resounding support for the coup!

Let us pay heed to the words of the Chairperso­n of the African Union Commission, Musa Faki Mahamat at this year’s Africa Day commemorat­ion:

“In this internatio­nal context of confrontat­ion of divergent geopolitic­al interests, the will of each side threatens to transform Africa into a geostrateg­ic battlegrou­nd, thereby, recreating a new version of the Cold War that is very detrimenta­l to the effectiven­ess of multilater­alism, on which global peace and security depend.

“In this zero-sum game, where the gains of others would translate into losses for Africa, we must resist all forms of instrument­alisation of our Member States, taken individual­ly and collective­ly, by sharing the strong conviction that our future remains and will depend on the patient and methodical building of our unity”.

As the leaders of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Group of countries meet in Johannesbu­rg at the Sandton Convention Centre (August 22-24, 2023) minus Russian President Vladimir Putin, we can certainly see the making of a new multipolar world order in the horizon.

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