A Dire Situation In West Africa — Is A New War In The Offing?

A Dire Situation In West Africa — Is A New War In The Offing?

Last week’s coup in Niger is tempting Europe and the United States to back track on their insistence that the rules based international order demands that no country invade another country unless attacked by that country. (Of course the West ignored that “rule” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans, but consistency is not the strong suit of Washington, London or Paris). Up till now the West’s hypocrisy has been muted as it condemned the “illegal” Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is about to change. Unlike Russia, who watched Ukraine shell and murder Russian speaking Ukrainians for 9 years, Niger has not attacked U.S. or European citizens. Nope. It simply took the audacious step of asserting control over the uranium mined in Niger. Can’t have the slaves on the Western plantation get all uppity and start acting like they have some rights now, can we?

The Western response is predictable — white foreigners are being evacuated while the United States and France reportedly are cooking up a military operation to dethrone the coup plotters. Adding more fuel to the fire, Niger’s new military leaders reportedly shut down a U.S. military base that is home to a fleet of drones. Jumping in to do the West’s bidding is the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with Nigeria in the lead. ECOWAS is threatening military action against Niger, which also is an ECOWAS member.

This is not sitting well with the new military leaders of Niger:

Rebel leader: Niger will not succumb to pressure and will not restore Bazum as president

Abdurrahman Tchiani also said that no one threatens French citizens in the republic, there are no grounds for their evacuation

The Niger will not succumb to international pressure, the military who seized power in the country will not restore Mohamed Bazum as president of the country. This was stated on Wednesday on national television by the leader of the National Council for Saving the Motherland, General Abdurakhman Tchiani, proclaimed the head of state by the rebels.

Niger will not lean under regional and international pressure to restore President Bazum, Reuters quotes him as saying.

Tchiani also noted that no one in Niger threatens French citizens, there are no grounds for their evacuation. “The French have no objective reason to leave Niger,” Agence France Presse quotes him. “French citizens have never been the object of any threat in Niger.”

France began to evacuate its citizens from Niger on August 1. According to the authorities, 600 out of the 1.2 thousand French registered at the embassy in this African country expressed their desire to return home. Their example will be followed by about 800 citizens of Belgium, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Luxembourg and other countries.

Niger is not alone, at least in terms of rhetorical support — Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso (also ECOWAS members) are warning that any attack on Niger will be treated as an attack on them. It will be interesting to see where Russia, China and India line up in this brewing conflagration.

Europe’s dependence — especially that of France — on Niger’s uranium is forcing the West to remove its mask of being the stalwart defender of democracy. This is not about restoring democratic rule in Niger (just as that principle was tossed aside in the Maidan in Ukraine in 2014). This is about controlling an essential economic resource that France and the rest of Europe needs. To hell with democracy and the rights of the Nigerien people to control their resources; France is intent on asserting its control of its de facto colony.

Those who pin their hopes on logic and reason prevailing to cool tensions and provide for a diplomatic solution might as well hope to capture a mastodon trotting across the Nigerien desert. Ain’t going to happen. That hairy ancestor of the elephants is long gone. Are we going to see the extinction of France’s ability order its servants in Niger to fetch the uranium and to do so with alacrity?

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Author: Larry Johnson