Why the Coup in Niger Could Have Global Consequences
On July 29, 2023, at 12:40, a military coup took place in Niger, marking yet another coup in the region. Niger was considered a relatively stable factor in counterterrorism efforts, migration deals, and commodity trade. With the West potentially losing its ally and Russia gaining more influence in the region, the repercussions could be far-reaching.
According to Africa correspondent Sophie van Leeuwen, the coup is a blow to the West, particularly for France, the former colonizer, which heavily relies on uranium from Niger for its nuclear energy. Moreover, Niger serves as a crucial military base for the international community. The European Union has already announced that it will not recognize General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the coup leader, as the new authority. Financial aid to the country has been halted, and security cooperation has been terminated. Mirjam de Bruijn, a professor of African Studies at Leiden University, emphasizes that the situation in Niger was relatively stable, allowing France and the EU to exert military control in the region. With this stability at risk, the consequences could be concerning. The surge in coups in Central and West Africa in recent years is connected to a prevailing sentiment against the old colonial powers, especially France. Economic hardships exacerbate the situation, igniting unrest in various places. The people in West Africa feel that they have not truly decolonized, as France's influence remains significant, and the profits from African resources often flow out of the region due to corruption. The anti-French sentiment is exploited on social media, where influencers with pro-Russian messages gain traction. The growing Russian influence is not yet highly visible, but it is undoubtedly present, as Russia seeks to exploit resources like gold, uranium, and materials essential for electric vehicles. Russian entities, such as Wagner, play a role in this exploitation. They promise to help African governments combat jihadist groups, a role that was previously undertaken by European and American forces. If Niger loses its status as a military base, the region may be left with relatively weak armies bolstered by a few thousand Russians trying to combat the jihadists, which could lead to a stronger presence of these groups. Niger's significance in migration deals is also a major concern. As a gateway to North Africa, many migrants pass through Niger on their way to Tunisia and Libya. Collaborations in migration management have been established in exchange for economic support. Should Niger now fail to uphold these deals, it could open up migration routes to Europe, potentially leading to increased instability and migratory pressures. The coup's consequences are not limited to the global stage; the impact on the people of Niger should also be considered. Leaving these countries in the hands of Russia may not be an ideal solution. Ensuring that these regions are stable and supported is essential, even if it means addressing the neo-colonial implications. The United Nations warns that such instability could lead to a surge in migration. In conclusion, the coup in Niger has the potential for far-reaching consequences, affecting not only the country itself but also its allies, migration dynamics, and global geopolitics. Finding a balanced approach to address the underlying issues and maintain stability is crucial for both the international community and the people of Niger.