What is the fallout of the military coup in Niger?
An elite military unit in Niger has deposed the country’s president, Mohamed Bazoum. The military leadership then sided with coup plotters. Under Bazoum’s rule Niger was considered a key partner of the US and Europe in the region, as a glance at the reactions in the commentary columns of the press confirms.
A bitter loss for the West
La Repubblica explains why the EU’s interests are affected:
“Niger is a central hub of the migration routes connecting West Africa with the Mediterranean. The permeability of the Libyan borders has made Niger an outpost of the EU’s (anti-)migration policy on the southern front — similar to Turkey in the east. Niger has also been able to present itself as a bulwark of democracy in a strategically important and contested region that straddles the Sahel, the Sahara and North Africa and has been rocked by a wave of military coups and authoritarian coups since 2020. ... The overthrow of liberal institutions has often led to a curtailment of the West’s influence in the past.”
People mistrust France
The Süddeutsche Zeitung explains why the West was unable to protect the democratic government:
“Firstly it has to do with the fact that Niger faces some truly fearsome adversaries: climate change, terrorism, the lack of prospects in a rapidly growing society for which there are already far too few jobs. But it’s also because for good reason many people in the region see the West — and France in particular — not as part of the solution but as part of the problem: as an ostensible helper in times of need that in reality wants above all to secure its grip on Niger’s uranium and keep refugees at bay. The fruits of this frustration could now be reaped by Moscow, just as was the case in Mali.”
Russia will benefit
Libération looks at who will suffer and who will benefit from the new situation:
“UN Secretary-General António Guterres has good reason to be ‘very concerned’. ... First and foremost regarding the local populations, because the main beneficiaries of this institutional instability are the Islamist terrorist groups that are rampant in the region. The events in Niamey are very bad news for France, of course, but also for the US, Niger’s preferred security partner until now. Russia, on the other hand, is no doubt glad to see Western influence undermined like this, although it cannot be assumed that Russia was directly behind this coup.”