Niger Military Coup: More than Meets the Eye

Wagner – Niger – Washington – What’s the Connection?

There were several military coups in West Africa lately. Mostly in former French colonies, and in many ways “neo-colonies” of France, that do arguably more harm to the Sahel countries than the more than 300 years of French “on-the-ground” colonies, or enslavement. Though, this latter crime is not to be discarded at all. It has been an across-Africa genocide of unimaginable proportions, that, so far went unpunished.

But the new crime, the financial and military strategic econo-political colonization, needs to be brought to the fore now.

Among the coup countries are Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, but also Nigeria – a former British colony.

Of all these “coups”, Niger gets by far the most attention, and seems to be at the center of the controversy.

At the outset it looked like the military staged a coup to get the France-friendly President Mohamed Bazoum, out of the way and to move away from the French monetary hegemony, the Franc CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine, or African Financial Community). See also this pm+

On second thought, however, another image emerged, especially after Madame Victoria Nuland’s, US Deputy Secretary of State, personal visit to Niamey, Niger, where she was purportedly denied access to the deposed President, and was apparently snubbed by the new military leader, General Abdourahmane Tchiani.

The latter is not very plausible, but is once more a “media coup” against the truth. Ever more evidence emerges that Niger’s coup was supported by the US. Washington has three military bases in Niger and at least between 3,000 and 4,000 military personnel stationed in Niger.

One of the US bases is a strategically important drone base, in the Agadez region, known as Niger Air Base 201. Following its permanent base in Djibouti, Niger Air Base 201 stands as the second-largest US base in Africa.

France still has at least 1,500 military stationed in Niger. This, even though French President Macron had promised to withdraw them, as soon as General Tchiani “requested” him to do so. Everything must be questioned now. Did Tchiani really request a withdrawal of French troops?

What appears (almost) sure is that the US were supporting the military coup, if not helping General Tchiani – who served as the chief of the Nigerien presidential guard (2011-2023) – to the military take-over. See also this important analysis by Professor Chossudovsky.

What’s at stake?

The deposed President Mohamed Bazoum had Macron’s support, not only because he allowed France’s shameless exploitation of Niger through the CFA Franc (for more details see here), but also because France exploits Niger’s rich uranium and high-purity petrol – and has access to Niger’s other mineral riches.

Besides, and maybe most importantly, Niger is a landlocked Sahel country, strategically located in the center of North Africa, between Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Chad and Libya (see Google map, left).

Being in control of Niger is, in a way, like being in control of Kosovo, the US engineered cut-out piece of land from Serbia, in the middle of former Yugoslavia, bombed to rubble by President Clinton, to divide and conquer – conquer the area.

That is what Niger may become if the US has its say. Washington does not want France involved anymore. Being in control of Niger is like being in control of at least northern West Africa, a resources-rich, but an extreme poverty-stricken territory – which Washington suspects may also interest Russia and possibly China.

It is not a well-kept secret that the private Russian Wagner army has had a foothold in this part of Africa of several thousand mercenaries for at least a couple of years, maybe longer – in Chad, Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, and maybe even Nigeria.

Now the plot – a purely speculative plot – goes even further. The leader of the Wagner private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was supposedly killed in a plane crash last Wednesday, on 23 August 2023, between Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, rumors go that he may not have been on the same plane with all his other military brass, a custom he had followed in the past. Therefore he may have escaped the crash.

Rumors say he had been seen after the plane “accident”, in the Central African Republic, where he has his African headquarters, and where he is a hero.

He had been “killed” before and reappeared. So, who knows, this may be his final death. But there is apparently a super-modern clinic with three German plastic surgeons, near his Central African headquarters.

A Russian mercenary army in North Africa that may still be fighting for Russia would be most uncomfortable for Madame Nuland and her hegemonic ilk in Washington.

What to do about it? – An immediate question posed by Washington.

The US attempt is to make sure that Niger, the country of strategy, a member of the US / NATO France supported ECOWAS, will not slip out into liberty from “independence” some 60 years ago.

Shortly after the Niger military coup, Mr. Putin has cautioned not to interfere in Niger’s internal affairs. He was referring precisely to ECOWAS which has “warned” of an ECOWAS military intervention, if the French aligned deposed President Bazoum, would not be returned immediately to the Presidency. In hindsight, and knowing what we know now, the ECOWAS warning too, was a media manufactured untruth by “design”.

ECOWAS is The Economic Community of West African States. It is one of 8 African regional political and economic unions. ECOWAS has 15 member countries located in Central and West Africa. But ECOWAS is divided within. Without the support of the US / NATO and France, it may fall apart. Therefore, a warning from ECOWAS has only meaning when an “arrangement” has been reached before.

Niger’s main party, represented by General Tchiani, the Conseil National pour la Sauvegarde de la Patrie (CNSP), roughly translated as “National Movement for the Defense of the Homeland”, has had Pentagon support, including military training, since its creation.

This means the US is well-established within Niger, and by association within central and West Africa – and they do not want to lose out on this highly strategic – and resources-rich – African position; not to the French, not to the Russians – and not to China.

But, then there is still the unconfirmed suspicion of a mercenary army roaming through Western Africa – and who knows – just in case – what their plans might be, and for whom they might fight.

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he worked for over 30 years around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)  Peter is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and is also a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing. Read other articles by Peter.