A Former Nigerian Senator Shared 13 Reasons Why His Country Shouldn’t Invade Niger
Andrew Korybko, Jul 31 2023
Former Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani tweeted a list of 13 reasons to his three million followers explaining why Nigeria shouldn’t invade Niger. The West wants Africa’s most populous country to lead a French-backed ECOWAS operation aimed at reinstalling President Mohamed Bazoum, whose ouster could be a game-changer in the New Cold War as was explained here. Sani’s arguments against this are as follows alongside some commentary, after which a few about the global context will conclude this analysis:
1. “Ecowas armed invasion of Niger Republic is simply a war between Nigeria and Niger because of our proximity.” It’s only due to geopolitical convenience that Nigeria has been tasked by the West with invading Niger, since it otherwise wouldn’t entertain the idea of leading an invasion of any country further afield.
2. “Russia and Wagner may come in support of Niger Republic and Nigeria will have to use its own money to prosecute the operation; Nigeria offsets 70% of the budget of Ecowas. I don’t see the US Congress approving unlimited arm supplies for Ecowas to wage war against another country.” Although the Wagner chief supports the coup, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified Monday that this doesn’t reflect Moscow’s official views, but Sani’s speculation can be positive if it deters Nigeria from invading. As for the second point, it’s true that Nigeria would likely be left to foot the bill.
3. “Our bordering states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa and Yobe will incur a direct hit in the event of war.” There’s no doubt that some level of blowback will probably occur if Nigeria invades Niger, with the former’s northern regions being the first to bear the brunt of this, especially regarding refugee influxes.
4. “If there was no military action to dislodge the military coupists in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, why that of Niger Republic?” Sani is suggesting that Niger is different from prior coups because this time the West’s hegemonic interests are threatened in a major way, which is why it wants Nigeria to forcibly reinstall Bazoum.
5. “Why did the American and French military bases inside Niger Republic refused to stop the coup and now they are encouraging us to go to war?” Bazoum would be exposed to the world as a Western puppet if he was saved or returned to power by their hand, which is why they want Nigeria to lead in order to keep up the pretense that he’s a patriot.
6. “Niger has been helpful to Nigeria in the fight against terrorist groups and the country is currently hosting over 303k Nigerian refugees; in the event of war this can be in danger.” Nigeria would backstab Niger by invading it, plus this treacherous aggression could provoke mob violence against its vulnerable refugees in that country.
7. “President Tinubu should not allow himself to be pushed to initiate and trigger a war with a neighbouring country and later be left stranded. No West African country has any military capability to start or sustain a war with Niger Republic; everyone will be relying on Nigeria.” This is a rehash of the last part of Sani’s second point regarding Nigeria being forced to foot the bill for this operation. Not only would most or all of the financial costs likely fall on that country’s shoulders, but so too would the military and humanitarian costs, none of which Nigeria can afford.
8. “We should not cry more than the bereaved; If the people of Niger Republic don’t want military rule, let them fight to remove it themselves. We fought our own military rulers and some of us even went to jail in that struggle. Let them fight their fight.” This pragmatic point emphasizes the multipolar principle of state sovereignty and nudges his audience in the direction of looking into whether Nigeriens are really against this latest coup like the media claims. The reality is that they celebrated it all throughout the capital on Sunday and will likely fight to defend it.
9. “Saudi Arabia is still bugged down in Yemen after spending hundreds of billions of dollars which we don’t have.” Although Nigeria has one of the largest and strongest armies in Africa, it could still get caught in a Yemeni-like quagmire in Niger, but it doesn’t have the funds to fight indefinitely like Saudi Arabia does.
10. “The military regime in Myanmar is still there and not one stronger nation is contemplating military action.” This point complements the previous one by drawing attention to how China and India are pragmatically managing the reality of military-ruled Myanmar instead of plotting to invade it.
11. “We have a war at home against terrorism let’s concentrate here.” Invading Niger could create openings for Boko Harm terrorists and southern rebels to exploit at home.
12. “Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinean forces will likely enter the war to support Niger Republic and they will attack Nigerian territories.” This is speculation just like Sani’s fear that Russia and/or Wagner might get involved, but it can also serve a positive purpose if it deters Nigeria from invading Niger.
13. “President Tinubu must continue to toe the line of dialogue with the military authorities in Niger and not war.” This last point sums up the purpose of the entire list in that it explicitly states the need for Nigeria to rely solely on diplomacy for defusing this crisis instead of being pushed by the West into war.
The Nigerien Crisis is a pivotal moment for Nigeria, since Africa’s most populous country will either successfully exert its sovereignty by refusing to do the West’s regional bidding or recklessly risk harming its objective national interests by voluntarily subordinating itself to being their vassal. Honestly speaking, the second scenario is the most likely, but there’s still a chance that patriotic military officials stumble upon Sani’s list and realize that their country has nothing to gain but everything to lose by invading Niger.
Interpreting Russia’s Official Response To The Nigerien Coup
Andrew Korybko, Jul 31 2023
Last week’s patriotic military coup in Niger could be a game-changer in the New Cold War as was explained here, though this analysis here argues that it might be nipped in the bud if Nigeria ultimately does the West’s bidding by leading an ECOWAS invasion force aimed at reinstalling the ousted president. Those who aren’t already aware of the insight shared in those analyses should at least skim them in order to be brought up to speed and thus better understand Russia’s official response to this event. Sergey Lavrov said on Jul 27:
We believe the coup is an anti-constitutional act. We always occupy a clear position in such cases. We reaffirm our position that it is necessary to restore the constitutional order in Niger.
One day later on Jul 28, his country joined its fellow permanent UNSC members in issuing a joint statement that said:
We strongly condemn the efforts to unconstitutionally change the legitimate Government of the Republic of Niger on Jul 26 2023. We express support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union. We underscore the urgent need for the restoration of constitutional order in Niger in accordance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and express our support for regional and continental mediation efforts.
Two days later, on Jul 30, the AU and ECOWAS gave the junta a two-week and one-week ultimatum respectively. If President Mohamed Bazoum isn’t reinstalled by then, they warned of “punitive measures” that could include the “use of force.” This sequence of events shows that the AU-ECOWAS duopoly is exploiting the UNSC joint statement as the pretext for invading Niger in order to secure their Western patrons’ interests there. None of this is surprising, however, which is why some might wonder why Russia agreed to the same statement that’s being taken advantage of to legitimize its rivals’ regional power play. For starters, Russia always officially condemns anti-constitutional seizures of power, with this being more symbolically important than ever after Ukraine’s Western-backed and fascist-driven “EuroMaidan” coup in spring 2014. That said, this stance and its associated support of peaceful means for restoring the constitutional order in countries that experience these sorts of regime changes don’t automatically equate to it endorsing Western-encouraged invasions to this end. It’s important to note that neither the AU nor its West African-Sahel ECOWAS enforcers put forth their ominous ultimatums by the time that Russia agreed to the UNSC joint statement on Niger. Even though it should have been foreseeable that these threats would follow, the fact that they hadn’t yet officially been made meant that there wasn’t any diplomatic pretext for Russia to break with precedent. For that reason, it supported the UNSC joint statement, which promoted mediation efforts.
The next point to make is that the West has been fearmongering that the Kremlin had a hidden hand in previous military coups in the West Africa-Sahel Region so it would have come off as very suspicious if Russia was reluctant to condemn this latest coup. That approach would have likely fueled an even more intense round of information warfare falsely alleging that Moscow was behind this regime change, thus justifying the planned Western-encouraged ECOWAS-led invasion on an urgent anti-Russian pretext. And finally, since it can’t be taken for granted that the Nigerien junta will successfully repel this invasion in the likely scenario that it’s commenced sometime after the AU’s two-week ultimatum expires, it doesn’t make sense for Russia to signal support for what might very well be a doomed cause. Doing so would be detrimental to its soft power interests since the collapse of that junta could then be spun as a joint Western-African victory over Russia in the New Cold War. None of this is to suggest that Russia is seriously opposed to the junta becoming an interim/transitional government, however, since precedent shows that it has no problem cultivating mutually beneficial relations with military rulers in the region like Mali’s and Burkina Faso’s. If the likely scenario of a French-backed ECOWAS-led invasion doesn’t materialize, yet without the coup leaders capitulating to pressure to reinstall Bazoum, then Niger will probably become Russia’s next strategic partner in the region.
The West Wants Nigeria To Invade Its Northern Neighbor
Andrew Korybko, Jul 31 2023
Last week’s military coup in Niger could be a game-changer in the New Cold War if the junta cuts off the uranium exports upon which France’s nuclear energy industry depends, kicks out its former colonizer’s troops from their last regional bastion, and/or requests Russia’s “Democratic Security” assistance. Unlike the patriotic military coups in Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso, which were condemned by the West but not considered a threat to its neocolonial stranglehold over Africa, the one in Niger is ringing alarm bells. France and the US strongly condemned this latest regime change, with the first suspending all aid in parallel with the EU while the latter is preparing to follow suit. The African Union (AU) gave the Nigerien junta a 15-day ultimatum on Sunday to reinstall ousted President Mohamed Bazoum or risk “punitive measures.” This ominous threat was then echoed by the “Economic Community Of West African States” (ECOWAS), which said that the “use of force” might be employed if this doesn’t happen within a week. The Nigerien junta’s spokesman foresaw this scenario and warned of ECOWAS before their meetings:
The objective of their meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger through an imminent military intervention in Niamey in collaboration with other African countries that are non-members of ECOWAS, and certain Western countries. We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland.
Interim Burkinabe President Ibrahim Traore lambasted many of his peers as imperialist puppets in his speech at the second Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg several days prior for doing the West’s bidding in opposing patriotic military coups such as the one that catapulted him to power last October. His words were timely in light of the AU-ECOWAS threats that made soon thereafter against the neighboring Nigerien junta, which proved that they’re functioning as the West’s regional proxies.
Amidst these rising tensions, Chadian Interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno traveled to the Nigerien capital of Niamey on Sunday to hold talks with the junta, though it’s unclear at the time of this analysis’ publication what the outcome was. His country is a regional military powerhouse whose armed forces could potentially participate in any operation that ECOWAS launches against Niger despite not being a member of that bloc. At the same time, however, there are reasons why it might not do so. This traditional French ally failed to fall for the US’ information warfare provocation earlier this year falsely claiming that Russia was plotting to kill its interim leader. Instead of expelling that country’s ambassador, it kicked the German one out instead after discovering that he was trying to stir up color revolution unrest. Shortly after, “Bloomberg Demanded That Biden Meddle In Chad On The Pretext Of Averting A Sudanese Scenario.” Accordingly, Chad might nowadays be reluctant to do the West’s bidding. Its unexpected multipolar drift in recent months, which most recently saw the Chadian Foreign Minister travel to Russia for last week’s summit in defiance of intense Western pressure upon his country to boycott the event, could explain why its President is leading diplomatic efforts to defuse this latest crisis. At the same time, however, it still can’t be ruled out that Western pressure might prove too much and Chad is ultimately coerced into participating in a potential ECOWAS invasion of neighboring Niger.
Regardless of whatever role Chad may or may not play in that scenario, nothing can realistically happen unless Nigeria agrees to lead the invasion. Although ECOWAS-member Benin is a bit closer to Niamey than Nigeria is, the latter shares a much longer border with Niger and has a stronger military by far. Newly inaugurated President Bola Tinubu must therefore decide whether to do the West’s bidding in overthrowing his northern neighbor’s junta, which is the most important variable in this scenario. It’s expected that maximum pressure will be exerted on Nigeria by the West behind the scenes over the coming week ahead of ECOWAS’ ultimatum expiring. France and the US recognize the threat that the patriotic military coup in Niger poses to their hegemonic interests, which is why they’re ready to pull out all the stops in reversing this possibly game-changing development. For all its potential, Nigeria has largely failed to liberate itself from Western influence, hence why it’s likely to do their bidding. The armed forces and economic elite remain closely connected to that de facto New Cold War bloc. The first are trained by the West while the second got rich through their ties with it, and both of their top representatives regularly vacation there and send their kids to school in those countries. All that the West has to do is threaten to put an end to these relationships, which can then get its proxies to spring into action doing what’s needed to prepare Nigeria for leading ECOWAS’ possible invasion of Niger.
President Tinubu is considered to be a Western-friendly leader, so it’s unlikely that he’d personally be against this anyhow, but even on the off chance that he wanted to defy the West, he’s powerless to resist his Western-influenced military. He’s only been in office for a few months, plus the Nigerian military has traditionally exerted disproportionate influence in shaping policy. These factors combine to make it a fait accompli that Nigeria will play the role that the West expects of it in the Nigerien crisis. Unless President Deby succeeds in brokering a compromise that’s acceptable to France and the US, which isn’t likely but also isn’t impossible either, then there’s a very high chance that Nigeria will lead ECOWAS’ threatened invasion of Niger. Sunday’s large-scale anti-French and pro-coup rallies in Niamey show that this country’s latest regime change is genuinely popular with its people, thus suggesting that the external reimposition of President Bazoum’s despised regime could be met with resistance. This observation doesn’t mean that the probable Nigerian-led ECOWAS invasion won’t succeed in its goal of reversing the coup, but just that it’ll require a lot of effort to sustain and might lead to the bloc being tasked by its Western overlord with carrying out a prolonged occupation. In that scenario, the Nigerien people would suffer under what could become one of the world’s worst neocolonial dictatorships, with France and the US making an example out of their country to deter patriotic military coups elsewhere.
Burkina Faso’s Interim President Told His Peers To Stop Being Imperialist Puppets
Andrew Korybko, Jul 30 2023
Interim Burkinabe President Ibrahim Traore gave a short but powerful speech at the second Russia-Africa Summit that can be read in full at the official Kremlin website here. The highlight was that he told his peers straight to their faces to stop being imperialist puppets, which was admittedly harsh but definitely needed. President Traore never forgot how many of them condemned the coup that he led late last year, which was carried out to bring security and development to his beleaguered people. Here are two relevant analyses about Burkina Faso for those readers who haven’t closely followed it. Readers can now better understand the following excerpt from his speech at last week’s event:
As for Burkina Faso, for the past eight years we have been fighting the most barbaric and cruel form of colonialism and imperialism, which are forcing a modern form of slavery on us. We have learned one thing very well: a slave who cannot protest deserves nothing more than pity, and his future is miserable. We did not wait for anybody to take care of us. We decided to fight the terrorists who are preventing our development. In this struggle, our courageous people decided to take up arms against terrorism. We were surprised to learn that imperialists refer to them as armed groups or militarised groups, while calling people in Europe who take up arms to defend their homeland patriots. Our forefathers were deported to save Europe, and this happened against their will. But when they came back and tried to assert their basic rights, they faced cruel repression. The problem is not when people decide to take up arms. The problem is that the leaders of African countries do not bring anything to people fighting imperialism, calling us armed groups or criminals. We do not agree with this approach. We, the heads of African states, must stop acting as puppets ready to act whenever the imperialists pull the strings.
Just like Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki explained during his meeting with President Putin, President Traore also believes that the West is practicing a modern form of slavery in Africa through its various Hybrid Wars there, one of the fiercest of which is against Burkina Faso. Terrorists are employed by that de facto New Cold War bloc as their proxies, which explains why they try to legitimize their demands by describing them as “armed groups” or “rebels” like the West does in the Malian conflict.
Instead of sitting back and letting his country be destroyed, President Traore and his comrades took matters into their own hands to overthrow the corrupt regime that failed to improve the security situation since taking power earlier that year. It was after leading his own military coup that he learned that Burkina Faso’s struggle is really against the West and not just terrorists. As a newly assumed head of state, he then realized that his peers across the region were also aware of this reality as well. That’s why he was so deeply disappointed in many of them after they condemned his coup exactly as his country’s imperialist enemies wanted them to do. This experience opened President Traore’s eyes to the enormity of Africa’s challenge in fully liberating itself since bonafide modern-day freedom fighters like him, his Malian counterpart President Assimi Goita, and neighboring Niger’s new military junta are opposed tooth and nail by the so-called “African Establishment.”
In fact, the “Economic Community Of West African States” (ECOWAS) promulgated sanctions against Niger on Sunday and also threatened the possible use of armed force if its military leaders don’t reinstate former President Mohamed Bazoum within a week. Readers should know that France and the US, which are jointly working to keep Africa subordinated to the West, have condemned the Nigerien coup and called for its ousted leader’s immediate reinstatement. These observations extend credence to President Traore’s accusation that many of his peers, especially in the West Africa-Sahel region, are imperialist puppets. To be fair, not a single one of them sanctioned Russia despite immense Western pressure upon them to do so, which suggests that they’re relatively more independent than the Burkinabe leader’s harsh words imply. Nevertheless, there’s also no denying that the “African Establishment” opposes anti-imperialist coups just like the West always does.
The reason why those two’s views are aligned on this sensitive issue might have to do more with each respective leader’s political self-interests in deterring such coups at home than with the West pulling their strings behind the scenes, though the latter no doubt occurs, both on this issue and many others. The importance of clarifying this isn’t to discredit President Traore, whose peers definitely deserved his scathing attack, but to add crucial context to what he said. Most of the “African Establishment” is corrupt, doesn’t care about their country’s objective national interests, and is closely connected with the West, all of which is resented by the people over whom they rule and thus perpetually leaves their leaders at risk of a patriotic military coup. All manifestations of anti-imperialism are therefore naturally opposed, especially whenever a related coup happens somewhere on the continent because these corrupt leaders fear that it could inspire their armed forces.
What President Traore just did was break the taboo on patriotic military coups by taking advantage of the global attention afforded to the second Russia-Africa Summit to explain why these sorts of regime changes are required to save their countries from Western-backed terrorism when all else fails. He then rightly shamed those of his peers who condemn these anti-imperialist developments whenever they occur and fail to support them despite these patriotic military coups being in all Africans’ interests. For as impressively as the “African Establishment” has thus far resisted the West’s immense pressure to sanction Russia, which not even those states that voted against it at the UNGA have done, Africa will never become a truly independent pole in the emerging order unless far-reaching reforms occur. These same established forces need to put their personal interests aside for the greater good, but it’s unlikely that the already corrupt ones among them will ever do so, thus exacerbating their people’s ire.
With time, multipolar-inspired anti-government protests might break out and/or patriotic military coups occur, the first of which might even precede the latter and be pointed to by its plotters as proof that they acted in accordance with their people’s will. What’s happening in the West Africa-Sahel region right now with three such regime changes since 2021 in Mali that year, Burkina Faso the next, and now Niger last week is literally revolutionary and greatly accelerates multipolar processes in this part of Africa. There’ll likely be more across the continent in the coming future too, which is why it’s so important to remember President Traore’s impassioned defense of patriotic military coups and strong condemnation of the “African Establishment” for being imperialist puppets in always opposing them. Despite only being in his mid-30s, the Burkinabe leader is wise far beyond his years and could easily become one of the most important Africans of his generation. It’ll be very interesting to follow his career