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Niger’s junta is not backing down, and a regional pressure prepares to intervene. Right here’s what to anticipate

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ABUJA, Nigeria — Regional mediation efforts to reverse the coup in Niger and restore its democracy collapsed as quickly as they began. Tensions have escalated because the Sunday deadline nears for doable navy intervention by different West African international locations.

As its assembly ended Friday in neighboring Nigeria‘s capital, Abuja, the area’s protection chiefs finalized a plan to make use of pressure in opposition to the Niger junta — needing approval by their political leaders — if Mohamed Bazoum shouldn’t be reinstated as Niger’s president. An Financial Group of West African States delegation to Niger, led by Nigeria’s former head of state Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, had tried unsuccessfully to satisfy with the coup chief, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who later declared that any aggression in opposition to Niger “will see an instantaneous response and with out warning.”

What began as an overthrow of the president by his closest commanders within the Presidential Guard has obtained the assist of another troopers, together with the Nigerien military command.

Here is what to anticipate:


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This may be the primary time in years that the regional bloc referred to as ECOWAS would attempt to forcefully put down a coup in West Africa, which has seen a number of profitable coups since 2020.

“The occasions of the final two days make it extra possible that this (navy) intervention may very well occur,” mentioned Nathaniel Powell, Africa analyst on the Oxford Analytica geopolitical intelligence agency. “And if they provide resistance to an ECOWAS intervention, this may change into actually catastrophic.”

ECOWAS can be doing in order a break up household, with three different regimes — Mali and Burkina Faso, which border Niger, and Guinea — selecting to aspect with the junta.

Niger’s different neighbors embrace Chad, whose chief has tried to mediate between the coup plotters and ECOWAS, and Algeria and Libya, which aren’t members of the bloc. This leaves any navy intervention by way of land largely restricted to Nigeria’s 1,600-km (1,000-mile) border with Niger.


It is not but clear what the technique of navy intervention in land-locked Niger would seem like, however the nation enjoys some territorial benefit. With Bazoum being held within the capital, Niamey, the main focus will begin there.

With a inhabitants of 25 million, Niger is West Africa’s second-largest nation by way of landmass, spanning over 1.26 million sq. kilometers (486,000 sq. miles) — 100 occasions greater than that of Gambia, the place ECOWAS final intervened militarily in 2017.

On the frontline of efforts to reverse the coup in Niger is its longtime ally Nigeria, which presently holds the chairmanship of ECOWAS.

Nigeria has West Africa’s largest navy energy of 223,000 personnel — 22 occasions that of Niger’s 10,000, in line with World Financial institution Open Information, and 4 occasions that of Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Niger mixed.

In Niger, some imagine the navy intervention may contain airstrikes. However with Bazoum nonetheless in detention, he could possibly be each a bargaining device and a protect for the junta.

An intervention pressure coming overland from Nigeria must cross a swath of principally unoccupied land that hosts greater than 200,000 refugees who’ve fled violence in northern Nigeria, additional complicating any navy deployment.

Niger’s worldwide airport in Niamey is simply 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the presidential palace the place Bazoum is being held, which may make it harder to be overtaken. The nation has two different worldwide airports, together with one in Agadez, the place the U.S. navy operates a drone base.


The most recent navy takeover amid a resurgence of coups in West Africa has been notably regarding for the West, which noticed Niger as its final remaining strategic companion in its counterterrorism struggle within the Sahel. Niger additionally issues to the worldwide market on varied fronts, together with its 5% share of the worldwide provide of uranium.

Nnamdi Obasi, a senior adviser with the Worldwide Disaster Group, warned {that a} navy intervention “may additionally deteriorate right into a battle by proxy between forces exterior Africa, between these supporting the restoration of democracy and people supporting the junta, which has taken a powerful anti-Western stance.”

On one finish is Niger’s longtime strategic allies the USA and France. On the opposite is Russia and its non-public navy contractor, Wagner, which have been hailed as allies by the navy regimes of Mali and Burkina Faso.


There are fears that any battle within the occasion of a navy intervention by ECOWAS is not going to be restricted to Niger’s capital, Niamey.

“I worry the junta would gladly use its personal individuals as cannon fodder or human shields, and ECOWAS militaries don’t have a very good file relating to avoiding collateral harm,” mentioned James Barnett, a researcher specializing in West Africa at Hudson Institute.

Even the best-case situation from such an intervention would depart ECOWAS troops stationed within the nation as anti-coup forces for what could possibly be a prolonged interval. That does not look good for democracy — each for the nation and the area, mentioned Powell with Oxford Analytica.

“That may make Bazoum seem like he’s solely a president due to overseas armies, and that’s going to destroy his legitimacy.”


Nigeria main the ECOWAS intervention in Niger may face challenges on the homefront, the place its navy has struggled with overstretched, outgunned and outnumbered personnel, preventing armed teams which have killed 1000’s previously yr throughout the northern and central areas.

“Nigerian navy has inner issues in Nigeria,” mentioned Bello Tangaza, a resident of Tangaza in northern Sokoto state. “They’ve bandits, they’ve Boko Haram — however they’ve didn’t sort out these issues they usually need to bounce to Niger.”

A navy intervention led by Nigeria may shift consideration from the armed teams that generally enter the nation by way of the porous border with Niger. 4 individuals have been kidnapped by gunmen on Wednesday in Tangaza district, and residents worry the state of affairs will not enhance anytime quickly if the navy turns its consideration to Niger.


AP journalist Sam Mednick in Niamey, Niger, contributed.

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