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As a key deadline passes, what’s next for Niger?

Aug 10, 2023


On July 26, the Presidential Guard in Niger initiated a coup and detained President Mohamed Bazoum and his family. In response, an economic bloc of West African states (ECOWAS) established a deadline for the coup leaders to reinstate constitutional order or face the possible use of force.

As this deadline has now passed without the coup leaders yielding, Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan analyzes three scenarios that could unfold in the troubled nation.

Excerpted from Peter’s August 9 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) set Monday, Aug. 7, as the deadline for the Niger Coup plotters to step down and renounce power. That deadline has come and gone without any change, so what happens now?

This coup shouldn’t surprise anyone; just look at the African Sahel region, and you’ll see they are no strangers to coups. That’s been a harsh reality for the French operating in the area, and the coup in Niger only leaves a few options on the table…pack up and go home, send in some special forces to overthrow the government, or offer aid once the ECOWAS security clause kicks in (if it does at all).

This security clause dips into uncharted territory. Crossing borders has always been a big no-no in West Africa, but it might be time to rewrite some rules. And if anyone can do so, it would be the big dog of the region, Nigeria. And yes, the French would likely throw some aid into the mix.

ECOWAS will meet this Thursday to debate and discuss the coup in Niger. Their decisions and actions over the next few weeks will give us a glimpse of the next few decades in West Africa.

Hey everybody, Peter Zane here coming to you from bear peak, one of the flat irons above Boulder, Colorado. And the news today is that the deadline has passed for the new J coup plotters to renounce power and last civilians back in. Now, some quick background here. The French have been fighting their version of the war on terror in the African Sahel region, which is the zone between the tropics and the desert, the Sahara, for pretty much as long as the United States fought the global war on terror. Obviously, they fought what was the war that was makes more sense to them. So while the Americans were in Iraq and Afghanistan, the French had been moving around in the Sahel region. And just like with the United States, it didn’t go well, it hasn’t been going particularly well for the French either. The problem is that none of the geographies in question are particularly productive. This to hell does get more rainfall than the desert, but not a lot. So agriculture is difficult, and a lot of these countries don’t even have a lot to mine. So you’ve got thin population density, maybe one or two population centers, and it’s really hard for those population centers to exercise the ridge over the rest of the territory, ergo, where the French have come in to partner with the local governments. The problem is those local governments aren’t stable. So the four big ones, ne, J, Mali, Gabon, and Burkina Faso. All former French colonies have now all had coos. And as the first three happened in Guinea and Mali and Burkina Faso, the French have concentrated more and more of their efforts on ni J. And so now that Nisha has had its coup as well, there’s not a lot to go for. So we go one of three directions from here. Number one, the French suck it up, realize that their influence in Oh, oh, realize that their influence in the region is gone, and go home and deal with issues they can deal with, which would probably mean sticking it to the country that has had the biggest influence with the coup plotters, which is Russia. Option number two is the French going hard and send some special forces into knock over at least one of these governments with EJ being the most likely one. And in that scenario, it honestly wouldn’t be too hard to do, because the coup government is just as unstable as what came before. And if you remember back to when we had the war in Libya, turned out the locals couldn’t do the assault on Tripoli. So the French, the Brits, and the Americans each sent in a few dozen Special Forces and basically paved the way to the presidential palace for the resistance and easily overthrew Gaddafi. And then there’s option number three, which is kind of getting interesting, which gets us to the deadline that we saw today was a group called Eco loss, which is the economic organization of West African States, which is trying to be an African version of the EU. And you know, we can find plenty of fault with how they pulled it off. But they do have a security clause, and Eagle Wasp basically told the coup plotters that they needed to step down by today. And they didn’t. So the question now is whether eco wash is going to put its money where its mouth is. Now the French get along very well with most of the countries of equal loss. And the one that matters the most, which is the most powerful one by far is Nigeria, the Nigerian military something like four times as powerful as the combined militaries of all four of the countries that have been taken over by coos. So if the Nigerians do choose to rouse themselves, especially with some French assistance, this could get very, very interesting very, very quickly. And now that it was the deadline has passed, and it was an equal last deadline, not a French deadline, we will find out whether or not the Africans are capable of putting together a security force to cross borders by themselves. Historically speaking, this was a big no no, one of the big contingents of African Union membership and African diplomacy overall was never ever, ever, ever changed the borders, because that reeks of colonialism. But that policy may now be 60 years out of date, and it may very well be time for the regional heavyweight to do something different, or for the French to do something similar. Either way, we’re gonna get some very instructive lessons on what is and is not going to fly in West Africa over the course of the next few weeks. So stay tuned. Take care

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