Nigeria junta isn’t backing down, and a regional force prepares to intervene. Here’s what to expect

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP)  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 army intervention by different West African international locations.

On Friday, the area’s protection chiefs finalized a plan to use pressure towards the Niger junta — needing approval by their political leaders — if Mohamed Bazoum shouldn’t be reinstated as Niger’s president. A delegation of the bloc often known as ECOWAS had gone to Niger however couldn’t meet with the coup chief, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, who later declared that any aggression towards 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 help of another troopers, together with the Nigerien military command.

Right here’s what to anticipate:


This is able to be the primary time in years that 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 seemingly that this (army) intervention may very well occur,” stated Nathaniel Powell, Africa analyst on the Oxford Analytica geopolitical intelligence agency. “And if they provide resistance to an ECOWAS intervention, this will develop into actually catastrophic.”

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

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Senate suggested the nation’s president, the present ECOWAS chair, to additional discover choices apart from the usage of pressure to revive democracy in Niger, noting the “present cordial relationship between Nigeriens and Nigerians.” Closing selections by ECOWAS, nevertheless, are taken by a consensus amongst its member international locations.

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 army intervention by means of land largely restricted to Nigeria’s 1,600-km (1,000-mile) border with Niger.


It’s not clear what the technique of army intervention in land-locked Niger would appear like, however the nation enjoys some territorial benefit. With Bazoum being held within the capital, Niamey, the main target 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 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 has West Africa’s largest army energy of 223,000 personnel — 22 occasions that of Niger’s 10,000, in response to World Financial institution Open Knowledge, and 4 occasions that of Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Niger mixed.

In Niger, some consider the army intervention may contain airstrikes. However with Bazoum nonetheless in detention, he might be each a bargaining software and a protect for the junta.

An intervention pressure coming overland from Nigeria must cross a largely unoccupied space that hosts greater than 200,000 refugees who’ve fled violence in northern Nigeria.

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 tougher to be overtaken. The nation has two different worldwide airports, together with one in Agadez, the place the U.S. army operates a drone base.


The most recent army takeover amid a resurgence of coups in West Africa has been significantly regarding for the West, which noticed Niger as its final remaining strategic companion in its counterterrorism combat within the Sahel. Niger additionally issues to the worldwide market on numerous 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} army 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 robust anti-Western stance.”

On one facet are Niger’s longtime strategic allies america and France. On the opposite are Russia and its personal army contractor, Wagner, which have been hailed as allies by the army regimes of Mali and Burkina Faso.


There are fears that any battle within the occasion of a army intervention by ECOWAS won’t be restricted to Niger’s capital.

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

Even the best-case state of affairs from such an intervention would depart ECOWAS troops stationed within the nation as anti-coup forces for what might be a prolonged interval. That doesn’t look good for democracy, each for the nation and the area, stated Powell with Oxford Analytica.

“That might make Bazoum appear 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 army has struggled with overstretched, outgunned and outnumbered personnel, preventing armed teams which have killed hundreds prior to now yr throughout the northern and central areas.

“Nigerian army has inside issues in Nigeria,” stated Bello Tangaza, a resident of Tangaza in northern Sokoto state. “They’ve bandits, they’ve Boko Haram — however they’ve did not sort out these issues and so they wish to bounce to Niger.”

A army intervention led by Nigeria may shift consideration from the armed teams that generally enter the nation by means of the porous border with Niger. 4 folks have been kidnapped by gunmen on Wednesday in Tangaza district, and residents worry the scenario gained’t enhance anytime quickly if the army turns its consideration to Niger. Related – Pakistans ex-PM Imran Khan goes from high office to high-security prison after sentencing

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