Above Photo: Activists picket in front of the UNGA. Wyatt Souers/ Party for Socialism and Liberation.
US activists protested outside of the UN General Assembly against US and French imperialism and warmongering in the Sahel.
On Tuesday September 19, the opening day of the United Nations General Assembly, anti-imperialist activists rallied outside the UN Headquarters in New York City to demand that France end its imperialist meddling in West Africa and the Sahel. Organizers with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the December 12th Movement, Bridging Africa and Black America, and others denounced the neocolonial policies of the European nation and voiced solidarity and support to Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Niger, which recently underwent coups opposing French neocolonialism. Activists demanded that France end its neocolonial exploits in the Sahel, principally Niger.
Niger’s new government, which opposes French troops in the country, has announced that it will end all military cooperation with France. Following the coup in Niger, on August 3 the new government canceled all agreements permitting French troops in the nation, allowing the agreements to expire on September 3. After this date, French troops in Niger are “in a position of illegality,” according to the new Prime Minister, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine. In response, France appears to be mobilizing for war against Niger.
Niger’s government also announced that it would end France’s super exploitation of its uranium supply. Resource-rich Niger is the world’s seventh-largest producer of uranium on the planet, much of which is exported to France for the European nation’s electricity needs. However, Nigeriens live in poverty (with over 40% living in extreme poverty) and only 18.6% of the country has access to electricity.
Not only did the activists present oppose France’s neocolonial grab for control over the African nation, many also expressed opposition to the ways in which the United States continues to exploit and oppress the African continent. Activists picketed in front of the assembly to chants of “France out of Africa, US and NATO too!”
“The struggle of African people all across the continent, and particularly in the Sahel, is not isolated, it’s not alone,” said Eugene Puryear, journalist with BreakThrough News and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, at the demonstration. “[The Nigerien struggle is] not standing just with themselves, but it’s standing with the people of the world who are demanding France, the US, and NATO out of Africa, and out of Africa immediately.”
“All across the African continent, they’re standing up. The whole continent is on fire right now. So we haven’t seen the last of the masses of African people toppling governments. We’ve only seen the very beginning,” Puryear said, referring to the successive coups across the continent in nations such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea that installed anti-neocolonial governments. These three nations including Niger recently formed the “Alliance of Sahel States” to promote peace and stability in a region decimated by terrorist attacks. The Alliance also counterbalances the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which, influenced by Western interests, has suspended and heavily sanctioned the four nations as a result of their striving for independence.
“They’re kicking France out. America is going to be next. Right now, the US thinks they’re safe because they focus on France. They don’t understand that Africans are tactical… And the same way the French Air Force is going to be gone, trust me, the US drone base is gonna be right out of there in Niger,” Puryear continued.
The US Air Force’s largest construction project was the base they built in Niger, as part of the Pentagon’s Africa Command. While most of the popular anger of the Nigerien people has been directed against France, Nigeriens have gathered to demand the closure of this drone base as well as the expulsion of the 1,100 US troops stationed in the country.
“As a young Black person in the United States, I know the full extent of what the United States has done to the African continent, from helping orchestrate the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, to helping kill great leaders like Thomas Sankara, to the illegal US-NATO invasion of Libya. The United States has no goodwill toward Africa,” Kameron Hurt, an organizer with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee and a representative of the International Peoples’ Assembly, told Peoples Dispatch.
“The same way the United States has devastated Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, it is continuing its warpath by viciously attacking any nation pushing for sovereignty in Africa. And the people of the United States are standing up against it today to say that even in the heart of world imperialism, even in New York City, there are many people from many backgrounds who are standing up against US and European domination of any part of the world,” Hurt added.