France’s ambassador to Niger, Sylvain Itté, left Niamey early on September 27, three days after Paris announced that it would also withdraw its 1,500 troops from the West African country by the end of the year. Niger has joined its regional neighbors, Mali and Burkina Faso, in expelling French troops from its soil. The three countries have since forged a pact for collective defense and mutual cooperation, known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), amid rising attacks by armed groups in the region. The AES was formed just days before the 78th session of the United National General Assembly.
In Bamako, Mali, on September 16, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger created the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Colonel Assimi Goïta, the head of the transitional government of Mali, wrote that the Liptako-Gourma Charter which created the AES would establish “an architecture of collective defense and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations.” The hunger for such regional cooperation goes back to the period when France ended its colonial rule. Between 1958 and 1963, Ghana and Guinea were part of the Union of African States, which was to have been the seed for wider pan-African unity. Mali was a member as well between 1961 and 1963.
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.
In a major advancement towards mutual cooperation, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). The move was finalized with the signing of the Liptako-Gourma Charter, named after the tri-border region shared by the three countries, in Mali’s capital Bamako on Saturday, September 16. “This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries…Our priority is the fight against terrorism,” Malian Defense Minister Abdoulaye Diop told journalists. The three countries have committed to “prevent, manage, and resolve any armed rebellion or threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty…
By adding two new African member-states to its roster, last week's summit in Johannesburg heralding the expanded BRICS 11 showed once again that Eurasian integration is inextricably linked to the integration of Afro-Eurasia. Belarus is now proposing to hold a joint summit between BRICS 11, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). President Aleksandr Lukashenko's vision for the convergence of these multilateral organizations may, in due time, lead to the Mother of All Multipolarity Summits. But Afro-Eurasia is a much more complicated proposition.
When US Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, traveled to South Africa on July 29, her reputation as a blunt instrument of Washington’s hegemonic interests preceded her. According to a veteran South African official who attended meetings with the senior US diplomat in Pretoria, however, Nuland and her team were demonstrably unprepared to grapple with recent developments on the African continent — particularly the military coup that removed Niger’s pro-Western government hours before she launched her multi-stop tour of the region. “In over 20 years working with the Americans, I have never seen them so desperate,” the official told The Grayzone, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The political situation in Niger and West Africa as a whole continues to be in a flux. While people and their movements across the region are mobilizing against war and neo-colonial intervention, regional bodies have taken a stand in favor of the status quo. In a communique released on August 22, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) announced its decision to suspend Niger from all the bloc’s activities in response to the July 26 military takeover. The declaration released by the PSC on Tuesday had been adopted at a meeting held on August 14.
Approximately 30,000 people gathered in Niger’s capital of Niamey on August 6, as the country faced a looming threat of military intervention led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc. However, as the deadline set by ECOWAS expired on Sunday, the regional bloc held an emergency virtual meeting with the African Union to discuss the situation in Niger. The bloc did not publicly comment on the expiration of its ultimatum, but did on August 7 issue a brief statement, announcing that the chair of ECOWAS, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, had convened a second Extraordinary Summit of the Authority which would take place in Abuja on August 10, to discuss “the political situation and recent developments in Niger.”
With immediate effect, the Republic of Niger, under the leadership of new president General Abdourahamane Tchiani, and supported by the people of the country, announced the suspension of the export of uranium and gold to France on Sunday. In parallel to the decision, protestors were surrounding the French Embassy in Niger calling for the end of French colonial practices repeating the slogan “Down with France!” and reaffirming their support to the coup leader, Tchiani. Wazobia Reporters, a Nigerien news website,reported one protestor proclaiming “We have uranium, diamonds, gold, oil, and we live like slaves? We don’t need the French to keep us safe.”
The new president of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traoré, has vowed to fight imperialism and neocolonialism, invoking his country’s past revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara and quoting Che Guevara. The West African nation has also formed close diplomatic ties with the revolutionary governments in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran, as well as with NATO’s arch-rival Russia. In January 2022, a group of nationalist military officers in Burkina Faso toppled the president, Roch Kaboré, a wealthy banker who had fostered close ties with the country’s former colonizer, France, where he was educated.
At 3 a.m. on July 26, 2023, the presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Troops, led by Brigadier General Abdourahmane Tchiani closed the country’s borders and declared a curfew. The coup d’état was immediately condemned by the Economic Community of West African States, by the African Union, and by the European Union. Both France and the United States—which have military bases in Niger—said that they were watching the situation closely. A tussle between the Army—which claimed to be pro-Bazoum—and the presidential guard threatened the capital, but it soon fizzled out.
Reaction to the coup in Niger is a litmus test which determines who is truly supportive of self-determination for African nations. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is urging Nigeria to invade neighboring Niger, which is just what the U.S. and France would like to see happen. But the leaders of Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali are standing firm and demanding that the people of Niger, who appear to be supportive of the military involvement in their country, resolve their own conflict without the intervention of imperialist western nations. The leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso announced a joint statement, and were joined by the president of Guinea in upholding sovereignty and Pan-African unity.
On January 18, 2023, the government of Burkina Faso made a decision to ask the French military forces to depart from the country within a month. This decision was made by the government of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who staged the second coup of 2022 in Burkina Faso in September to remove Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power in a coup d’état in January. Traoré, now the interim president of Burkina Faso, said that Damiba, who is in exile in Togo, had not fulfilled the objectives of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration, the name of their military group. Traoré’s government accused Damiba of not being able to stem the insurgency in the country’s north and of colluding with the French (alleging that Damiba had taken refuge in the French military base at Kamboinsin to launch a strike against the coup within a coup).
On 30 September 2022, Captain Ibrahim Traoré led a section of the Burkina Faso military to depose Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power in a coup d’état in January. The second coup was swift, with brief clashes in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou at the president’s residence, Kosyam Palace, and at Camp Baba Sy, the military administration’s headquarters. Captain Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho declared on Radiodiffusion Télévision du Burkina (RTB), the national broadcast, that his fellow captain, Traoré, was now the head of state and the armed forces. ‘Things are gradually returning to order’, he said as Damiba went into exile in Togo. This coup is not a coup against the ruling order, a military platform called the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration (MPSR); instead, it stems from young captains within the MPSR.
This time lower-ranking army officers staged a mutiny in Burkina Faso over the weekend of January 22-23 leaving millions domestically and throughout the region wondering who was actually in control of the landlocked agricultural country formerly colonized by France. During the afternoon on January 24, several soldiers appeared on national television saying they had taken control of the government removing President Roche Marc Christian Kabore who was elected during a transitional process in 2015. The deposed president was reportedly being held at a military camp where one of the mutinies occurred. Other officials including the president of the National Assembly, Allasane Bala Sakande, was also taken into custody by the coup makers.