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.
What if the “epidemic of coups” in West and Central Africa is not that at all but a direct outcome of outright revolutionary movements, similar to the anti-colonial movements that liberated most African nations from the yoke of Western colonialism throughout the 20th century? Whether this is the case or not, we are unlikely to find out anytime soon, simply because the voices of these African nations are essentially and deliberately muted. For us to understand the real motives behind the spate of military takeovers in West and Central Africa – eight since 2020 – we are, sadly, compelled to read about it in Western media.
Questioning the “sincerity” of France’s comments about the withdrawal of its troops from Niger, the transitional military government, the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), has accused the former colonizer of mobilizing for war. CNSP spokesperson Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said on September 9 that a “hundred or so rotations of [French] military cargo planes unloaded large quantities of war material and equipment” in multiple member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He added that “two A400M type military transport aircraft and a Dornier 328 were deployed as reinforcements in Ivory Coast”, and “two Super Puma type multi-role helicopters” and “around forty armored vehicles” have been deployed “in Kandi and Malanville in Benin”.
Years before emerging as Kiev’s top private weapons trafficker, ex-legislator Serhiy Pashinsky played a key role in the 2014 US-backed coup which toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president and set the stage for a devastating civil war. Though the notoriously corrupt former Ukrainian parliamentarian was condemned by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “criminal” as recently as 2019, a lengthy exposé by the New York Times has now identified Pashinsky as the Ukrainian government’s “biggest private arms supplier.” Perhaps predictably, the report makes no mention of evidence implicating Pashinsky in the 2014 massacre of 70 anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Maidan Square, an incident which pro-Western forces used to consummate their coup d’etat against then-President Viktor Yanukovych.
The Labor Education Project on AFL-CIO International Operations (LEPAIO), an international group of labor activists, scholars, and journalists will hold two actions to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the horrific 1973 military coup in Chile. September 11, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected coalition government of Salvador Allende and ushered in a military dictatorship led by Army General Augusto Pinochet. The coup and subsequent brutal dictatorship were aided and supported by the US government of Richard Nixon and the AFL-CIO of George Meany.
Military leaders in Gabon have taken power, placing the president under house arrest following disputed elections. The military takeover follows recent coups d’état in the former French colonies of Niger (earlier this year), Burkina Faso (2022), Mali (2020 and 2021), and Guinea (2021). Gabon’s military was likely inspired by the recent military coup in Niger, which France and its allies, including Nigeria and the US, have been unable to overturn. “I think, obviously, the soldiers have been inspired by the coups in other countries, beginning primarily in 2020 with Mali,” said Milton Allimadi of Black Star News.
Wild celebrations have broken out on the streets of Gabon’s cities on Wednesday after a military junta announced on television that it had put President Ali Bongo Ondimba under house arrest and had seized power. The Bongo family had ruled the former French colony since 1967. Ali Bongo was the wealthiest man in Gabon with an estimated $1 billion in assets. The coup took place just after the country’s electoral commission declared that he won a third term. It is the fifth coup in a West African country once ruled directly by France since August 2020, when Mali fell to military leaders.
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.
Racism goes beyond the use of certain words or the discriminatory practices of everyday life. It is also about political perceptions, intellectual depictions, and collective relationships. Consider the way that Africa is currently portrayed in the news. From a political viewpoint, Africa is seen as a totality, and not in a positive way, as in a united Africa. For example, mainstream Western media coverage of the US-Africa Summit, held in Washington last December, presented all of Africa as poor and desperate. The continent, one can glean from headlines, was also willing to pawn its political position in the Russia-NATO conflict, in exchange for money and food.
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.
At the end of July, the Presidential Guard of Niger, backed by the military, unseated the current president, Mohamed Bazoum, in a coup supported by the people. In response, the United States and France, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), began planning a military intervention to return Bazoum to power. West African nations, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, quickly declared solidarity with the new government, a move that could turn a military intervention into a greater regional conflict. To understand what is happening in Niger and how it fits into the bigger picture of the rejection of neo-colonialism and US hegemony, Clearing the FOG speaks with Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
On this episode of Journalists for Sale, we tackle West Africa and the recent coverage it has been drawing due to the military junta taking power in the country of Niger. Niger joins the so called “Coup belt” in Africa, where countries like Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali have all experienced military coup takeovers in the last few years. We are joined by David Hundeyin, a Nigerian journalist and filmmaker whose name has been in the news lately for his reporting on the corrupt Nigerian politician and now president of the country Bola Ahmed Tinubu. David helps us understand the anti-imperialist sentiment spreading around the region as well as the roles of countries like Russia and China in trying to present an alternative economic and security alliance as opposed to ECOWAS and the West.