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.”
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 21 November 2022, Mali’s interim prime minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, issued a statement on social media announcing the government’s decision ‘to ban, with immediate effect, all activities carried out by [French] NGOs operating in Mali’. This announcement came a few days after the French government cut Official Development Aid (ODA) to Mali, alleging that Mali’s government is ‘allied to Wagner’s Russian mercenaries’ (referring to the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group). Colonel Maïga called the French claims ‘fanciful allegations’ and a ‘subterfuge intended to deceive and manipulate national and international public opinion for the purpose of destabilising and isolating Mali’. This is the latest expression of a new mood that has gripped the areas of northern Africa where France once wielded colonial rule.
Climate change is affecting nations in a disproportionate manner with tropical low-income countries with a lesser share in emissions bearing the brunt in comparison to wealthy nations that are more responsible for global warming. A research paper published in Science Advances recently estimated the economic loss faced by countries due to climate change over a period of 20 years. From 1992 to 2013, the global economy suffered losses amounting to around $5 trillion-$29 trillion due to global warming. But the insurmountable global loss in terms of economy, the research suggests, was not equally shared. Worryingly, the national income of low-income tropical countries declined by around 6.7% while wealthy nations suffered a decline of only about 1.5%.
After a nine year long occupation, French troops have completed their withdrawal from Mali. Mass-demonstrations calling for removal of French troops from Mali have been recurring, especially since 2020, often mobilizing hundreds of thousands people. In February this year, when French president Emmanuel Macron announced that French forces would withdraw in the next four to six months, celebrations broke out across the country. We look at the record of the French in Mali and what lies ahead for the country.
On May 2, 2022, a statement was made by Mali’s military spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga on the country’s national television, where he said that Mali was ending the defense accords it had with France, effectively making the presence of French troops in Mali illegal. The statement was written by the military leadership of the country, which has been in power since May 2021. Colonel Maïga said that there were three reasons why Mali’s military had taken this dramatic decision. The first was that they were reacting to France’s “unilateral attitude,” reflected in the way France’s military operated in Mali and in the June 2021 decision by French President Emmanuel Macron to withdraw French forces from the country “without consulting Mali.”