Niger’s neighbors set ‘D-Day’ for intervention

Lazy eyes listen


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military commanders have agreed on a timetable for sending soldiers into Niger, said the bloc’s commissioner for political affairs, peace, and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, on Friday.

“We are ready to go whenever the order is given,” Musah told reporters after the bloc’s Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff met in Accra, Ghana, for two days. “The D-day is also set. We’ve already decided on and fine-tuned the intervention requirements.”

“Let no one doubt that if all else fails, the valiant forces of West Africa, both military and civilian, are ready to respond to the call of duty.”

Musah, speaking at the meeting’s closing ceremony, cited earlier ECOWAS deployments in Gambia and Liberia as instances of effective intervention, and declared that “constitutional order will be restored” in Niger “by all means available.” He noted that the group was also planning a “mediation mission” to Niamey to give diplomacy an opportunity.

ECOWAS military chiefs said earlier this week that they had “commenced the activation of the Standby Force” for intervention in Niger, where the military deposed President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26.

ECOWAS initially gave Niamey a seven-day ultimatum to restore Bazoum, then stated on August 4 that it had “finalized plans” for involvement and activated the Standby Force force on August 10. According to the French radio RFI, the bloc is mobilizing some 25,000 troops, the majority of whom are from Nigeria and Senegal.

Not all members of the bloc support intervention. Both Chad and Guinea have rejected Niger sanctions and military deployment. Burkina Faso and Mali’s military governments stated any military action against Niamey would be interpreted as a declaration of war.

Niger has accused ECOWAS of acting as the proxy of France, the country’s former colonial ruler. Speaking on Friday, Musah insisted that the bloc is a “rules-based organization,” ready to intervene alone or with support of “other democracy-loving partners.”

The uranium mines of Niger supply a significant amount of fuel for France’s nuclear reactors. Paris has 1,500 soldiers stationed in the country, which the new Niamey government wants to remove. Another 1,000 have been declared unwanted in the United States. They were sent to confront a range of terrorist and rebel groups that emerged in the Sahel following NATO’s 2011 “regime change” mission in Libya.

In recent years, Mali and Burkina Faso’s military regimes have ordered all Western forces to depart, instead turning to the Russian Wagner Group for security services.