Lazy eyes listen
According to White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, the US will not commit to supporting or opposing a future invasion of Niger by its West African neighbors.
Kirby stated during a State Department briefing that the US wants arrested Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum released and returned to power after his pro-Western government was ousted by senior military commanders last month.
Kirby was evasive when asked whether Washington would back military action by the Nigeria-led Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reinstall Bazoum’s government.
“I’m not going to speculate about intervention one way or another from ECOWAS or anybody else,” he said. “We still believe that there’s time and space for diplomacy to get us to a resolution here which respects the will of the Nigerien people.”
Last week, ECOWAS formed a standby force after Niger’s new military administration defied an ultimatum to free Bazoum and hand over authority. Negotiations between the coup leaders and the regional group are underway, and ECOWAS officials are meeting this week in Ghana to make a final decision on military action, with a decision due on Friday.
Foreign support for an ECOWAS invasion, on the other hand, is still weak. France, Niger’s former colonial master, has promised its support for “the efforts of ECOWAS to defeat this coup attempt,” without indicating whether it favors a diplomatic, military, or both solution. According to French media, the 55-member African Union rejected to sanction military action following a meeting on Wednesday.
An ECOWAS intervention is unlikely to take place without the African Union’s endorsement, policy analysts told Le Monde on Wednesday.
France and the United States both have military stations in Niger, with approximately 1,000 American and 1,500 French personnel stationed there. The coup leaders are emphatic that the Western presence must end, and they have terminated military and trade ties with France. In reaction, Paris placed sanctions on Niamey, while Washington cut off international aid.