17 September 2023
The French government seems to be cornered in Niger. It persists in considering the junta that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum as illegitimate, even though the United States has already concluded an agreement with it at France’s expense.
The Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Straussian Victoria Nuland, met for lunch with Junta member General Moussa Salaou Barmoua, who attended the National Defense University near Washington .
The Biden administration is committed to preventing an invasion of Niger by ECOWAS troops instigated by France, in exchange for sidestepping Russia and maintaining the two US military drone bases on its soil. It is a pragmatic arrangement which allows Washington to do away with its French vassal in Africa, even though it is preparing a jihadist attack on Niger in the medium term and knows that Niamey will turn against it in the long term.
Betrayed by his US overlord, French President Emmanuel Macron has no other alternative than to bemoan the fate of his ambassador in Niamey. “In Niger, as I speak to you, we have an ambassador and diplomatic staff who are literally taken hostage at the French embassy (…) Food deliveries are withheld. He is surviving on military rations (…) [He] can no longer leave the premises; he is persona non grata, and is not allowed to eat (…) I will abide by the agreement we will work out with President Bazoum, because he is the legitimate authority, and I speak to him every day.”
From Niger’s point of view, the agreement with the United States is only a way of buying time. In the years to come, Washington is expected to unleash a regional war in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. Victoria Nuland has been preparing it for more than a year, i.e. since the start of the war in Ukraine . Niger will then be forced to reach out to Russia and kick out the US bases. It is therefore simply a matter of not taking on all its enemies at the same time: as a first step, surmount the ECOWAS stage and shake off French imperialism , and finally break with US imperialism.