The Junta in Niger asked for Help from "Wagner", France supports an African Military Intervention

World | August 6, 2023, Sunday // 08:22|  views

The military that overthrew the legal authority in Niger has requested help from the Russian private military company "Wagner" on the eve of an expected West African military intervention to restore constitutional order, writes "Associated Press".

The information appears at a time when the ultimatum set by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore power to the ousted Nigerian president, Mohamed Bazoum, expires. ECOWAS announced yesterday that the plan for the intervention was ready, although an obstacle to its implementation appeared during the course of the day.

The information of the "Associated Press", after a conversation with a journalist and researcher from the Soufan Center, rests on the statements of three Malian sources and a French diplomat, according to whom the military gen. who visited Mali yesterday. Salifu Modi - one of the most important figures after the coup - has established contact with a Wagner representative in Bamako. The first message about the meeting came from "France 24" TV, and the "New York Times" also wrote about the risks associated with "Wagner".

The Mali junta has openly worked with Wagner, whose fighters have replaced the French military in the fight against jihadist groups, with no more success than in Paris. Two days after the ECOWAS ultimatum, the militaries of Mali and Burkina Faso, which have each staged two coups in the past three years, stood behind the junta in Niger and warned that any military intervention against Niger would be considered by them a declaration of war.

The AP also quoted Modi as saying on Niger's state television that his country would do everything it could to avoid becoming a "new Libya" - a reference to the country's destruction in a web of conflict and chaos that engulfed the country when Muammar Gaddafi was toppled. in 2011

A Western military official told The Associated Press that he had also heard information about a request for support from Wagner. It comes after an alleged statement by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared over the weekend in which he welcomed the coup. In addition to Mali, Wagner is active in a number of African countries, from Burkina Faso, Libya and Sudan to the Central African Republic and Mozambique. So far, channels associated with "Wagner" on "Telegram" such as Gray Zone do not comment on the topic.

Yesterday Bazoum warned the Washington Post about the risks of Africa falling into the hands of Russia and Wagner if the international community does not intervene.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said during a meeting with Niger's Prime Minister in Paris that the country strongly supports ECOWAS' efforts to "defeat this attempted coup". This comes a day after the junta announced it was terminating a military cooperation agreement with Paris and asked the French military to leave, a decision France does not recognize as it considers the junta illegitimate.

"France 24" clarifies that it is not clear from Colonna's comments whether France is ready to provide support with soldiers on the ground; there are over 1,000 French troops in Niger, which Paris has no plans to withdraw at the moment.

The fate of Niger and the stability of the entire region are at stake,” said Catherine Colonna, Foreign Minister of France.

Niger's neighbors such as Algeria have warned that they are against any military intervention and are calling for dialogue. In front of the Algerian media, PresidentAbdelmadjid Tebboune explained that his country fully defends the constitution, but also wants a peaceful solution. Another neighboring country, Chad, has distanced itself through the words of its foreign minister from any possible intervention. Neither Algeria nor Chad are members of ECOWAS.

This position is also shared by part of the political elite in Nigeria, the leading power in ECOWAS. There, a local publication wrote that the senate has so far rejected President Bola Tinubu's request to authorize military intervention. Instead, lawmakers urged him to "continue to promote dialogue." This position is important as Nigeria, the country with the largest army in ECOWAS, the largest population and economic weight, is currently the rotating chairman.

According to an adviser to the ousted Bazoum, however, military intervention is still very likely today. Al Arabiya TV quoted him in an interview with Sputnik in which he explained: "The last warning is today, Saturday."

In an analysis, the Hudson Institute notes another danger: the formation of a popular militia, after the junta has already urged the population to be on the lookout for spies, and self-organized defense groups are mobilizing to guard the capital. Such a militia will make it difficult for ECOWAS, the institute believes.

According to Al Jazeera, the coup mastermind announced changes to the army leadership, appointing a new chief of staff and a new deputy and did the same with the ground forces.

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Tags: France, Niger, wagner, Bazoum


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