French Invasion of Niger Could Turn into All-Out Franco-African War

Yves here. I am road testing the site InfoBrics with readers via this post on Niger. It has been sending me candidates for republication for a while. The site is up front about its editorial stance, not unlike some other sites from which publish content, such as openDemocracy and Common Dreams. I have found their articles too often to be a tad over-written, as in expressing opinion a bit too vividly, particularly when criticizing Collective West types. Not that the criticisms are not well-founded, but the painting in overly bright colors can undercut the message.

Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

By Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst. Originally published at InfoBrics

If Paris doesn’t intervene, the uprising in Niger could lead to a complete collapse of the neocolonial system it left in place in the 1960s. The dilemma inevitably results in a geopolitical catch-22, as leaving things as they are could also encourage others to revolt against Western neocolonialism elsewhere in Africa and possibly beyond.

Ever since the Nigerien military under the command of General Abdourahamane Tchiani took power on July 26, there has been an exponential increase in tensions between Niamey and its former colonial masters in Paris. This has gone to the point where France is now seriously considering invading the West African country. The exploitation of “former” French colonies has continued unabated for over half a century even after they were granted a semblance of independence and Paris has been the main beneficiary of this one-sided relationship. Combined with France’s inability to deal with various terrorist insurgencies in the region, this unadulterated neocolonial theft has been the primary reason behind a series of popular uprisings in the Sahel.

Paris is now faced with a strategic dilemma. If it lets Niger continue its path toward actual independence, France will be unable to continue exploiting the country’s natural resources. Namely, several of its former colonies have served as a source of massive wealth extraction and given the recent troubles Paris is facing, these resources might be more important than ever. On the other hand, recent geopolitical changes in the area have left France largely impuissant. After the defeat of its nearly decade-long intervention in Chad last year, Paris has been left with bases in Ivory Coast, Senegal and Gabon. Neither of these can be used effectively as a staging ground for an invasion due to the limited number of troops stationed there.

However, even if France was to somehow find enough soldiers to launch the invasion, none of the three countries border Niger. Gabon is the least logical option, as Cameroon and Nigeria stand between it and Niger, leaving only bases in Senegal and Ivory Coast as viable possibilities. And yet, this is where the issues of basic geography for Paris stop and actual geopolitical ones start. Namely, in order to effectively use its forces from both countries to reach Niger, France needs to go through Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which have already stated that any military action against Niamey will be tantamount to aggression against them. In other words, if France wants to attack Niger, it will also need to attack two more African countries.

A possible alternative for Paris could be the use of its neocolonial influence in the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States, also known as CEDEAO in French and Portuguese). However, this leaves its members at risk of more anti-Western uprisings, as the belligerent power pole is deeply unpopular in the area. Some members of the ECOWAS, such as Nigeria, might be the best geographical option, but given the fact that Paris has little to no influence in Abuja, this is extremely unlikely. Not to mention the fact that Nigeria has more than enough problems of its own and the last thing it needs is to serve as the staging ground for a neocolonial invasion. Logically, this leaves Chad as the only option, but this too is a very long shot.

To make matters worse for France, Algeria has joined the chorus of Niger’s allies. The French archrival that spearheaded the independence of many of its “former” colonies in the 1960s is effectively an African superpower, heavily armed and highly motivated to never allow Paris or any other Western (neo)colonial power to establish a firm foothold in the region. This still leaves Chad as the only viable option for an invasion, as the country was an instrumental staging ground for virtually all French military operations in the area, including the illegal invasion of Libya. However, reaching Chad at this point is easier said than done and this still leaves most of the geopolitical issues unresolved. Also, all geographical considerations remain.

Namely, the Nigerien capital of Niamey is located in the southwestern corner of the country, close to the border with Burkina Faso. Thus, even in the unlikely case that none of its neighbors intervene, Niger is still left with a comfortable window of opportunity to resist the invasion. This could end in a disaster for France, as yet another military defeat in the area would inevitably lead to a complete collapse of the neocolonial system it left in place in the 1960s. On the other hand, if Paris doesn’t intervene, this will happen anyway, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. Either way, the dilemma inevitably results in a geopolitical catch-22, as leaving things as they are could also encourage others to revolt against Western neocolonialism elsewhere in Africa and possibly beyond.

As for France’s NATO allies, they’ve been largely quiet and non-militant, including the United States (a rather uncommon feature in their usually belligerent foreign policy). Washington DC has a military base in the central part of the country, the Niger Air Base 201, run by US AFRICOM (African Command), but its operational capabilities are mostly limited to drone strikes, with the troops deployed there largely composed of a skeleton crew that provides basic security. Coupled with the recent cooling of US-French relations, this makes it highly unlikely that the Pentagon would give the go-ahead for any sort of American involvement in a possible French invasion, even though it’s in Washington DC’s interest to keep Western neocolonialism in Africa alive for as long as possible.

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  1. SocalJimObjects

    “Combined with France’s inability to deal with various terrorist insurgencies in the region”, so what will France do if a Nigerian “terrorist” were to make it to Paris and sets off a bomb in the event of an invasion? I am guessing we will at a minimum witness a repeat of last month’s riot.

    1. charly

      It is clearing what you mean but is Nigerian not someone from Nigeria. I don’t know what a person from Niger is called either.

  2. The Rev Kev

    The logistics don’t work for France. Yes, they might be able to launch an attack but what then? Certainly they cannot mount an invasion force and such a force would be impossible to sustain as in at all. The distances are too great and maybe France has run down its military giving too much away to the Ukraine. They may try to rope in the US but if the US does not even want to lead yet another invasion force into Haiti, how can they be expected to lead one into Niger? To do so would possibly endanger their own Africom bases scattered around Africa itself as other nations might choose to terminate their agreements. Trying to have other African nations attack Niger is not plausible either as it might cause their citizens to rebel as mentioned here. If it turns Niger into a failed State, then you can forget any shipments of gold and uranium at all. Funny thing this. There has been, oh I don’t know, about a dozen coups in the past decade or so, mostly led by officers trained by the US. So why is this coup stressing so many west African nations? Looks like this whole situation is going to have to be handled by those African nations though I am sure that some of them are being goaded on by countries like France. Having all those economic resources in the ‘jungle’ sure does prove inconvenient at times.

    1. KD

      The US and France are “allies” which is not the same thing a friends. France has a stake in maintaining the French Neocolonialist project in Africa. America does not. Further, a weaker France is a more pliable France from the standpoint of their ally. Its hard to see any reason why the US would lift a finger, especially if Niger leaves US bases/US troops alone.

      1. Phenix

        even though it’s in Washington DC’s interest to keep Western neocolonialism in Africa alive for as long as possible.

        I was wondering if someone would question why America would want to encourage or keep around France’s neocolonial holdings.

        France is the most likely European country to dominate Europe once America influence recedes globally.

        There is no reason for the US to help any mid level power. America does not rely on international trade. It’s security arrangements underpin international trade but it is the least integrated into the international economic system.

        Any chance for US pullback is good for America but bad for it’s empire.

        1. some guy

          After several decades of carefully engineered mass factorycide and mass jobicide and mass-industrycide all over America, such that America would run out of whole classes of things if China suddenly decided to stop sending those things here; my purely layman’s opinion is that America is very deeply integrated into the international economic system. Not in a good way.
          Not in a way that any of the mass-jobicided Americans would have chosen. But very deeply integrated all the same.

      2. alfred venison

        A weaker France in West Africa risks a stronger Wagner in West Africa. Does the US want to risk a stronger Wagner in West Africa for the sake sticking it to France ?

  3. Aurelien

    Oh dear. Two points are worth making immediately. First, although you wouldn’t guess it from the article, what happened was a military coup against an elected government, which has been condemned by the African Union, ECOWAS and a host of others. Over the last generation, African leaders and institutions have been trying to live down the Continent’s previous reputation for coups and military governments, and this was going well on the whole. However, the weakness of governments in the Sahel region have been exposed over the last decade or so by the depredations of the Islamic State and others, and militaries in several of the states have taken power as a result.

    Second, I have seen no suggestion, anywhere, that the French are going to “invade” Niger, or even what purpose would be served by them doing so, even if they had the capability, which they don’t, and which makes the speculation that follows rather pointless. They have been arranging the evacuation of foreign citizens.

    The history of French involvement with its former colonies since 1960 is highly complex, and the author (about whom I can find nothing on line) might want to familiarise himself with some of the extensive literature on the subject before writing anything else.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Over the last generation, African leaders and institutions have been trying to live down the Continent’s previous reputation for coups and military governments, and this was going well on the whole.’

      Going to have to put that thought into context here. A five second Google search brought up a few interesting articles and here is just one-

      I’m afraid to admit that Elon Musk had it right when he said ‘We’ll coup whoever we want.’ And even we in Oz had our own coup back in the 70s. Organizing coups is a cheap way for more powerful countries to exert control over weaker ones though these days we call it ‘regime change’ instead.

    2. pjay

      “…what happened was a military coup against an elected government, which has been condemned by the African Union, ECOWAS and a host of others.”

      I think by now we all know how comprador “democracy” works in Africa, and what organizations like ECOWAS represent. As you say, there is a pretty extensive literature on the subject. Here is another view for context:

      Prashad is also biased, of course, from the other direction. And the situation in the Sahel is certainly complex and its coups problematic. But please don’t insult us with this rosy “things were going well until…” caricature, or with the argument that the West was just an innocent bystander uninvolved with these internal affairs.

      1. barefoot charley

        Thanks for this additional perspective. I happened to hear an NPR correspondent, an academic from Brown, explain that West Africans still remember colonialism, and are very angry about it after all this time. That’s as close as she got to present neo-colonial reality, which I suppose is invisible to the tenure-tracked.

      2. ks

        Yes, there are coups and there are coups. Reading Thomas Sankara’s Wikipedia page makes it clear why Nigerien protestors were wearing T-shirts bearing the former Burkina Faso leader’s name. After his assassination “Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalizations, overturned nearly all of Sankara’s policies, rejoined the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to bring in ‘desperately needed’ funds to restore the ‘shattered’ economy and ultimately spurned most of Sankara’s legacy. Compaoré’s dictatorship remained in power for 27 years until it was overthrown by popular protests in 2014.”

        Sankara’s widow accused France of masterminding the unpopular coup that overthrew Sankara’s popular coup.

    3. vao

      even if they had the capability, which they don’t

      Indeed. During its operations in Mali, France had to rely upon logistical support from its allies (notably Germany, UK, and other EU countries). In particular, France was constrained by its limited fleet of refuelling airplanes to bring in enough aircraft to Mali, and had to press its allies to mobilize such refuelling airplanes.

      It also had to rely upon the satellite and drone capabilities of the USA to monitor the country (I have seen reports that 50% of drone and satellite intelligence in Mali was provided by the USA).

      These weaknesses of the French forces were highlighted in a report of the French parliament, which in addition pointed out that a substantial fraction of the equipment proved to be too old or inadequate (e.g. one model of helicopter was insufficiently protected, while another one lacked enough flying autonomy).

      And that was 10 years ago. I doubt that the situation has improved.

      the weakness of governments in the Sahel region have been exposed over the last decade or so by the depredations of the Islamic State and others

      Let us not forget that France was the driving force behind the overthrow of Gaddafi, and did nothing to re-establish peace afterwards. This resulted in a widespread destabilization of the region (first and foremost in Mali), as a variety of ideological, separatist, and criminal organizations in the Sahel armed themselves to the teeth thanks to the dissolution of the former Jamahiriya’s arsenals. The various governments of the region have not forgotten who thoroughly mucked up the political situation there, first by lightning a blazing fire, then by proving incapable or unwilling to extinguish it.

      Those African governments cannot be absolved from their own ineptitude and corruption, but, hey, in such circumstances, smashing things carelessly is bound to make matters worse.

      1. Jokerstein

        Describing the PMC, Aurelien quoted Scott Fitzgerald in his substack newsletter yesterday:

        They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

        Applies to France, UK, US, and most ex-colonial powers.

    4. Darthbobber

      Senegal, frequent poster nation for west African democracy, and one of those volunteering to participate in military action to restore “democracy” in Niger, has just arrested the leader of the largest opposition group, banned his party, and shut down the internet in an effort to stop the protests.

    5. square coats

      Not so much France invading Niger, I’ve seen people speculating about France trying to somehow get various countries in Africa to do the dirty work for it. And the reason for this that seems most salient is Niger refusing to continue selling uranium to France.

      I think what’s more likely is the new govt of Niger forcing a renegotiation of the terms of sale of uranium (I don’t know how they would do this of course) that is much more favorable to the people of Niger than at present.

      So then it would be a matter of how badly would the French govt or business interests want to keep the terms the same and what would they try to do, and of course what actually can they do.


      Also I have seen various countries/groups condemning the coup, but also I see some people making arguments that not all coups are equal. I think it’s certainly possible that the current norm of trying to move beyond coups might be nuanced, depending on what the coup govt does and whether they show themselves to be acting in the interest of the people or not.

    6. ChrisPacific

      Second, I have seen no suggestion, anywhere, that the French are going to “invade” Niger, or even what purpose would be served by them doing so, even if they had the capability, which they don’t, and which makes the speculation that follows rather pointless. They have been arranging the evacuation of foreign citizens.

      That jumped out at me as well. There is sourcing for some of the assertions in the story but that one is just thrown out there without backup of any kind. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (or at least some evidence). The whole article is written in the same highly opinionated style, mixing facts and observable news with big unsupported claims. I think of this as the Asia Times school of journalism.

      Also the InfoBrics site has an invalid certificate and triggers a security warning when I try to visit. While probably harmless, this does constitute a security risk (it’s one of the layers of protection that prevents man in the middle attacks and phishing). I would not be linking to it until that’s fixed.

    7. Stierlitz

      Aurelien seems to have missed the numerous suggestions in the press that France could mount a military intervention in Niger to restore the “democratic” President Bazoum. To be frank, the French have soaked Africa for decades via the CFA franc and I can understand that Paris under the arch-capitalist Macron would be very unhappy about losing access to 19% of the country’s uranium imports from a hostile junta in Niamey (who seem quite popular) The current numb-skulls in the French government seem oblivious to the French saying “passer la facture” which is exactly what is happening in the old French empire.

  4. Aurelien

    Rolling Stone was not one of the sources that came most immediately to mind.
    The liberal/neoliberal dispensation that dominates the way that most of the world’s aid and cooperation programmes work takes its inspiration directly from the traditional Liberal dislike of the military, and the fear of military influence in politics that comes out of the US civil-military relations literature of the 1950s and 1960s (Truman/MacArthur/Korea etc). This has led to immense pressure from donors not only to “get the military out of politics” but to try to inculcate western ideas of civil-military relations in Africa (and elsewhere) by teaching, financing NGOs, setting up institutions and seconding personnel. I’ve been involved in some of this and, for what it’s worth I think it’s misguided and largely a waste of time, because the reasons for military coups have very little to do with fashionable civil-military relations theory. They are usually a mix of personal ambition (as here) and the weakness of the state apparatus: often, the Army is the only relatively organised political actor and control of the Army, or by the Army, is the easiest way to access rents from natural resources. In some cases, the Army justifies its involvement by instrumentalising popular anger against corrupt local politicians. These recent coups are only “anti-western ” in the sense that stirring up anger against the West is a tried and trusted method of mobilising popular support, as well as, for the leaders, a way of diverting attention from their own failures and their inability to protect their population. (“France” has historically served the same purpose in the political discourse of the region as “Russia” does today in the West.) Governments in the region feel humiliated by their dependence on foreign militaries, even as they demand that they be deployed in the first place, as with Mali.

    It’s probably time to dispose of this “trained in the US” business. All of the world’s major military powers, including the Russians and the Chinese, invite foreign students to their training institutions, notably to Staff Colleges, where they mix with domestic students and other internationals. In major states, anything from a quarter to a half of the students body is made up of foreigners. In turn, large numbers of students from major military powers go to other countries for training. They also send teams out to carry out more detailed training, sometimes on technical issues, sometimes (and the US and the UK have a particular record here), on more theoretical issues like “the place of the military in a democracy.” I’ve been involved from both ends. African officers are trained everywhere around the world, partly because their own facilities are not great, partly because African governments want to expose their militaries to outside influences, and partly because outside states themselves compete for influence through such training, as they have been doing for decades. As well as the US, France and the UK, African officers are trained extensively in places such as Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden and many others, as well as in non-western countries like India Pakistan and Algeria.

    Whilst there are pragmatic justifications for such training, and whilst it’s useful for African militaries to be exposed to different political systems than their own, the political objective – a military that respects the democratic process- etc. is much more problematic, and I’ve always been of the view that lecturing people can’t make them behave as you want. These people return to their own countries, with their own dynamics, poorly paid, expected to survive through predation, and have no option but to revert to type if they are to survive.

    The idea of the US teaching Africans to stage military coups is laughable: the influence is more likely to be the other way round.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Look, I have a deep respect for your opinions and have just finished reading your excellent essay “Reality Would Like A Word” but I am really going to have to disagree with that last sentence. So what was the School of the Americas all about? A problem here is that our western militaries train soldiers in countries in our own image with our own doctrine. And we see how well that worked out for the Ukrainians. And in Afghanistan. And in Iraq. Certainly it would be a bad fit for Africa, especially where the institution of the army is one of the few stable organizations in some African countries. And recently I have read that a number of African nations are now much more powerful than some major NATO nations so the times they are a changing. The concern for me is that this whole region could go south if some really bad decisions were made. And with people like Macron, Biden and Sunak in charge, the odds of stupid decisions being made is really high right now.

      1. Adams

        After reading an interesting post, I was also struck by that last sentence. School of the Americas has been relocated, but the concept remains. The list of countries is very long, with many recent examples, of those whose elected govs have been subverted or outright overthrown by the nexus of internal US trained military, CIA covert/overt political destabilizing, State Dept. encouragement and promise of post-coup support (frequently not delivered if the “right people” do not take power), economic sanctions and deliberate market manipulations (especially in raw materials), and sometimes US military direct “training” missions.

        “… (T)he influence is more likely to be the other way around….” I cannot guess what this means.

      2. Keith Newman

        @The Rev Kev,August 3, 2023 at 9:19 am and Adams
        I agree with the Rev and Adams. I share the respect noted for Aurelien’s analysis on many topics but this last sentence is completely wrong. It is a denial of recent neo-colonial history that is well documented.
        For example, as per William Blum*:
        “Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
        Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected; dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries; attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders; attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries; grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.”

    2. Thuto

      “These recent coups are only “anti-western ” in the sense that stirring up anger against the West is a tried and trusted method of mobilising popular support, as well as, for the leaders, a way of diverting attention from their own failures and their inability to protect their population. (“France” has historically served the same purpose in the political discourse of the region as “Russia” does today in the West.)”

      Russia has no actual history of political involvement in the west that I’m aware of that marks it out as a deserving recipient of the reputation it has in western political discourse (which requires a bogeyman to, amongst other things, justify that 2% of GDP in Nato countries largess that the politicians want flowing uninterrupted to the MIC). On the other hand, the history of western involvement in Africa makes whipping flag burning anti-imperialists on the continent into a lather by invoking anti-western rhetoric a tried and tested method precisely because said history makes it so, and reams of historical (and current) data on western subversion can be readily pulled to fan the flames of anti-western populism in Africa (while western politicians and their msm water carriers rely on screaming “Russia Russia Russia” ad nauseum to stir up anger against “Putin’s Russia” without ever actually backing up any of their claims with factual data) so I don’t think that equivalence stacks up.

    3. Arkady Bogdanov

      Firstly, I think it is pretty undeniable that the US has trained coup leaders and influenced/encouraged their actions- It’s silly to deny this. That said, I do not think this is the case here, given the US’ denouncements and the coup government’s overtures to neighbors who have overtly allied themselves with the Russian Federation. Secondly, I do not think we can default to “personal ambitions” being the default driver in Niger, or any of the other nations in which this has recently occurred. That may be the case, but I have yet to see the evidence. If such evidence surfaces, I will accept it.
      To me, it is entirely possible that the people behind these coups simply saw a problem that needed to be rectified by force (how else do you remove comprador leadership class that has absolute control over the media and political process?), and that they were the coup leaders by default, simply because they recognized the problem, and had control of the only applicable solution. Personally, I am in wait and see mode regarding how they act within their own nations, while also understanding that *literally anything* that weakens the empire is a net positive for the rest of the global population.

    4. Bill Malcolm

      This article’s topic is also being discussed on Larry Johnson’s website today. I find the observations of one commenter there, who quite obviously knows what he’s on about, far more revealing and insightful than Aurelien’s or this post’s InfoBrics author. The commenter’s name is Femi Akomolafe, and he makes several comments. both original and in response to others’. Easy enough to use the “Find on this page” function in your web browser to find them all.

      To me, Aurelien starts in the middle of the historical situation, the history of “modern” Africa that is, relaying his knowledge of what the West does in training Africans in their facilities, from the basis of established “countries”. These “countries” or territories were set up in the late 19th century at the Berlin Conference, when the African continent was divvied up by European countries. Nobody invited any Africans to the Conference — the natives or their ideas were irrelevant to the Europeans, and besides they were foreigners, savages who spoke incomprehensible languages. /s Who gave a damn about them in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels? Precisely no one. *

      Arbitrary lines were drawn on a map, agreed to, and Voila!, colonial “countries” appeared. The existing regional tribal nations and their traditional territories were disregarded completely, split on a whim by a pen line on a map by European dorks. That’s what Femi Akomolafe writes about. In fact, likely almost no European even knew nor cared civilizations there existed in the first place. Even today, what I classify as dumb people think Africa is one country, not a continent.

      60 to 100 years later, when these arbitrarily set-up countries were gradually de-colonised, as it were, by their European masters, the fake borders remained. So sure, Eurocrats, presumably like Aurelien, sent African country “leaders” for training in various “civilized” countries and the US etc etc., all based on their coming from a certain one of these arbitrarily set-up countries.

      Since I was born just post WW2, I’ve only known African countries by these names (or name changes but not border changes). One’s mind becomes stultified by existing convention and the brain thinks only in terms of the familiar. I was not born with a knowledge of history, nor was anyone else — we were taught both it and the way things are now, whenever now was for each individual. So I gradually learned that Africans of varying tribes and cultures were literally rammed together or split apart into artificial constructs of countries in the 1880s by those intellectual giants in Europe. And administered and exploited within those arbitrary constructs by whatever European country had nabbed a given one at the Berlin Conference, or by later changes due to Western wars.

      To then say, rather offensively in my view, after more than a century, that Africans are more than capable of their own coups with no outside help, that grasping greedy people there are the responsible ones, and hey, the militaries are the only semi-organized units in destitute countries, so, of course, its generals are the one’s seizing power because only they can organize followers, is to forget the entire past 150 years of history. And to blame the people who were subjected to enforced ripoff resource looting colonialism for their own troubles now, today, I personally find that a nauseating point of view, frankly. But that is the implication I gather from Aurelien’s comments.

      How would Africa have developed if it hadn’t been carved up higgledy-piggledy like a juicy Sunday roast for its resources? Resources shipped out for the mere taking of them under threat and worse, dug up by virtual slave labour of the local inhabitants, to add insult to injury. Would the majority of the continent even have wanted to develop? There were empires there, they had their own politics, but were no match for the white man and his gun and missionaries seeking to “save” souls for Jesus or the Pope. Upon being sort of, kind of decolonized gradually after WW2, did the white man pay reasonable royalties for African resources from former colonies? Enough to run viable countries? Guess. So let’s blame Africans for their own coups while foreign companies, still plunder resources for peanuts and treat the locals like dirt.

      Blaming Africans for their own misfortunes within their own arbitrary “country” confines is to ignore the evil of the colonization that took place. I’m having none of it. People need to give their heads a good shake and look back at the root of what has transpired since the enlightened white man took over “deepest darkest Africa” for nothing but their own greed and gain.

      *(And recall, Abyssinia was for some reason left almost alone, until Mussolini decided in 1935, dear old Italy needed a colony in Africa too — Italy had been left out of the game 47 years earlier)

      1. Keith Newman

        @Bill Malcolm, August 3, 2023 at 1:14 pm
        Hear, hear!
        To add to your point, let us not forget Patrice Lumumba of The Congo, democratically elected but quickly overthrown by the Belgian government, assisted by the CIA, because he was a popular nationalist who wanted his country to benefit from its natural resource riches at the expense of the West.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Can’t disagree…except to one very important point.

        We can deride colonialism/neocolialism together til the cows come home.

        That doesn’t forgive/forget that African “strongmen” who have taken control of various African “countries” * haven’t exactly taken care of their “citizens”. Post WWII African history is rife with corruption, genocide and violence, no?

        Most of it fueled by greed abetted by exploitive Western govs/corporations. But I’ve yet to hear of an African leader who’s solved the development/resources/exploitation/military aid/provide for the population/improve the infrastructure/country equation. Mostly I know of Saddam-esque “leaders” who take care of their supporters and keep the rest under thumb.

        Long way around of saying….There ain’t no heroes in this kind of unrest/political struggle.

        1. NoFreeWill

          Sankara and Lumumba if they weren’t assassinated might have been such leaders. In Ghana, despite his later failings, they have at least a nice dam to thank Kwame Nkrumah for, and despite it having it’s own counter-coup resulting in military dictatorship, the general stability of the country since Nkrumah is a testament to his good leadership. I don’t know enough about other countries but Gaddafi certainly vastly improved Libya, maybe moreso than any other african leader promoting panafricanism (through african currency project, etc.) and what happened to him? When all the good leaders get murdered it’s not surprising the bad ones have power…

    5. Bugs

      While I greatly respect your ability to string prose together to form compelling arguments for a certain center-left realism, and your apparent diligent travails as a diplomat and civil servant, your written work is betrayed by a tic supporting a (very French) Eurocentric position. This usually comes in the form of a paragraph or two in the middle of an otherwise commendable essay, dismissing minority interests or implicating immigrants as the source of their own problems.

      Perhaps it is you who needs to read more writers of Africa and the Global South and especially to try to understand that white Europeans need to back the heck off.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Just be careful not to ascribe to African “leaders’ virtues they may not have.

        Avarice knows no racial boundaries.

    6. Kouros

      The main issue here is how those colonels are trying to use the “rents”. It is obviously that western leaning politicians in the area are taking their little cut and the bulk of the benefits goes to the western companies and their countries.

      If these “usurpers” want to do something like Gaddafi, or Mossadegh, or Saddam, or Putin, retaining most of the benefits of the natural resources in the country and for the population, then kudos to them.

      Why only Canada and Australia can benefit their population from the natural resources rent?? And of course these countries are no strangers to corruption and political capture, but still, they are not treated as Niger, are they?

  5. Chris a

    How many coups are led by trainees from China and Russia. Go back a 80 years and compare that to the west.

  6. James

    Yves – I found the article interesting and I would like to hear more from InfoBrics … especially if republished by you. I get a great deal of value from the short intros that you write in which you highlight the most salient points of pieces that you republish and warn your readers about any slants the writers might have. Your intros make all the difference … and the high quality NC comments of course.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Absolutely seconded.
      While the article itself may have its weaknesses, the robust discussion of your commentariat is where this site excels.

      The article sparked that, from knowledgible personages to those of us just armed with curiosity and human observational skills.

  7. spud

    its not colonialism, its free trade, hitler had it figured out. the term colonialism simply muddies the water for the free traders to still look legitimate in the eyes of the world.

    Globalization led Hitler to the American dream: hitler clearly was enamored by globalization and free trade, he based Mein Kampf on it, he also based the E.U. free trade zone on on it

    1. digi_owl

      Free trade is just covert colonialism. Rather than having some British or French or whatever governor managing things, locals, being trained in the imperial ways, secure property “rights” for imperial companies.

      And heck, that is how colonialism started, with the likes of the East India Company getting itself property out east. But in the end it could not rely on locals for security, thus creating a massive private army. And yet after all that it could not stay solvent, and had to be nationalized. Thus its holdings became property of Britain.

      And that is not far off from what Butler complained about when the called war a racket, as his time in the USMC mostly involved enforcing the foreign property “rights” of United Fruits etc.

      Effectively we have come right back to another version of the great game.

  8. Synoia

    Is the C FA franc sstill the currency in these Colonies of France?

    After the Africa am French colonies were “liberated” it ws a The CFA frank was administered by France, and basically was used to control the so called “free” ex French African Colonies.

    1. Arron

      Yes, several countries in West Africa use the CFA franc which allows France to exert control over it’s former colonies. There is a good book on the subject ‘Africas’s Last Colonial Currency, The CFA Franc Story’ by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla.

  9. dandyandy

    Am I the only person here to find it somewhat interesting that a lot of photos from the recent Russian-African summit show the new Niger leader Thani, in the limelight, right next to Putin. Like below.

    And also that a lot of African leadership rhetoric has escalated against their old colonial masters, right after the summit.

    As for France, I am on holiday here, watching their TF1 news more or less daily. The last few days the Niger issue is getting same amount of airtime as the detailed analysis of drone attacks on Moscow. Why bother the population with the loss of yet another involuntary donor to their lifestyles when rubbishing Russians gets more clicks.

    1. Thuto

      That man in military garb is Ibrahim Traore of Burkina Faso, not General Tiani of Niger. Interesting that your link comes from Daily Maverick, a rabidly anti-Russian propaganda outfit here in South Africa that fancies itself a heavy hitter but in reality few outside its legion of echo chamber dwellers take seriously. I hope you didn’t find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of its “comments section” where the nostalgia for the “good old days of South Africa” is often palpable.

      1. MFB

        Thanks for this comment, Thuto. But the Maverick — which was founded by a Serbian immigrant who mysteriously turned up with a truckload of cash with which to buy a ream of apartheid-era journalists — is more rabidly pro-American and pro-plutocratic neoliberalism than it is anti-Russian.

  10. Glenda

    Aurelien’s last sentence has brought to my mind a thought experiment.
    What would a military coup in the US be like? What could prompt one?
    Many questions would develop from this one question.

    Thanks, Bill Malcolm, for introducing an important perspective to the conversation.

    Yves, thank you, for your wonderful site and topics. And the amazingly brilliant commenters.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I hope Yves understands how invaluable her thought-provoking articles are for those us still trying to understand the world’s governments…

      And yeah, the best commentariat….Yves’ single greatest achievement is to attract brilliant people to suppliment her own brillant biting insight.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Sorry, Yves!
        Didn’t mean to speak of you in the 3rd person as if you’re not there!
        No offense intended…

  11. Victor Moses

    The analysis is off. As has been pointed out, France has neither the capability or so far any willingness to mount an operation to restore the President. Furthermore – any such action would alienate the few remaining friends it has in West Africa. And the AU would raise holy hell. It would have been more useful to get a sense of what coup leaders plan to do with the halted uranium sales, do they have any alternative buyers for it other than France, how will they fund the few government services now that all sources of revenue have been cut off etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if some deal to restore the President happened in the next few weeks. This bunch strikes me as not so much as wanting to be in charge as in getting a larger piece of the pie. If this is the case – it also goes on to explain why key western powers have been fairly muted in their reaction thus far.

    1. MFB

      You may be right about the coup leaders, although judging by the fact that they are mainly the people in charge of the military already, they were surely in a position to grab most of the pie anyway. Trouble is, the general public is very, very angry with the behaviour of the former colonial and current neocolonial powers in the region, and if the coup leaders want to hold on to power they will have to appeal to the public.

      Incidentally, the AU is a colonial poodle. A dead, smelly colonial poodle.

  12. Paradan

    You guys gotta admit, it’d be pretty bad ass if Macron got up in front of the Pope and Stolenberg and took the cross…

  13. Olivier

    France invading Niger is about as likely as, say, Russia invading Norway. There are people who fantasize about both but it’s no going to happen, for the reasons discussed above. Thus I am puzzled as to why the InfoBrics article needed writing at all.

  14. KFritz

    Today, Nigeria’s president sought legislative support for an ECOWAS military intervention in Niger. According to Wikipedia’s article on the subject, all of the suspended members of ECOWAS are former French colonies. Evidently opposition to the coup in Niger is not strictly a French vs former Colonials issue. I would guess, repeat guess, that the consensus among the NC community would explain this as a Neoliberal vs non-Neoliberal conflict. I’d appreciate input from anyone with expertise. Sorry to be so late with this comment.

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