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Coup against French imperialism, which takes advantage of plunder of Nigerian resources

By Harsh Thakor 

The sporadic coup in Nigeria has shaken the earth, sending shivers down the spine of imperialist countries, particularly France. It has shaped further polarisation of inter-imperialist contradictions, with intervention of Wagner group of Russia. A fitting result to the tyranny imposed by imperialism and outcome of preceding events in history.
The Nigerian presidential guards besieged the presidential palace and clustered around ministries in Niamey on July 26th, trapping President Mohamed Bazoum inside the palace and forcing negotiations. President Bazoum had planned to sack the presidential guards’ head in the days before the attempted coup. The presidential guards first lacked broader support. However, the coupists acted most tactfully, especially in galvanising the anti-France feeling of the broad masses of the Nigerien people. Hence, Niger’s army high command rallied in support for the coup carried out the previous day, saying its objective was to stabilize the country.
The coup is a part of the wider imperialist confrontation of the Western powers (USA, NATO, and EU) with Russia and China. This time, the imperialist standoff is focused on the resource-rich region of Sahel, activating the decades-old political divisions in West Africa.

Background

Niger or officially the Republic of the Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is has state borders with Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Algeria. It encompasses a land area of almost 1,270,000 km², making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara. Niger is one of the poorest countries – if not the poorest – in the world. (Multidimensional Poverty Index, United Nations Development Programme and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative)
In the 1885 “Berlin conference”, in which the colonial powers demarcated the division of Africa into zones of their influence, France established control of the upper valley of the Niger River (roughly equivalent to the present territory of Mali and Niger). France then organised three expeditions which eventually met at Kousséri (in the north of Cameroon) and defeated Rabih az-Zubayr’s forces at the Battle of Kousséri. The expeditions undertook unscrupulous pillaging, looting, raping and killing local civilians. On 8 May 1899 captain Voulet and his men assassinated all the inhabitants of the village of Birni-N’Konni in what was “one of the worst massacres in French colonial history”. The Military Territory of Niger was subsequently constructed by the French within the “Upper Senegal and Niger” colony (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) in December 1904 with its capital at Niamey. On 3 August 1960, Niger officially became formally independent.
Niger’s economy is concentrated around subsistence agriculture, with some export agriculture in the less arid south, and export of raw materials, especially uranium ore, producing 7% of all global supplies and up to 40 percent of France’s. It has a very low literacy rate, some so-called jihadist insurgencies and one of the world’s highest fertility rates.
The Institute of the Study of War wrote: “A successful coup in Niger would likely further strengthen al Qaeda and the Islamic State by preoccupying Nigerien security forces and hindering international security cooperation. Niger is the last remaining Western partner in the tri-border area of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger after the coups in Burkina Faso and Mali.”

French hegemony

It is a coup against French imperialism, that takes advantage from the plunder of the Nigerien resources since decades ,with Niger being one of the world’s main uranium exporters, both civil and military, and is the main exporter to Europe, and one of the only countries where France dicates the economic sector (one third of French uranium comes from Niger). It therefore a central component of the world nuclear economy, and even more so from French nuclear power.
A new government opposed to French control , which is also supported by their Malian and Burkinabè and neighbours (who have also experienced coups in recent months based on a general fed up of the local populations towards French domination), is therefore causing tremors in the of the French exploiter, who is afraid of losing its control on uranium mines.
Since the French colonization of these territories, the Sahelian strip and the majority of the countries of the Gulf of Guinea have been powerful strongholds of French interests in Africa. Two major inter-governmental institutions patronise French interests here: the “G5 Sahel” in terms of military cooperation (Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad); and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) for economic cooperation. Therefore, today 3 members of the G5 Sahel openly reject French imperialism, including Mali, which announced its withdrawal from the organization last year. Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger are suspended from ECOWAS. The situation has acused greater shivesr down the spine for French imperialism because Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are the vast majority of the circulation area of the Franc CFA area, a colonial loophole that permits France to guarantee the monetary political dictation of the countries.
Several countries, including France, Germany and the USA, have troops installed in Niger or are planning to withdraw their troops from Mali to Niger after the failure of their operations commanded by a UN mission. Niger is today the largest recipient of US State Department military assistance in West Africa and the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa. The American Security Council Foundation lately stated: “Niger is vital to U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa. It’s one of the few countries in the region that has agreed to house U.S. drone bases and hundreds of American Special Forces and logistics experts, who are involved in counterterrorism operations against Boko Haram and ISIS affiliates.”
For several years, grip of French imperialism has been declining in Africa. The domination of French investments on the continent has fallen from 10.6% in 2002 to 4.4% in 2022, in particular with the new competition challenged by Chinese social-imperialism.
In the military field, France was depending on Niger in particular for most of the restationing of its troops after being driven out of Malian territory. Under pretext of the fight against terrorism, the former colonizer holds a strong military presence in Sahel to accumulate its resources and show the population that it is they who run the show. or command proceedings. France is not the only imperialism intervening militarily on the spot: Germany and the United States also have troops deployed in Niger.
In form, the French colonist is lethal, but in reality French imperialism has only been declining in Africa for several years, in many African countries the masses have revolted against the occupation and the looting of their territories by France. And whereas ten years ago France put the Sahel under their thumb completely, today the French forces are forced to retreat to the pressure of the oppressed peoples.

Threat of Russia, Turkey and China

The same pretext of combating terrorism is also used by other competing imperialist powers in the broader region, such as Russia, China and Turkey with objective to expand their own monopoly interests, with Russia and Turkey drawing towards the establishment of closer military relations. If the new, coup-generated government remains in Niger and the French monopolies lose access to cheap uranium, the Chinese business giants will be significantly benefited. After all, in recent years China increased its penetration in the country's economy by financing and constructing large infrastructure projects, especially in the field of Energy (oil pipeline, exploitation projects of oil and uranium deposits, modern refinery, etc).
Some informal Russian sources asserted that the coup leaders were linked with the Wagner mercenaries, alleging that Wagner supported the faction of Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, which seized control of the presidency. The Russian military blogger Boris Rozhin reported that Wagner would be granted an invitation from a “free” Niger. According to reports of the Atlantic Council, the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, himself remarked about extending penetration in Africa. “Niger will probably move to the top of the list of countries where the Wagner Group of mercenaries will seek to expand, if Mohamed Bazoum resigns from the presidency”, another Yankee-think-tank wrote. Wagner mercenaries are active in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. Some coup supporters who ransacked and set ablaze Niger’s ruling party headquarters in the capital, waved Russian flags as fumes of smoke spewed from the building. caption: “Down with France, long live Putin” reads the Poster on a demonstrations where Russian flags were waved.
The international media The Red Herald reports that: “Some informal Russian sources claimed the coup leaders were associated with the Wagner mercenaries, alleging that Wagner supported the faction of Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, which seized control of the presidency. The Russian military blogger Boris Rozhin reported that Wagner would soon receive an invitation from a ‘free’ Niger. According to reports of the Atlantic Council, the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, himself recently stated about expanding their presence in Africa. ‘Niger will probably move to the top of the list of countries where the Wagner Group of mercenaries will seek to expand, if Mohamed Bazoum resigns from the presidency’, another Yankee-think-tank wrote. Prigozhin described the developments as part of Niger’s fight against the ‘colonisers’. His comments were published at the moment when several hundred people gathered in Niamey and chanted support for Wagner while waving Russian flags. Wagner mercenaries are active in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. Some coup supporters who ransacked and set fire to Niger’s ruling party headquarters in the capital, waved Russian flags as plumes of smoke billowed from the building.”
The African Union declared an ultimamum to the coupist to reinstate the country’s previous government, just as the coup leaders met with senior civil authorities to discuss how they would run the country. The AU demanded the military to return immediately and unconditionally to their barracks and revive constitutional framework within a maximum of fifteen days. Bazoum should also be released immediately and unconditionally. Failure to do so would make it imperative for the bloc to take punitive measures against the perpetrators. The United States and the European Union also threatened sanctions against the new regime.
The head of the military coup said that the regional ECOWAS (who has now sanctioned the coupists), could stage a military intervention in the capital of the Sahel country: “The aim of this meeting is to approve a plan of aggression against Niger, in the form of an imminent military intervention in Niamey, in cooperation with African countries who are not members of the regional body and certain Western nations.” Such an intervention is only possible with a direct Yankee mandate and would mean a full-fledged war in the region.
For several years, grip of French imperialism has been declining or on the wane in Africa. The domination of French investments on the continent has fallen from 10.6% in 2002 to 4.4% in 2022, in particular with the new competition challenged by Chinese social-imperialism. In the military field, France was depending on Niger in particular for most of the restationing of its troops after being driven out of Malian territory. Under pretext of the fight against terrorism, the former colonizer holds a strong military presence in Sahel to accumulate its resources and show the population that it is they who run the show. or command proceedings. France is not the only imperialism intervening militarily on the spot: Germany and the United States also have troops deployed in Niger.
It is obvious that Russia is trying to capitalise on the loopholes of French imperialism to consolidate it’s hegemony and seize possession of Niger’s wealth, as it does in other African countries. This is a vivid illustration of the imperialist war of redivision that the imperialist powers are waging, particularly in Africa.
As animosity against France in particular and the West in general have sharpened further in West Africa, the feelings towards Russia seem to have widened. . An article in the Guardian (5 August 2023) notes that “Russian flags were brandished by those demonstrating outside the French embassy in Niamey, with many calling for Vladimir Putin to replace Macron as their biggest global backer.” Putin himself has raised his voice against the coup and expressed wishes that civilian rule would be restored.

Conclusion

In form, the French colonist is lethal, but in reality French imperialism has only been declining in Africa for several years, in many African countries the masses have revolted against the occupation and the looting of their territories by France. And whereas ten years ago France put the Sahel under their thumb completely, today the French forces are forced to retreat to the pressure of the oppressed peoples.
Revolutionaries must leave no stone unturned to combat any attempt by the French State to maintain or restore the colonial order. The current nature of the Nigerien government is irrelevant, because the bloodshed instigated by France to “reinstate democracy” would only serve the dictates of French imperialism, the latter being ready to reduce countries to rabble to defend its hegemony.
Neverthless one should not be swayed by the initiators of the coup who too are part of the ruling class background, and not a manifestation of revolutionary democracy. The involvement of Wagner mercenaries, testifies this. The peoples have nothing to gain by toeing one or other of these imperialist powers and, this requires denouncing imperialism and demanding the withdrawal of its troops.
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Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has studied liberation movements. Thanks information from Red Herald and La Cause de people

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