Ecowas Announces Intervention Force for Niger: Is there now a military intervention?

Ecowas Announces Intervention Force for Niger: Is there now a military intervention?

I don’t think Ecowas will intervene militarily in Niger. It is not clear how an intervention is supposed to succeed. Military intervention can quickly trigger a civil war.

Even if an intervention were successful and Mohamed Bazoum reinstated as president, his reputation would be ruined. Even before the coup, he had been criticized in the country for his cooperation with France. Not a single army unit has come to his aid in the last two weeks. If he were now freed by Ecowas, he would finally be regarded as dependent on foreign countries.

Europe will have to prepare itself for cooperation with the coup plotters who have occupied all the centers of power in recent days. Even the special forces equipped by the Bundeswehr and other EU armies have sided with the putschists. Europe and Ecowas should insist that the new rulers organize elections soon. Ultimately, however, the putschists currently hold all the trump cards.

Ecowas faces a difficult choice: a diplomatic deal could increase the likelihood of more coup attempts in the region. But military intervention could have catastrophic consequences for Niger itself and the Sahel. There would be a conflagration in the region. Even in the best-case scenario, an externally installed government in Niger would have to act against its own military and broad sections of the population.

More than two weeks after the coup, Ecowas is weakened. Despite the expiration of her ultimatum, no action has yet been taken on the threatened consequences. The fact that Ecowas announced the mobilization of a so-called “standby force” on Thursday can be seen as an attempt to maintain the threat. Actual mobilization would take some time and also requires a mandate from the African Union.

In the meantime, it is important to build on the first bilateral mediation progress from Togo and Nigeria. The top priority must be to obtain the release of the still de jure President Mohamed Bazoum, who is being held in increasingly poor conditions.

The deployment force envisaged by West African leaders is unlikely to be operational any time soon. However, their announcement raises the specter of war in the region.

Ecowas, currently chaired by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, wants to first try to find a diplomatic solution with the Niger junta to prevent the conflict from escalating. A war would be devastating for Niger and its neighbors. The security, humanitarian and socio-economic consequences for the region, which is already beset by many difficulties, would be dramatic.

Many would see an Ecowas intervention as being driven by France and the US. Even before the coup, Bazoum was seen by many as a weak puppet of foreign powers. If the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum were brought back to power by means of an intervention, this would not necessarily increase political stability in Niger.

The most worrying thing about the Niger crisis is that we have entered a serious and crucial phase. All the protagonists make a good face to the bad game in order not to lose face.

The junta continues its escalation, trying to show the population that this coup was aimed at restoring sovereignty to the country. Ecowas insists on threatening military intervention despite all the risks for Niger and the entire Sahel. The international partners seem more than divided, despite the seeming agreement on the goal of restoring constitutional order.

France seems to have lost all control of the situation and has even become an actor that the others are asking to behave discreetly. The US is already in the logic of the big game and perceives this crisis as one that needs to be resolved lest it lose its position in Africa.

Europe, now without its French champion, is still looking for the most appropriate means. Meanwhile, time is playing into the hands of Russia and the mercenary company Wagner. Likewise the jihadists, who currently have to rub their hands.


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