If diplomacy fails: the date for a possible Ecowas military operation in Niger has apparently been set

If diplomacy fails: the date for a possible Ecowas military operation in Niger has apparently been set

The West African community of states Ecowas is again increasing the pressure on the putschists in Niger. The Ecowas riot squad is ready for a military intervention “once the order is given” said the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musah, on Friday evening in Ghana’s capital Accra. all options, including a diplomatic solutionbut stayed on the table.

The defense chiefs of nine of the 15 Ecowas member countries had previously discussed plans for a possible military operation in Niger at a two-day meeting. However, this is not “the preferred option” of the international community anyway, said Musah.

First, an Ecowas mission will travel to Niger. If this fails, the confederation will resort to a military solution to restore constitutional order in Niger, said the Ecowas commissioner. He did not announce when the diplomatic mission in Niger is planned.

Activation of the Ecowas riot squad has begun. “We are ready for action at any time” said Musah. A date for a possible military action has already been set; but this could not be mentioned publicly, according to the Ecowas commissioner. All member states except those governed by the military and Cape Verde have therefore agreed to participate. At the two-day meeting of the Ecowas military chiefs in Ghana’s capital Accra, the member states also committed themselves to providing “equipment and resources” that are required for the operation.

Niger says they don’t want to work with Wagner mercenaries

Niger’s President, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, reiterated international concerns that President Bazoum, who is being held captive in Niger, is not in any danger. “Nothing will happen to him because we have no tradition of violence in Niger,” Zeine told the New York Times newspaper on Friday (local time). Recently, concerns about Bazoum’s health had increased.

Mohamed Bazoum, President-elect of Niger.
Mohamed Bazoum, President-elect of Niger.
© dpa/Michel Euler

The New York Times reported that the president’s home, where he has been held since his fall, had no electricity or water. The junta also threatened to kill him if Ecowas tried to bring him back to power through military intervention. Zeine also stated, according to The New York Times, that the Nigerien military junta has no intention of working with Russia or the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries.

Difficult mission: Niger’s military junta is well trained

A military mission is likely to be a difficult undertaking for Ecowas. The airspace over the Niger has been closed since the coup, as has the airport in the capital Niamey. Niger’s military junta is said to be well trained and equipped. As Western partners, the USA, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Germany and to some extent France had trained and equipped thousands of Nigerien soldiers.

Military personnel at the two-day Ecowas conference.
Military personnel at the two-day Ecowas conference.
© REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso, also ruled by military juntas, have pledged their support to Niger should a conflict break out. An Ecowas intervention force could well be defeated in a confrontation, experts warn, and instead spark a regional conflict in West Africa.

The junta in Niger, which took power on July 26 after a coup, has declared itself ready to talk, on the one hand, and on the other hand has so far blocked all diplomatic efforts by Ecowas. The confederation of states is demanding the reinstatement of the constitution and the ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who is under house arrest.

Niger, a Sahel country with around 26 million inhabitants and one of the poorest populations in the world, was one of the last democratic partners until the putsch of the USA and European states in the Sahel zone on the southern edge of the Sahara. France and the US have important military bases in the country, which is also on a key migration route to Europe.

According to the Federal Foreign Office, Germany is supporting African efforts to resolve the crisis in Niger. They support the two-pronged approach decided by the Ecowas heads of state, on the one hand to continue the mediation efforts and at the same time to activate the Ecowas standby force. (dpa, AFP)

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