Reports that Burkina Faso and Mali will consider any military intervention in Niger as a declaration of war against them, are being read in Russia. The reports have made their way to Russian state media TASS.
Pro-Iran media Al-Mayadeen is also reporting on Niger and there appears to be a kind of trend developing. Russia and Iran want to use Niger as a symbol of the US and European decline in Africa.
Reports point out that Niger was important for the US role in West Africa and the Sahel. There was a drone base and other operations. Now after the coup in Niger the US, France and others are being cautious.
"Any military intervention against Niger would be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali," a statement reads. Tass notes that “on the evening of July 26, the rebels announced on national television the ousting of President Mohamed Bazoum, the closure of the republic's borders, a curfew, the suspension of the constitution, and a ban on the activity of political parties.”
On Monday, BBC said that Niger’s new authorities had suspended uranium and gold exports to France. “Niger is the seventh-largest uranium producer worldwide accounting for 5% of global production. According to French mass media, Niger accounts for 15% - 17% of the uranium used to generate electricity in France,” Tass says.
Clearly, Russia must be pleased. It wants these exports from other countries in the Sahel, such as Sudan. Russia’s hand may now be in Niger and it appear Iran may benefit as well. Iran already benefited in Mali from the change in government there.
Now reports say that Niger’s new leaders have accused France of plotting a military intervention. France is said to be evacuating nationals from the country. France says the safety of its nationals is the main priority now. The question is what may come next.
If Burkina Faso and Mali line up behind Niger this could pit them against other African states such as Nigeria and members of ECOWAS. ECOWAS, which includes a number of countries in West Africa, has given the coup leaders a weak to give power back to the elected leadership.
Russia and Iran consider using Niger for their proxies
As time ticks down it appears that both sides are preparing for escalation; but with Russia and Iran’s hand potentially looking at Niger as a place to put their proxies, it could set up a much larger crisis. This crisis affects the Sahel and potentially impacts the Middle East and North Africa as well.