2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Russia’s Putin offers military, technology to countries against West, as Nigeriens call for war volunteers
The call for volunteers, spearhead by a group of locals in Niamey, aims to recruit tens of thousands of volunteers from across the country to register for the Volunteers for the Defense of Niger, to fight, assist with medical care, and provide technical and engineering logistics among other functions, in case the junta needs help, Amsarou Bako, one of the founders, said.
“It’s an eventuality. We need to be ready whenever it happens,” he said. The recruitment drive will launch Saturday in Niamey as well as in cities where invasion forces might enter, such as near the borders with Nigeria and Benin, two countries, which have said they would participate in an intervention. Anyone over 18 can register and the list will be given to the junta to call upon people if needed, said Bako. The junta is not involved, but is aware of the initiative, he said.
Meanwhile, the Sahel Alliance has called for immediate release of the ousted President, Bazoum. Sahel Alliance is an international coordination platform for stability and development in G5 Sahel countries: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze, in a statement issued in her capacity as President of the General Assembly of Sahel Alliance, said peace, human rights and institutional stability were critical factors in socio-economic development.
Schulze also said the Sahel Alliance condemned in the strongest terms, the attempt to unconstitutionally take over all powers from the democratically elected state institutions in Niger and the illegal detention of Bazoum and his family.
In July 2023, Schulze took over the presidency of the Sahel Alliance. The German Minister stated that the Niger development was a setback that aggravated the complex development challenges in the country and in the Sahel further.
Niger’s military-appointed prime minister on Tuesday evening made an unannounced visit to neighbouring Chad as West African states set talks for mulling possible military intervention to reverse the coup today. Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, a civilian appointed by the military rulers who ousted Bazoum on July 26, arrived in Chad for a “working visit,” the Chadian government said on Facebook.
In a statement issued after meeting Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Itno, Zeine said he had brought a message of “good neighbourliness and fraternity” from the head of Niger’s regime.
Zeine’s unannounced visit came after sources said military chiefs from the regional bloc ECOWAS would meet in Ghana on Thursday to discuss intervention in Niger.
Analysts say military intervention would be operationally risky and politically hazardous, given divisions within ECOWAS ranks and fears of worsening the Sahel’s chronic instability. The West African bloc ECOWAS has intervened militarily six times among its members since 1990.
With the increasing anti-French sentiments spreading in Africa, President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has said his country is prepared to deepen bilateral ties with countries pursuing their national interests against the West. He said his country, which has been in fierce war with Ukraine and hostility with its Western allies, will provide technological and military partnerships in those countries.
Putin made this known in a video address to the international military-technical forum Army-2023 in Moscow region, according to Anadolu Agency yesterday.
“Russia is open to deepening equal technological partnership and military-technical cooperation with other countries, with everyone who defends their national interests, their independent path of development,” Putin said.
The Russian leader further said, an “equal indivisible security system” is “fundamentally important,” as he proposed the development of cooperation in several spheres.
This came on the heels of the Niger coup that toppled Bazoum, which has drew Putin closer Mali and Burkina Faso. Putin, after the Niger coup, met with Burkina Faso military leader, Colonel Ibraheem Traore, and also made a phone call to his Malian counterpart, Assimi Goita.
Although Putin said he called for a peaceful resolution in the West African country, as the military takeover is spreading through the Sahel, unfounded reports say his capitalizinggain influence.
Speaking further on the agreements with countries, the Russian leader said, “And we expect that, as before, important agreements and export contracts will be signed on the sidelines of the forum.
“In fact, we are talking about creating a new independent science-intensive and high-tech industry. And of course, we suggest paying attention to the innovative and civilian products of our defense industry enterprises. These are boats and helicopters, amphibians and drones for the widest range of applications,” he added.
He said Russia offers its partners a wide range of modern weapons, including “the latest control systems, intelligence, high-precision weapons and robotics.”
Putin hoped the forum will help strengthen “military and military-technical partnership for the benefit of security and stability in the emerging multipolar world.”
Regional tensions are deepening as the standoff between Niger and ECOWAS shows no signs of defusing, despite signals from both sides that they are open to resolving the crisis peacefully. Last week the junta said it was open to dialogue with ECOWAS after rebuffing the bloc’s multiple efforts at talks, but shortly afterwards charged Bazoum with “high treason” and recalled its ambassador from neighboring Ivory Coast.
The new American ambassador to Niger, Kathleen FitzGibbon, is expected to arrive in Niamey at the end of the week, according to an American official. The United States hasn’t had an ambassador in the country for nearly two years: some Sahel experts say this has left Washington with less access to key players and information.
“The U.S is in a difficult situation with no good choices,” said Michael Shurkin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and director of global programs at 14 North Strategies. “It either sticks to a principled position and pushes for democracy while alienating the junta and risk pushing it into Russia’s arms, or we give up on principle and work with the junta in the hope of salvaging a productive working relationship,” he said.
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