The sanctions imposed on Niger by the Economic Community of West African States after its July coup are hurting civilians more than anyone else. Led by Nigeria, the bloc should revise these measures to narrowly target the generals responsible for disrupting democracy.
Niamey announced withdrawal from West African regional bloc alongside Burkina Faso and Mali, dealing blow to regional integration; Niamey strengthened ties with Russia.
Junta announced leaving ECOWAS, defying pressure to restore constitutional rule. Junta leaders of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso 28 Jan announced leaving ECOWAS, denouncing “inhumane” sanctions; move defies pressure to restore constitutional rule and deals blow to regional integration. ECOWAS immediately said three countries were “important members of the Community” and bloc “remains committed to finding a negotiated solution to the political impasse”; also said it had not yet received formal withdrawal notification. Earlier in month, ECOWAS mediation led by Togo 8 Jan obtained release of deposed President Bazoum’s son, Salem Bazoum. ECOWAS delegation visit originally scheduled for 10 Jan and postponed to 25 Jan at Niamey’s request did not take place, as ECOWAS delegation reported “technical issues”.Authorities kept severing ties with France and strengthening relations with Russia. France 2 Jan confirmed permanent closure of its embassy in Niamey citing “serious impediments making it impossible to carry out its missions”. Authorities 26 Jan reportedly sent home fifteen European training mission (EUCAP) staff and 26-27 Jan prevented their head of mission and at least five French nationals from entering country. After signature of military cooperation agreements with Russia in Dec, PM Zeine 16 Jan led delegation to Russian capital Moscow; both countries announced plans to enhance military cooperation.Insecurity persisted in Tillabery region (south west). In Gotheye department, r force 5 Jan launched airstrikes on Garé Garé gold miners camp, Tiawa village, reportedly killing at least 30 jihadist militants and at least fifteen civilians; NGO Center for Civilians in Conflict 11 Jan called for “full, impartial, and transparent investigation”, reminded armed forces of their obligation to “never target civilians”. In Kollo department, suspected jihadist militants 11 Jan attacked gendarmerie post in Laoudou village, south of Niamey, killing two gendarmes and five civilians.air force 5 Jan launched airstrikes on Garé Garé gold miners camp, Tiawa village, reportedly killing at least 30 jihadist militants and at least fifteen civilians; NGO Center for Civilians in Conflict 11 Jan called for “full, impartial, and transparent investigation”, reminded armed forces of their obligation to “never target civilians”. In Kollo department, suspected jihadist militants 11 Jan attacked gendarmerie post in Laoudou village, south of Niamey, killing two gendarmes and five civilians.
[The coup in Niger marks] the beginning of the end of a sequence of French troops withdrawing from the central Sahel.
If an ECOWAS invasion [of Niger] happened, and there was a regional war, I think that would really put the [U.S.] Defense Department in a tricky position.
West Africa has witnessed yet another coup, this time in Niger. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group encourages the EU and its member states to support regional efforts to de-escalate tensions with the Nigerien junta.
Why the U.S. government will find no easy answers in the Sahel's coup belt
On 26 July, high-ranking Nigerien officers announced on national television that they had overthrown President Mohamed Bazoum, who was democratically elected in 2021. In this Q&A, Crisis Group analysts lay out the reasons for the coup as well as the stakes going forward.
In this interview, Jean-Hervé Jezequel, Crisis Group’s Project Director for the Sahel, reflects on the ongoing crisis in the Sahel region, the struggle against expanding jihadist groups, and compares the approaches of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
Insurgents have established bases in an important nature reserve spanning parts of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. They pose a growing danger to local ecosystems and people living around the park. The three countries need to collaborate more closely to keep the threat at bay.
A spate of mass killings in Niger’s Tillabery region has raised the spectre of broader civil strife. Most worrying is the ethnic dimension to the crimes. Authorities should move quickly to prioritize civilian protection lest vigilantes take matters into their own hands.
In south-western Niger, organised banditry could reinforce mistrust between ethnic groups and foster insurgencies that jihadists could exploit. The Nigerien authorities should take action to remedy the injustices experienced by communities living off livestock, initiate intercommunal dialogues and better supervise fledgling self-defence groups.
Since 2013, when it sent troops to Mali, France has led international efforts to root out Islamist militancy from the Sahel. Yet the jihadist threat has grown. Paris and its partners should reorient their military-centred approach toward helping improve governance in the region.
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