On July 26, a group of Nigerien soldiers led by General Abdourahamane Tiani announced the overthrow of the government of Mohamed Bazoum, the staunch ally - or rather lackey - of French imperialism in the region. The overthrow of Bazoum by military forces joins the list of other examples since 2020 such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. This way, a de facto bloc of four bordering countries is being formed to oppose France's imperialist grip on the region.
It is clear that the overthrow of the pro-imperialist government in Niger is enjoying massive popular support, as in Mali and Burkina Faso. The M62, a civilian anti-imperialist movement fighting against the presence of French troops on Nigerien soil and whose leader was imprisoned by Bazoum's government, called for a demonstration on July 30. This call met with an enthusiastic response from the Nigerien population. According to a Nigerien journalist quoted by Le Monde, it was the most massive demonstration the capital Niamey had ever seen. Demonstrators expressed their hostility to French imperialism by burning French flags, followed by attacks on the French embassy - the ultimate symbol of French imperialism in the country – and they ended by setting fire to the embassy.
The massive expressions of opposition to French imperialism and the governments in its pay - in Niger as in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea - clearly show that what is happening is no mere "palace coup". On the contrary, we are witnessing a turning point in the history of West Africa, and the genesis of a popular will to put an end to France's neo-colonial domination. It is only normal that the masses of the Sahel region are full of hatred against the French neo-colonialism, which displays itself in an array of ways, ranging from the presence of the historical aberration of “Central African Franc” as the currency (a residue of the French colonial rule) as well as the French troops stationed in the region for the “Operation Barkhane.” This does not mean that we have any confidence in the military forces in power. However, the existence of a mass anti-imperialist movement in all these countries shows us that the anti-imperialist turn is here to stay, with or without military leadership.
It is symbolically very important to note that the conflict between the Sahel countries and France, the former colonial power, has come almost on the heels of the revolt of the youth of Maghrebin and sub-Saharan origin living in the banlieues of French cities in reaction to the killing in cold blood by a police officer of a teen of Maghrebin origin. The brutality of the French police, under Gérald Darmanin, Macron’s Interior Minister who squarely competes with Marine Le Pen in racism and who called the youth in revolt “pest” in the tradition of Nicolas Sarkozy, is emblematic of the colonial arrogance of the French state. Within and without, the French state, long-tempered in haughty colonialist posing, still insists on sticking to its guns, “persiste et signe”, as the French saying goes, in shameless aggressivity.
France and the imperialist powers - including the United States and the European Union - were quick to realize the potential of this turning point to change the situation in the region. France and the other European imperialists unleashed a series of condemnations against the "putschists", followed by economic sanctions. The reaction on the part of Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State of Biden, and a similar reaction by Macron, protesting against the coup because it had brought down an elected president, rings all the more hollow as the US and France acted in complicity with the “hereditary coup” in Chad in April 2021 and the ouster of the civilian members of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and the Prime Minister Hamdok in October 2021, which amounted to a coup against a tremendous popular revolution. In both cases the imperialist powers looked the other way, because it suited their interests to do so. Chad is a Sahel country itself and Sudan is the next-door neighbor of Chad! What hypocrisy to condone pro-imperialist military coups and condemn anti-imperialist ones!
Beyond this, imperialism is proving increasingly hawkish in the face of the challenge to its hegemony. Niger's new government has announced that it unveiled a French plan for a counter-coup. Moreover, ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), under the sway of Nigeria, has given Niger an ultimatum, threatening military intervention if Bazoum is not reinstated by August 7. Burkina Faso and Mali, for their part, showed their support for Niger and stated that they would consider any military intervention against Niger as a declaration of war. Nigerien opposition parties such as Moden Fa Lumana, the M62 movement and trade unions have declared their support for the new government and are ready to mobilize against foreign intervention. A war between the Nigerian army (of Nigeria), supported by European imperialism, and the Nigerien population, supported by their Burkinabè and Malian allies, seems imminent.
The French media clearly makes a connection between the evacuation of French citizens as well as the citizens of other European countries and the date of the ultimatum ECOWAS has pronounced, that is 7 August. It is highly probable that ECOWAS and France or perhaps even the EU have coordinated the evacuation process and the prospective military intervention, trying to get out as many Europeans as possible before the war starts.
The military overthrow of Mohamed Bazoum supported by the popular masses of Niger is another manifestation of the mass anti-imperialist upsurge in the entire Sahel. It is a powerful blow to all imperialist and colonialist forces of France, the EU, and the US in the African Continent. It has to be supported by all fighters of the international workers’ and anti-imperialist movement. It is not the product of a Russian conspiracy or of a " Wagner operation", as the Western imperialist and pro-imperialist mass media falsely claim. The flags of Russia raised by the masses of Niger in demonstrations as previously in other countries of the Sahel express their immediate need for a point of international support as a counterweight against the direct threat of imperialist military invasion. It is definitely a manifestation of the general response of the over-exploited masses in Africa and in the Global South to the immense dangers generated by the US-led NATO proxy war in Ukraine, escalating all over the world into a Third World War. The NATO statement in its recent Summit in Vilnius does not leave any doubt about the international war plans of imperialism, involving Africa as well, "the Southern wing of NATO", according to NATO's Secretary Stoltenberg.
We declare our resolute opposition to any military intervention and economic sanctions against Niger. We stand with the peoples of Niger and the Sahel against all neo-colonial aggression. The peoples of the Sahel have every right to fight against French imperialism and its lackeys, by any means necessary. There's only one thing for France to do in the Sahel, and that's to get out! Nigerian people and soldiers must refuse to fight against their Nigerien brothers and sisters!
Down with French imperialism!
France out of the Sahel!
French, EU, and US imperialists out of Africa!
For Freedom, Independence, and Socialist unification of all the peoples of Africa!
Down with military intervention against Niger!
Nigerian soldiers, don't shoot against your Nigerien brothers and sisters!
Let's fight imperialism and its lackeys, wherever they are present!
The International Socialist Center “Christian Rakovsky”
The RedMed web network