Military Coup in Niger: What is Happening and What is the Impact on Europe

On the 26th of July 2023, a coup d’état has taken place in Niger. The consequences are still not fully known, however, it is clear that this event could have a significant impact on the stability of the European Union and on the Russian War.

On the 26th of July 2023, a coup d’état has taken place in Niger. The president has been detained by its presidential guard and the commander general Abdourahamane Tchiani has publicly proclaimed himself as the new leader of the military junta. The consequences of the coup are still not fully known, however, what is clear is that this event could have a significant impact on the stability of the European Union and on the Russian War.

Overview on the Nigerian coup

Mohamed Bazoum, the Nigerian president who was overthrown on the 26th of July represented a voice of change in the country. He had, in fact, been democratically elected in 2021, transforming Niger into an example of stable democracy in the West African region. Moreover, he had strengthened ties with the European Union and other western countries by offering various forms of aid.

Discontent with his government, however, started arising within the country due to the prolonged difficult living conditions. Rates of poverty are still, in fact, extremely elevated, with 42% of the population living in extreme poverty. The situation, moreover, is aggravated by the violent situation in the Sahel region, where numerous Islamist groups operate against the stability of local governments.

The latter is exactly the publicly stated reason of the coup d’état that overthrew Bazoum’s government. The Nigerian military leadership that was in charge of fighting against terrorism, in fact, believed that the government did not provide them with enough support, rendering it difficult to fight against the enemy.

The coup’s impact on Europe

The military coup that has recently taken place in Niger represents a threat not only for the survival of democracy in the region but also for the European continent for several reasons.

Firstly, the country hosts French and US military bases that are considered essential by the West as key allies in the fight against extremist groups that operate in the region. Secondly, the ex-president Bazoum was a key strategic ally for the old continent as he provided help in several ways. One of these is the much-debated problem of migration from African countries to the European continent, where Bazoum provided help to Europe by fighting against the flow of migrants towards the old continent and by bringing back refugees to African countries.

Debate over Russia’s involvement

The military coup in Niger has generated much support among the country’s population that has taken advantage of the situation to protest against the Western influence in the country, which is seen negatively, and instead express its support for Russia.

Niger had been under the French influence for a period of around 50 years until it gained independence in the 1960s. However, much of the population does not see the country in a positive light as it believes that France has continued to exercise a form of indirect imperialism in the region by exploiting its natural resources while maintaining poverty. It can be claimed, therefore, that some of the supporters of the situation are not pro-coup but simply against democracy and the West and have seen in the deposition of Bazoum a way to free the country from European influence.

On the other hand, while France has received much criticism, Russia and Putin have been hailed in numerous occasions. Although the Kremlin has not shown signs of agreement with the coup d’état but, on the contrary demanded the release of the ex-president Bazoum, the Russian Wagner (a military society that has strict connections to the Russia security and intelligence services) has openly supported the situation. This has led some to believe that the coup occurred with the support of the Russian government, which acted with the aim of rendering Niger independent from European control. The biggest accuse has come from Ukraine and the adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mikhailo Podolyak, who has accused Russia of orchestrating the coup against the Nigerian democratic government with the aim of creating instability in the region.

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