The deadline set by ECOWAS is running out and Niger is preparing for military intervention

The ECOWAS ultimatum is about to expire which demanded that the coup plotters in Niger leave power, and the coup plotters in Niger are still in power. The tensions that have accumulated over the past week will reach their peak this Monday. At that point, a Nigerian-led military intervention could begin, which so far would have been done with the cooperation of Senegal, Benin and Ivory Coast. Those who support the coup plotters raise their heads and await the attack. confident that the combined forces of Niger with Burkina Faso and Mali (Countries, both of which are ruled by the military and which have already announced that they will fight against ECOWAS intervention) will be able to slow down the coalition of African nations.

As in the moments before so many wars, the atmosphere in Niamey vacillates between celebration and apprehension; While some flaunt their patriotism on the streets and in cafes, confident of victory and the heroic deeds to come, others wait in their homes, fearful of the horror that may be to come. A similar environment to that in neighboring Nigeria, where Fear of a war that would not necessarily improve the situation in the country (sunk in an economic crisis and crushed by communal infighting between Peul herdsmen and farmers) is mixed with the most fearful spirits. Mohammed, a 25-year-old resident of Abuja, recalls, “The Nigerian army is very strong, very strong, and we know how to fight well.” He won’t fight, but trusts in his own abilities.

closure of Nigerian airspace

Both the military junta that has ruled Niger since the July 26 coup and ECOWAS are in a critical situation. The first saw how within a few days The US, Canada, France and the European Union stopped the flow of development aid essential to the economy of an impoverished nation. After terminating military cooperation agreements with France over the weekend, they are now left alone to face jihadism affecting the south-east and south-west regions of the country.

on sunday night, Addressing the nation, Nigeria’s new leader declared that “a foreign country” was completing preparations for an invasion, while pointing to “two Central African nations” as necessary partners in such action. From midnight it was announced the closure of Nigerian airspace until a new date, a measure taken to prepare Niger for a possible Nigeria-led intervention, whose troops would be making their way to the border today, despite the inevitability of the strength of an attack remains relative until the first shot is fired. The discourse of the putschists has therefore turned in the last few hours into an alarmist discourse conditioned by the imminent attack, accusing neighboring countries of conspiring against the will of Nigerians without naming them.

ECOWAS also faces a number of difficulties in launching this military intervention, which it had warned would take place if the coup plotters did not return power before last Sunday. Of the fifteen countries that make up ECOWAS, only three agreed to work with Nigeria. One of them, Senegal, is closer to Cadiz than Abuja (capital of Nigeria). Transporting troops to take part in the offensive would involve high costs that do not necessarily fit the political situation in Dakar. And on the other hand, in the Global Firepower Ranking, Benin is ranked 144th out of 145 countries evaluated in terms of military capability. Its effectiveness in a war against nations whose armies have been fighting jihadism for years would be minimal, to say the least.

There have also been rumors in recent days of a hasty deal being signed between the coup plotters in Niger and the Wagner Group, although this has not yet been confirmed and should be taken as valid information as it remains to be seen if Russia is ready to do so joined forces with ECOWAS at the risk of losing potential trading partners in Africa. The same applies to a possible French involvement on the ECOWAS side. Although French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna confirmed last Saturday that her country would support a possible military intervention, adding that a possible war must be “taken very seriously”, it is also unclear how they would help. Algeria has already announced that it will not allow French planes to fly over its airspace attacking Nigerian territory, while European arsenals are low due to aid to Ukraine and arming an African army would be complicated.

Reluctance in Nigeria to intervene

Bola Tinubu, the President of Nigeria, is also in a delicate situation after taking office The Nigerian Senate overwhelmingly rejected the question of military intervention, in a vote after which Tinubu was asked to expand the diplomatic route to the maximum. Although Nigeria’s constitution allows the President to launch military action against the will of the Senate, so long as the threat being responded to poses a threat to national security, it is unknown to what extent the President can afford it, with what few support he began losing his legislature in early May. Tinubu, whose resolve appears sincere, met with leaders in northern Nigeria on Sunday to try to win them over and gain the support needed to green-light intervention.

The shadow of jihadism flies over the worries. It is unclear how Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, all terrorism-hit nations, could continue the fight a threat that it has been more than ten years since he settled in the region. A war between countries would give the jihadists wings to expand their territories. In that case there is no doubt that they would be the only clear winners.

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