Saturday, August 5, 2023

Niger coup: Why West Africa has become the center of inter-imperialist standoff

The military coup d'etat of July 26th in Niger, which deposed pro-French President Mohammad Bazoum, is part of the broader imperialist confrontation of the Western powers (USA, NATO, EU) with Russia and China. This time, the imperialist standoff is focused on the resource-rich region of Sahel, activating the decades-old political divisions in West Africa. 

Sahel, a vast region stretching from the west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea to the coast of Eritrea in the Red Sea, has attracted the increasing interests of rival imperialist centers thus sharpening the their competition in recent decades.

Using the “fight against terrorism” as a pretext, the U.S. have launched a massive “anti-terrorist” programme since 2005, seeking to establish close collaboration with the military forces of the region's countries. Similarly, the EU has spent more than 8 billion Euros during the last decade on so-called “counter-terrorism operations”. The same pretext of combating terrorism is also used by other competing imperialist powers in the broader region, such as Russia, China and Turkey, aiming to promote their own monopoly interests, with Russia and Turkey moving towards the establishment of closer military relations.

The mineral wealth of Sahel is enormous, as it includes large deposits of gold, copper, oil, natural gas, bauxite and uranium, which are exploited or overseen by various monopoly giants. Two-thirds of Mali's exports are gold, while Niger is the world's fourth largest producer of uranium and has significant deposits of oil, natural gas, lignite, phosphorus and gold. Even tiny Burkina Faso's main export is gold, exploited by approximately 60 multinational companies.

It is certain that if the new, coup-generated government prevails in Niger and the French monopolies lose access to cheap uranium, the Chinese business giants will be significantly benefited. After all, in recent years China increased its influence in the country's economy by financing and constructing large infrastructure projects, especially in the field of Energy (oil pipeline, exploitation projects of oil and uranium deposits, modern refinery, etc). 

In any case, no matter the outcome of the coup, the price of imperialist competitions will be paid dearly by the working class people of Niger. The workers of Africa, men and women, have no interest to choose any of the two imperialist blocs that covet the mineral wealth of their nations. Only the struggle against all kinds of exploiters, against all kinds of imperialists and, most of all, against capitalism itself, can pave the way for a better future for the people of Niger and all Africa. 

* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.