Niger Between Preventive Diplomacy and Proxy War

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Prof. Alhagi Manta Drammeh, Professor of Islamic thought and International Relations

By: Prof. Alhagi Manta Drammeh, Professor of Islamic Thought and International Relations

The crisis in Niger has really captivated the attention of regional and international media because of its geopolitical and geostrategic importance. Niger is seen as the vanguard of any successful effort to fight terrorism in the Sahel region particularly Mali and Burkina Faso. It must be noted that the war in Libya since ethe deposition of Colonel Ghaddafi presented a big security challenge in the North of the continent and the Sahel region, as pressure mounted on the terrorists and criminal gangs in Libya and they had to move further. Thus, it is believed that the crisis in Niger can be resolved diplomatically without the need to resort to military intervention.

 

Military intervention, according to many observers and commentators will compound the situation and will spill over in other parts of the region. Unnecessary wars should not be fought in Africa. Africa needs economic and social development, in addition to political stability. It is not impossible o have a diplomatic solution, if there is a political will and the inclusion of reginal players, notwithstanding the consideration of domestic socio-economic, political, ethnic dynamics. Lessons have to be learned from Ukraine where it was thought that the special operation will end in days but now we are into the second year and there is no winner, while atrocities and crimes have bell perpetrated. A war can be waged easily but cannot be ended so easily.

There is a need for addressing the fundamental factors and causes for these sudden military takeovers in West Africa, though they are unlawful. It is not conceivable that Niger has large deposits of uranium and other minerals but cannot offer basic energy needs of its people and this is the case in many African countries. There is a feeling of corruption, deprivation and inequality in the distribution of both the political power and natural resources. Politics should be on the basis of strong institutions and competence and should not be based on favouritism, nepotism or on the basis of ethnicity. There is a need to nurture the culture of inclusion and entrench the value of citizenship.

Any military adventure in Niger, maybe seen as a proxy war. In fact, there is a growing sense of Pan-Africanism and anti-colonialism. Africans are now calling for mutual respect and sovereignty to rule themselves by themselves without any foreign dictates. Indeed, military intervention will complicate further the security situation not only in Niger but the entire region.

In conclusion, we believe there is a chance for peaceful diplomatic solution to the crisis in Niger. We believe that any military intervention will be catastrophic and long. Its implications will be far-reaching. Dialogue is never too late; there is still a window of opportunity to engage all parties. Preventive approach will be necessary to soul search for durable solutions by examining the root causes of anger and agitation.

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