Amidst the possibility of military intervention to reinstate Niger’s deposed President Muhammad Bazoum, whose government was toppled in a military coup on July 26, Gambians have been debating the probable deployment of troops to the West African nation gripped by uncertainty in the aftermath of the coup d’état that has divided opinion over what needs to be done to quell the recurring spate of military takeovers in the region.
A retired former US Army Seargent Major, former Gambia Armed Forces
Commander and a parliamentarian who spoke to TAT expressed concern over the potential sending troops of troops to Niger if ECOWAS heads of state decide to rescind the diplomatic process and use force.
On his return from an emergency meeting of ECOWAS heads of state over the political crisis in Niger last week Sunday, President Adama Barrow conveyed the Gambia’s backing of the decision by ECOWAS head of state to reinstate the Bazoum administration, which the West African blocs still recognizes as the legitimate government of Niger Republic.
Reacting to the possible deployment of troops, A retired US Army veteran, Ebrima Manneh, believes the debate over the Gambia sending troops to Niger remains a moral and professional issue, depending on the security cooperation between and among member nations.
“The debate on whether the military should be deployed remains a professional, legal, and moral issue, and what security cooperation agreement is in place between member nations,” he explained.
He further explained that deploying troops to countries involves practical training, equipment, and finance. He said these should be considered if the Gambia decides to participate in any military operation by ECOWAS.
The National Assembly member for LatriKunda, Yaya Sanyang, told TAT he doesn’t think the Gambian Army is ready for such military interventions. He questioned the possible deployment of Gambian soldiers to other countries when foreign soldiers occupy Gambia.
“I don’t think Gambian soldiers are ready for war, and the government should not deploy them to any conflict zone. In fact, why will they be deployed to another nation when foreign troops occupy the country? Isn’t that ironic?” he asked.
The lawmaker urged President Adama Barrow and ECOWAS leaders to explore dialogue and diplomacy, saying, “Gambian soldiers are not ready.”
A Former commander in the Gambia National Army, Samsideen Sarr, expressed reservations over the army’s readiness to take part in such military operations, considering existing complexities in Niger and the broader region with other West African Junta’s announcing their intention to support coup leaders in Niger if ECOWAS concedes to the use of force to reinstate Bazoum.
The security expert said the Gambia Armed Forces might not possess the necessary readiness to effectively navigate the complexities of the planned intervention, explaining that the challenges presented by an ambiguous conflict in unfamiliar territory, coupled with the intricate logistics required for a sustained campaign, give rise to legitimate concerns.
Military interventions are unfavorable to the Gambia due to the financial burden and lack of resources for such undertakings, the former army commander stated, advising President Adama Barrow to forego talks of military intervention and convince his counterparts to push for diplomatic efforts.
“He can recommend the persuasion of coup leaders to hasten their transitional timeline to civil rule. Any other proposal apart from that will be rejected by the Junta, which is very popular in the country and unwilling to reinstate the overthrown government of Bazoum. I expect him to decline any suggestion of sending Gambian troops to Niger,” the erstwhile army commander said.
On Thursday, ECOWAS heads of state are scheduled to meet in Nigeria for another round of talks over the political crisis in Niger following the Junta’s refusal to hand over power as communicated by the West African Leaders.
It remains to be seen what will be the next step for ECOWAS after the stalling of initial steps to restore Bazoum via diplomatic means.