Algeria ‘regrets’ Ecowas military intervention option for Niger

Peaceful resolutions to coup remain, ministers in Algiers say

A supporter holds a placard of Niger's new military ruler, Gen Abdourahamane Tiani, in Niamey. AFP
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Algeria has expressed its “deep regret” that Ecowas has decided to intervene militarily in Niger rather than negotiate for a political solution to the country's coup.

Algeria's Foreign Ministry said political and diplomatic means have not been exhausted and paths towards peace, other than intervention, are still viable.

“The history of our region is full of lessons that indicate military interventions have always carried more problems than solutions,” the ministry said.

“They [military interventions] constituted additional factors for confrontation and division rather than being a source of stability and security.”

Algeria said resorting to what it called “violent” solutions might lead to “a cycle of violence with unpredictable consequences” for West Africa.

Ecowas, the Economic Community of West African States, last week said it had set a date for a military intervention to restore the deposed president Mohamed Bazoum's rule after last month's military coup by senior army officers.

In Burkina Faso, Defence Minister Kassoum Coulibaly said his country was prepared to support Niger in the event of Ecowas intervention.

Algeria’s position on Niger holds significant weight as the two share a border about 1,000 kilometres long.

Algeria must also consider securing its border with Niger should a military intervention spill over into its territory.

"Algeria's call for a peaceful solution stems from its conviction that any resort to military intervention [in Niger] would lead to the explosion of the situation and collapse of the entire security equation in the region, as it would open confrontations on more than one front," Algerian security and conflict resolution expert, Ahmed Mizab, told The National.

He said military intervention "would turn into a regional war as several countries expressed their willingness to back up Niger's ruling junta to counter Ecowas".

Mr Mizab said the use of force to resolve the crisis would feed into pre-existent problems, such as ethnic tension and terrorism, which would thrive and expand in the context of conflict.

Seventeen Nigerien soldiers were killed and 20 injured last Wednesday in a terrorist attack by an armed group near the town of Koutougou at the border with Mali.

Mr Mizab also expressed his fear that a military solution would not only risk a regional war but also a proxy war between major western powers, namely the UUS, France and Russia, which consider the West African region of great geo-strategic value.

General Abdourahmane Tchiani, head of the ruling military council of Niger, accused Ecowas of conspiring with parties and countries outside Africa.

He said Niger did not want war but it would defend itself if its integrity is compromised.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 1:35 PM