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Burkinabe Defense Minister Slams Possible Intervention in Niger as Neglecting Terrorism Threat

Kassoum Coulibaly in an exclusive interview with Sputnik Africa
Kassoum Coulibaly in an exclusive interview with Sputnik Africa - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 19.08.2023
In light of the July military coup in Niger and threats by the West African bloc to use force if ousted President Mohamed Bazoum did not return to power, Burkina Faso and Mali announced that any military intervention in Niger would mean a declaration of war against them.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) decision to bring military forces into Niger to restore ousted President Bazoum to power instead of assisting the region in fighting the terrorist threat is bizarre, Kassoum Coulibaly, Burkina Faso's Minister of Defense, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview.
"Everyone condemns the coup. But saying that we should intervene to reinstate an ousted head of state in a country that is under terrorist attack is ridiculous," the minister noted.
Coulibaly added that ECOWAS is meant to "demonstrate solidarity with the region in the struggle against terrorism," as reflected in the bloc's counterterrorism plan for 2020-2024.
Protesters hold an anti-France placard during a demonstration on independence day in Niamey on August 3, 2023. Security concerns built on August 3, 2023 ahead of planned protests in coup-hit Niger, with France demanding safety guarantees for foreign embassies as some Western nations reduced their diplomatic presence.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 16.08.2023
Sub-Saharan Africa
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In this vein, as the defense chief pointed out, it would be "odd" if instead of helping to solve social problems, heads of West African states would choose to intervene in Niger "because they want to reinstall another head of state."
Coulibaly stressed that it is important not to give Niger a fertile ground for terrorist movements to thrive, as was the case with Libya, Iraq and Syria, from where the terrorist flow descended to the Sahel countries.
"The weapons have dispersed, terrorist movements have formed and it's a descent that runs into Mali, Niger and all the way down to Burkina Faso," the minister argued. "If we were to allow Niger to be dragged into this chaos, we would only be creating a perfect breeding ground for terrorist movements."
On this premise, the minister said, Burkina Faso supports Niger's security and defense forces and will stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Mali in the event of aggression against Niamey.

"What is certain is that Burkina Faso will stand shoulder to shoulder with Mali in the event of any aggression against Niger, because we already share a border and we have fought and are obliged to fight in the war against terrorism together," Coulibaly concluded.

A coup took place in Niger on July 26. Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted and detained by his own guard, led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tchiani. Following the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended all financial aid to Niger, froze rebels' assets and imposed a ban on commercial flights to and from the country.

In early August, as a response to the coup, ECOWAS leaders decided to deploy reserve forces to potentially force the Nigerien military to reinstate Bazoum.

Against this backdrop, the transitional governments of Burkina Faso and Mali said in a joint statement that any military intervention against Niger would mean a declaration of war against them.
On Friday, local media reported that Burkina Faso and Mali have deployed warplanes to retaliate to any military aggression against Niger.