Massive protests in Niger praise Russia and demand the immediate departure of French forces

On Sunday, the Nigerian capital witnessed popular demonstrations demanding the departure of the French forces, “Barkhane”, while several hundred people, under the aegis of the pan-Africanist movement M63, organized a peaceful demonstration on Sunday in the streets of the capital. Nigerian Niamey.

According to the French news agency, around 3,000 French soldiers are still deployed in the Sahel, notably in Niger, one of Paris’ main allies in the region, after their complete expulsion from Mali. According to experts, the departure of the French operation is directly linked to the several years of failure to establish security and to fight against the armed groups present on Malian territory and in the troubled region.

Protesters demanded the immediate withdrawal of Barkhane forces from Niger. According to them, the French have violated sovereignty and destabilized the Sahel for several years, and they expressed their dissatisfaction through various banners on which one could read “We want to be free like Mali”, “Down with France”, ” Down with the criminal French army”, to express their support for Mali against France.

This attitude towards the French mission is justified by the intangible results that France has obtained during almost 10 years of presence in the Sahelian region. As a reminder, a French military convoy was again blocked by demonstrators on Saturday, November 27, 2021, in the Nigerien town of Téra, in the west of the country.

Yesterday’s demonstrations were also aimed at protesting against the policies of the ruling president who is often criticized by the Nigerien people for his cooperation with Paris, as well as the rising cost of living in Niger. The recent rise in the price of diesel and certain food products has also been the source of popular discontent.

Among other things, the demonstrators expressed their attitude towards cooperation with the Russian Federation by marching with the flags of this country which recently revived friendly relations with neighboring Mali. After the Malian authorities resumed active cooperation with Russia, which is already bearing fruit in the fight against terrorism in Mali, and therefore in the Sahel region, the neighboring countries no longer consider France as the only partner capable of helping the countries of the region.

On August 16, 2022, the authorities of Mari sent an official letter to the UN Security Council in which the head of Malian diplomacy said he was ready to present the evidence. of the cooperation of the French military with the militants. It is obvious that a clear attitude has been established in the region vis-à-vis the French mission in the Sahel. The ineffectiveness of foreign armies is increasingly at the center of the debate between military experts: is the Barkhane mission in the Sahel necessary to restore security? Are the countries of the region capable of rallying to a united front against the terrorist threat?