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‘We don’t want your money, use it to sponsor a weight loss program for Victoria Nuland’: Niger’s military rulers tell USA

It is notable here that the USA has not officially declared military rule as a 'coup'. If it does, it will be legally able to stop millions of dollars in military and other kinds of assistance. There are over 1000 US military personnel still stationed in Niger.

The military government in Niger has rejected the USA’s attempts to find a ‘diplomatic solution’ to ‘restore democracy’ in their country after the July 26 coup. Another proposed visit led by UN representatives and diplomats from the Western African bloc was rejected by niger on Tuesday.

On July 26, the military of Niger, led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, who was the former chief of the Presidential Guard, seized power in the Sahel nation by removing President Mohammad Bazoum. Bazoum has been in detention since.

As per reports, a diplomatic mission, led by US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had traveled to Niger’s capital Nimaye. However, they could only meet the new military chief of staff  Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, not the new leader General Abdourahamane Tchiani or the deposed President Bazoum.

As per reports, the Niger military leaders, who now rule the country, dismissed the threats of economic sanctions and withdrawal of military and financial help from the USA.

Nuland stated that the military leaders of Niger were ‘unresponsive’ to her proposals and suggestions on how they want to proceed to ‘restore democracy’ in the country. The discussion with the military leaders was “extremely frank and at times quite difficult”, Nuland told the media at Nimaye.

Nuland threatens suspension of all help, military leaders reject her threat and throw insults

Nuland had a 2-hour meeting with some of the senior military leaders where she threatened to cut all kinds of support to Niger if the military leaders do not stand down, and let former President Bazoum rule the country again.

Nuland reportedly told the military leaders that she made “absolutely clear the kinds of support that will be legally cut off if democracy is not restored”.

To which, the military leaders of Niger reportedly replied. “We don’t want your money. Use your money to fund a weight loss program for Victoria Nuland.”

It is notable here that the USA has not officially declared military rule as a ‘coup’. If it does, it will be legally able to stop millions of dollars in military and other kinds of assistance. There are over 1000 US military personnel still stationed in Niger. Niger under Bazoum has been a ‘partner’ with the USA and European nations, ‘helping’ them fight Islamic terrorism in the Sahel region. The USA also has a modern drone base in Niger, one that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.

However, the military leaders have asserted that Niger’s resources have been exploited by foreign powers.

ECOWAS gives a deadline, Niger closes airspace

Nigers’ military leadership has defied all threats and deadlines to reinstate the President. On Monday, 7 August, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), stated that they would meet on Thursday, August 10, to discuss the next steps regarding Niger, hinting at a possible military intervention.

In response, Niger has closed its airspace and warned that any military intervention, clearly aided by foreign powers, will be severely dealt with.

In the neighboring country of Nigeria, where President Bola Tinubu had threatened Niger with military invasion, the public has been outraged. Tinubu is facing a huge political and public backlash in his home country for trying to push the country into a war with Niger.

The coup in Niger, how it happened, and why it is significant

on July 26, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the former chief of the Presidential Guard in Niger, orchestrated a coup and removed President Bazoum from power. Bazoum remains in military detention, though he is reported to have spoken with US officials.

General Abdourahamane Tchiani declared that the coup was necessary to prevent Niger’s “gradual and inevitable demise”.

The military leaders are enjoying public support in Niger, with thousands of people flocking to stadiums to declare support for them.

The Sahel region in Africa, Niger is a landlocked country between Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin Nigeria, and Algeria, image via BBC

General Abdourahamane Tchiani has been riding on a wave of public support for the military and a general sentiment of rejecting colonial rulers, France, in Niger’s case. The public voices and the military leaders have claimed that Bazoum’s government failed to protect the country from Jihadi terrorism and allowed it to be exploited by foreign powers.

Russian flags being waved in Niger by public that supports the military rule, along with flags of Mali and Burkina Faso, image via @felixtiih on Twitter

Niger is one of the largest countries in Africa, but also one of the poorest. It sits on huge deposits of Uranium. 25% of the Uranium produced in Niger goes to France, its former colonial master.

Interestingly, after the military takeover, Russian flags suddenly appeared on the streets of Niger, with many people declaring they hate the West and love Russia. The public has been seen rising slogans in support of Vladimir Putin. The military leaders have already asked the mercenary group Wagner to come and help them, and as per reports, Wagner fighters have already reached there.

Russia has been indirectly supporting the removal of Bazoum, at least in words, and has labeled USA’s attempts to ‘restore democracy’ and new methods to exploit the country as they exploited Ukraine.

After taking power, the military leadership in Niger asked the French troops to leave the country. They have also pushed the UN peacekeepers out.

It is notable here that Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali all 3 are currently under military rule that overthrew USA-and Europe supported regimes. Ibrahim Traore, the military leader of Burkina Faso has stated that the military regime has Russia’s support and Russia has been granting them unrestricted access to weapons and equipment at a reasonable price.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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