Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, Algeria and Egypt express ‘concern’ over Niger coup

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Several Middle Eastern countries including Turkey and Saudi Arabia expressed concern over the coup in Niger on Thursday, ousting pro-West President Mohamed Bazoum.

“We follow with deep concern the coup attempt perpetrated by a group within the Armed Forces in Niger,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement, saying the kingdom is following events in the West African country with “great concern,” but did not use the word “coup.”

The United Arab Emirates used harsher language, saying it “condemns” the coup.

“The UAE has condemned the coup attempt in the Republic of Niger, and stressed the importance of maintaining stability and security in the country,” said the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry is following “developments in Niger with great concern,” also declining to label the event a “coup.”

Algeria, which borders Niger, said on Wednesday it “strongly condemns the attempted coup.”

Libya, which also borders Niger, did not immediately comment.

Background: The incident began on Wednesday when members of Niger’s presidential guard took President Mohamed Bazoum captive. The mutinous forces subsequently announced that they had seized control of the country in response to the country’s poor security and economic situation, according to The Associated Press.

The situation further escalated on Thursday when coup supporters burned the headquarters of the ruling party in the capital, Niamey. This occurred after the army command endorsed the takeover, Reuters reported.

The coup has been condemned by the international community, including the United States, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which includes Niger.

Why it matters: The Gulf has expressed economic interest in West Africa recently. In June of last year, the Abu Dhabi Exports Office signed a trade deal with ECOWAS. The following November, the Saudi Fund for Development signed a water deal with Guinea.

Some observers are tying the coup to Russia’s growing influence on the African continent. The coup supporters chanted pro-Russia and anti-French slogans on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Bazoum is viewed by the West as a key ally in the fight against jihadist armed groups in the Sahel region, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The West places more importance in Bazoum after neighboring Mali turned away from France and accepted Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries, according to the AP.

Wagner entered Mali in 2021 to help the government fight jihadist groups.

A February report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace noted that Wagner has taken advantage of poor relations between the Sahel countries and France.

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin endorsed the coup on Thursday, saying that “what happened in Niger is the fight of its people against the colonizers. … It effectively means winning independence,” according to the AP.

However, the Russian government condemned the coup in Niger and called for all parties to refrain from force, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, according to Russia’s official Tass news agency.

Adam Lucente

Source:Al-Monitor

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