…the [U.S.] Air Force built a massive drone base whose stated purpose is to “advance national interests” by “promoting security and stability” and “fighting terrorism.” In reality, this U.S. military installation, known as Niger Air Base 201, [5] acts as an imperial overseer of Western Africa.   

Leave Africa for Africans


by Mary Beaudoin / Women Against Military Madness Newsletter
Volume 41  Number 4 / Fall 2023 
Full Newsletter here:   d2r0txsugik6oi.cloudfront.net
Contents: Save the Boards p 4
Pakistan: how did Ukraine get into this? p 6
Depleted Uranium, Cluster Bombs, $1 Billion More for War p 6
Leave Africa for Africans p 7
Update: Niger, Syria, BRICS p 10
Calendar p 11 Actions pp 3, 11, 12

The July 26 bloodless coup d’état in the African country of Niger was welcomed with jubilant cheers from Nigeriens filling a 30,000-seat sport stadium in support of the newly created National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland [1] that had removed the Western-backed president, Mohamed Bazoum, “due to the deteriorating security situation and bad governance.”

Neighboring countries Mali and Burkina Faso in the Sahel, the vast region south of the Sahara Desert, had conducted their own coups in recent years and pledged their support for the popularly supported junta, as did Guinea, which had also experienced a coup. Together, these four countries signaled the urgent desire to end neo-colonialism and take back Africa for Africans.

But the 15-member Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS), [2] whose leaders are favored by Europe and the U.S., responded by leveling sanctions against Niger, sealing off two of its borders, cutting off its electricity, and threatening to intervene militarily if the deposed Bazoum were not reinstated.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, whom we could expect to be a big fan of coups given how instrumental she was in orchestrating one in Ukraine in 2014, flew to the Nigerien capital, Niamey, on August 6. However, this time she was in opposition to the coup and on a mission to meet with Bazoum, who was under house arrest, as well as to threaten the junta officers with cutting off “U.S. economic and other kinds of support.”[3]  She was rebuffed in her efforts to see either Bazoum or Niger’s new leader, General Abdourahmane Tiani.

Nick Turse, a journalist specializing in military matters, found that at least five of the Nigerien junta officers received training within the U.S. from the U.S. military. General Tiani himself had attended a U.S. counter-terrorism program at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. [4] But that does not mean that soldiers will always act as their patrons wish.

Why was the U.S. training Nigeriens anyway? The U.S. had designated the entire continent of Africa to be under AFRICOM (the U.S. African Combatant Command) in 2007. Approximately ten years later, near the small Nigerien community of Agadez, the Air Force built a massive drone base whose stated purpose is to “advance national interests” by “promoting security and stability” and “fighting terrorism.” In reality, this U.S. military installation, known as Niger Air Base 201, [5] acts as an imperial overseer of Western Africa.  It is the second largest U.S. drone base in Africa (after the one in Djibouti, which acts as an overseer of the Horn of Africa). Connor Echols of Responsible Statecraft describes the Niger location as the “primary launching point for nearly all of Washington’s intelligence and surveillance operations in West Africa.” [6]

The U.S. has also been operating a joint mission near the Nigerien capital of Niamey with France, which colonized Niger in the 19th century and agreed to its independence in 1960 – but with major caveats to keep Niger poor and undeveloped. USAFE-AFAFRICA is the catchy simple-minded acronym for the U.S. air component of Africa working together with its European neo-colonial predecessors.[7]Beyond those currently assigned, more U.S. military have been coming and going on a transitory basis, and the U.S. and the French have also played host to military from other EU countries at their Nigerien bases.

Aside from drones, fighter jets and attack helicopters are among the aircraft that USAFE-AFRICA could operate from Niger [8] – until the July 26 coup felled the government.

We in the West want to know what is being done in our name, but what do the people of Niger think about the foreign forces on their soil? Nigerien-born journalist Constance Ikokwu, speaking August 10 on Arise News commented:

The level of terrorism – you know it used to be in the Middle East and so [today] we have the Boko Harams. We have the Al-Shabab and then we have the al-Qaeda that has affiliates in the Maghreb, in North Africa, and in West Africa. And so these countries have been suffering this for many years and that is also why you have the U.S. base there [in Niger] with over 1,000 military men and the France base with over 1,000 men, as well.

People are watching not only in Niger, but in all these francophone countries and people are watching and saying why do we have all these bases – it looks like the counter-terrorism fight is not working. They’re not winning the fight so there’s lots of lies, there is further radicalization, there’s economic devastation, there’s humanitarian crises…You look at all of this and we’re so fed up that also there are over 20 countries in Africa that have military bases of foreign countries in them and so there is ongoing awareness…


Nigerien-born journalist and Arise News commentator Constance Ikokwu

Ikokwu said that the bravado that ECOWAS displayed in issuing their threat to intervene is “because they were speaking for someone else…” She also posed the rhetorical question, “And by the way, who are you fighting for?” [9]

With all the foreign forces and Western-supported proxy politicians in Africa, it is not hard to deduce what Ikokwu was alluding to in general, while much of Niger’s justifiable vitriol is currently directed at France for mercilessly exploiting the resources of its former colonies and keeping them in economic bondage for decades.

When the young charismatic interim president of Burkina Faso spoke at the Russia Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg last July, he captured the spirit of a new Africa, an Africa for Africans liberated from the foreign shackles that would hold them down. Wearing a signature red beret evoking the image of Thomas Sankara, another young populist leader (R.I.P. 1987), and quoting from Algerian Franz Fanon’s 1961 book, The Wretched of the Earth, Captain Ibrahim Traoré told delegates from 49 African countries, including 17 heads of state [excerpts]:

The questions my generation is asking are the following. If I can summarize, it is that we do not understand how Africa, with so much wealth on our soil, with generous nature, water, sunshine in abundance—how Africa is today the poorest continent. Africa is a hungry continent. And how come there are heads of state all over the world begging? These are the questions we are asking ourselves, and we have no answers so far…

My generation also asks me to say that because of this poverty, they are forced to cross the ocean to try to reach Europe. They die in the ocean, but soon they will no longer have to cross, because they will come to our palaces to seek their daily bread.

As far as what concerns Burkina Faso today, for more than eight years we’ve been confronted with the most barbaric, the most violent form of imperialist neo-colonialism. Slavery continues to impose itself on us. Our predecessors taught us one thing: a slave who cannot assume his own revolt does not deserve to be pitied. We do not feel sorry for ourselves, we do not ask anyone to feel sorry for us. The people of Burkina Faso have decided to fight, to fight against terrorism, in order to relaunch their development.[10]

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Dr. Arikana Quao, former African Union (AU) ambassador to the U.S. – whose frank and fearless stances against colonialism and imperialism are likely why she was terminated from her position – spoke of the recent coups:

I see what’s happening in Niger, in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea very differently. If you look at the previous coups, those were orchestrated by Western powers – the majority, of course, orchestrated by France. The [African] leaders [who] were doing what was best for the people were assassinated. [Today] the people have spoken. The people understand the issues and are standing up to say what is going on is unfair, is unacceptable. It just really makes sense that something has got to give. There’s a difference between previous coups and these last four coups, especially the one in Niger. I, personally, even feel uncomfortable calling them coups. You look at a situation where people are basically desperate, where they know they are rich in natural resources, and yet the majority are extremely poor.

How long can that situation be sustained before the people finally wake and rise up? That is what’s happening and I would like to call what’s happening in these four countries an ideological realignment of their economic, their political, their social values.

At some point, if you look at the situation with the former French colonies, even when a president comes to power there are certain no-go areas that a president must not touch because you may not live to the end of the day – areas like the military, areas like, of course, the finances and reserves that must be deposited with the French treasury, areas of the natural resources – French companies have the first rights…the whole thing is so mind-boggling. It is unbelievable that you can have a country like Niger to be the second poorest country in the world and yet all the resources are going to France. Most of Niger is not electrified, while their uranium is electrifying France and Europe. You can take one thing after the other at every level and it’s unfair, it’s unacceptable. I don’t know how the Western powers sleep every day knowing the carnage that they are creating in Africa and hope this would go on forever.

The time has come. The children of Africa are now awoken and the world had better listen.[11]


Dr. ArikanaQuao, former African Union (AU) ambassador to the U.S.

While the U.S. and other governments may see opportunities with their French cohort banished, Quao wants to see all foreign forces leave and advocates for fair trade instead. We peace and justice loving people in the U.S. agree and want our government get out of Africa and stop harming and trying to control and plunder faraway people and places and start providing for the needs of our own people and our own nation which has been impoverished by militarism abroad.


Women in Niger bang pots and pans and sweep joyously with brooms in a symbolic demonstration of their support of the liberating junta in Niger. “It’s not just the men,” they say.  Photo: Mahamadou/Reuters 

UPDATE September 7: The U.S. moved its military from its base at Niamey, Niger’s capital, to its base near Agadez, and is no longer conducting joint exercises with Nigerien troops. Niger demanded French forces leave the country and says France is making plans to intervene in Niger from neighboring countries.

Mary Beaudoin is the editor of the Women Against Military Madness Newsletter


[1]Pro-Military Coup Supporters Fill Stadium in Niger’s Capital, Niamey. Forbes Breaking News. August 6, 2023

[2]Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS). https://ecowas.int

[3]Acting Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on the Situation in Niger. U.S. Department of State. August 7, 2023. tinyurl.com/546jywn5

[4]Turse, Nick. Niger Coup Leader Joins Long Line of U.S.-Trained Mutineers. The Intercept. July 27, 2023. tinyurl.com/bdr46h7d

[5]United States Africa Command. tinyurl.com/ycytzy5s

[6]Echols, Conners. What will happen to U.S. troops if the region explodes? Responsible Statecraft. August 17, 2023. tinyurl.com/3d5deznb

[7]U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa. www.usafe.af.mil

[8]Arslan, Fatma Emma. Western military presence in Niger faces uncertainty following coup. Anadolu Agency (Turkish news). August 8, 2023. tinyurl.com/yc7vkcxr

[9]Over 20 Countries Have Military Bases of Foreign Countries – Dr. Constance Ikokwu. Prime Time. Arise News. August 10, 20223. tinyurl.com/2yvkknxm

[10]Africa’s Youngest President Ibrahim Traore Of Burkina Faso Is So FEARLESS In Challenging The West THINK RICH AFRICA Youtube channel. August 9, 2023 tinyurl.com/mvfcfbe8

[11]ECOWAS should address silent coups imposed on African nations – Arikana Quao. The Morning Show. Arise News. August 17, 2023. tinyurl.com/bdez47xh


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