The escalating tensions surrounding Niger’s political crisis have witnessed material support from neighboring West African nations, Mali and Burkina Faso.
As reported by Niger’s state broadcaster (ORTN) on Friday, August 18, 2023, footage showcased a significant gesture of solidarity as fighter jets from both Mali and Burkina Faso landed at a facility in Niamey, the capital of Niger.
ORTN’s Facebook post carried the video of the fighter jets’ arrival, with a caption stating that “Mali and Burkina Faso translate into concrete actions their commitments contained in their joint statement.” The statement indicated that these brotherly nations were prepared to counter any aggression against Niger.
This show of support arrives in the wake of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) issuing a threat to intervene militarily in Niger to oust the junta.
The regional bloc’s army chiefs convened in Accra from August 17 to 18 and concluded that if diplomatic efforts, set for August 19, fail to yield results, military action will be enacted through the ECOWAS standby force.
Niger’s political landscape has experienced turmoil since the coup on July 26, 2023, which deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
This marks the fifth coup in West Africa within the last three years. Mali and Burkina Faso, offering support to the Nigerien junta, have each encountered two coups during this period. Additionally, Guinea faced a coup in 2021 with the overthrow of President Alpha Conde.
While tensions heighten, analysts have noted additional intriguing elements. Social media tracking by GhanaWeb has revealed that in the ORTN broadcast, a Hürkus-C light ground attack aircraft from the Niger Air Force, manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), was sighted at Niamey airport.
The aircraft, fully equipped with a grey paint scheme and armed with an EO/IR imaging system for reconnaissance, underscores the multifaceted nature of the unfolding situation.
As West Africa navigates these challenges, the solidarity demonstrated by Mali and Burkina Faso adds another layer of complexity to a region grappling with political transitions and security concerns.