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By Dave Van Zandt

Former French colonies in West Africa, including Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Chad, share a history marked by French exploitation and intervention. This shared past has fostered a growing anti-French sentiment, particularly due to France’s military exploits in the region. A common thread among these nations is the occurrence of military coups, often seen as a reflection of internal instability and external influences.

Recently, these countries have shown a desire to distance themselves from their former colonizers and other Western nations. This is evident in actions such as halting military cooperation and withdrawing foreign military forces. For instance, following a military coup in Niger, the country suspended its military ties with the US and France. This move was supported by neighboring countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, further highlighting the region’s collective stance against foreign interference.  

The latest developments in Niger, where the public rallied behind the military government, underscore the region’s apprehension towards external intervention. Mali’s stern response to potential ECOWAS intervention in Niger is a testament to the growing sentiment that these nations are ready to defend their sovereignty and are wary of any form of neo-colonial influence. 

This background paints a picture of a region striving for autonomy, wary of its colonial past, and united in its stance against foreign military presence.

However, there’s a twist in the tale. While these nations are distancing themselves from Western powers, they are showing an inclination toward Russian engagement. This shift towards Russia might not be due to a preference for them but rather as a response to the West. The recent coup attempts and political shifts in the Sahel region, especially in countries like Mali and Niger, have opened doors for increased Russian influence, particularly in military support and resource extraction.


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