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Weingarten: On the crisis in Africa

More developments out of a war stricken continent
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Courtesy of James Wiseman
Now, a similar political conflict in Niger is on the horizon, which everyone should be concerned about. 

Browsing the headlines, it appears the current crisis in Niger isn’t being covered as much as it should. The restless conflicts have ravaged a continent gutted by centuries of exploitation and oppression. Now, a similar political conflict in Niger is on the horizon, which everyone should be concerned about. 

With a brutal war already taking place in Sudan, where “nearly four months of violent street battles between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary known as the Rapid Support Forces” has been transpiring, causing death among the civilians so severe that it has “made funerals a near impossibility in Khartoum.” 

That isn’t all. The Western bloc of Africa is planning an invasion of Niger in light of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. ECOWAS (Economic Community of Western African States) advised the junta of Niger to reinstate Bazoum as president immediately, or else there would be harsh consequences. To no surprise, the coup leaders are not shying away from the challenge. 

This story took an even more complicated twist when a few days ago, the Niger junta announced they had compelling enough evidence to charge Bazoum with high treason. 

The United States and many European countries such as France have chosen to condemn the coup and lead a relatively hands-off approach. The United States sent an envoy to try and reason with the junta, but it has made it very clear that restoring the democratic order is preferable. 

However, countries like Russia have been involved as well. According to a transcript found on the mercenary group Wagner’s communication network, Yevgeny Prigozhin (the same leader who attempted to overthrow Putin this past summer) has lauded Russia’s support to the African people. Prigozhin says, “Russia today offers both…economic relations and security exports, without which Africa cannot exist.”

It is no surprise he is attempting to credit the Kremlin agenda. Although they have a rocky past, Prigozhin is an international asset to Putin. 

According to a Reuters article, Prigozhin has been in Russia multiple times since his failed fiasco, indicating that Prigozhin and Putin have rapidly set aside their differences. With the wartime opportunity to capitalize, Putin is likely utilizing Wagner’s services. This would not be surprising as Wagner has been active in Africa for a long time. 

An article uploaded by the Associated Press claims that “The Wagner group brutalizes civilians in the Central African Republic, Mali, and elsewhere to crush dissent and fend off threats to their leaders’ power. In exchange, Russia gains access to natural resources and ports through which weapons can be shipped, and receives payments that enrich the Kremlin and help it fund operations elsewhere, including the war in Ukraine.” 

The cover image in the same article referenced in the previous paragraph explains the story. The Malian flag is coupled with the Russian flag, representing the desire to be detached from the imperialist West.

The current wars in Africa are proving to be turbulent. A likely economic race between Russia and the West will continue to spur to drastic proportions, and, as a result, more bodies are piling up in the roads and fields of the beautiful African cities and countryside, reflecting the complicated nature of doing business. 

An all too common and unfortunate theme. 

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