Soldiers in Niger have seized the president, suspended all institutions, closed the borders and declared a coup on national television. It comes after similar military putsch in Niger’s neighbours over the past few years and means that men in uniform now lord over a swath of Africa from Mali and Burkina Faso to Niger and Chad (not including Sudan, which is in the middle of a civil war between two men in uniform). As Mali pivoted towards Russia, the US and France threw their weight behind Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum (who is probably still being held in the presidential palace). He is a stalwart Western ally against the jihadist groups spreading across the Sahel, a band of countries south of the Sahara. The US has its most expensive drone base in Niger while France shifted more than 1,000 troops there after it was kicked out of Mali last year. The EU also relies heavily on Niger to keep migration numbers to Europe down. Their strategies now rest on shaky ground.
Photograph ORTN Télé Sahel/AFP via Getty Images