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UAE’s Involvement in Supporting a New Military Coup Revealed

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Recent reports from African media outlets have shed light on the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in supporting a new military coup in Africa, raising suspicions of exerting undue influence for their own gains.

The Le Soir d’Algerie revealed that the UAE may have played a role in the attempted military coup against Niger’s President, Mohamed Bazoum.

The focus has been directed towards Niger’s current ambassador to the UAE, who previously served as the Chief of Staff of the country’s army before being dismissed by President Mohamed Bazoum.

The newspaper suggested that the presence of the former Chief of Staff in the UAE might have given him the audacity to orchestrate a coup against President Bazoum, especially with potential support from high-ranking officials in Abu Dhabi.

The Wall Street Journal connected the coup in Niger with Russia’s interests, as Russia maintains close relations with the UAE. The military coup, which took place earlier this week in Niger, poses a threat to the entire US strategy in combating “militant Islamists” expanding their influence in West Africa.

The Journal highlighted that the coup in Niger could potentially offer Russia a strategic opportunity to expand its influence in the region. The US approach has been focused on regional security, including sending American commandos to train local elite forces to counter Al-Qaeda and ISIS ideologies, which have rapidly spread from the Middle East and South Asia to the Sahel region in the past six years.

With the ongoing turmoil after military officers overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum on Wednesday, the United States finds itself constrained by American law, which prohibits providing most security assistance to military regimes.

The concern in Washington is that the coup leaders may cede more territory to militants after breaking ties with the United States and might turn to Russian mercenaries for assistance in their fight.

Bazoum, who was elected in 2021, was a key ally of the United States. The vast country in West Africa hosted American marches and commando forces that trained Nigerien special forces and advised them during combat missions against Boko Haram and local Al-Qaeda-linked groups. In 2017, four American soldiers were killed in an ambush by the Islamic State in Niger.

Since 2012, the United States has spent over $500 million to build and train Niger’s armed forces. The European Union also pledged one billion euros in aid to Niger, which helped halt the flow of migrants heading north to Libya and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Journal commented that the coups in Burkina Faso and Mali over the past two years have already disrupted the region’s American military aid. US appropriations law significantly restricts assistance to military forces that overthrow civilian governments.

A high-ranking US intelligence official stated, “Niger is the last domino we hope doesn’t fall. If it falls, I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do.”

The official added that Niger was a “key last footprint” for US and French forces in the Sahel region.

US military leaders are concerned that the coup will embolden militants, particularly Al-Qaeda, who have launched thousands of attacks in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso since 2017, and are now pressing south into the northern areas of Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin.

There is growing concern among American and Ghanaian officials that the militants are eyeing Ghana, an economic and political powerhouse in the region, with a sizable Muslim population in its relatively impoverished north.