By Mahmoud Al-Batakoshi
Russia stands as the biggest winner amid the recent coups witnessed in the African continent, particularly in Niger and Gabon. These coups resulted in the fall of regimes aligned with the West, especially France, and concurrently led to the ascent of leaders closer to Moscow. This shift opens the door to Russian influence in the region.
A Blow to the West
Western newspapers have described recent events in the Dark Continent as a blow to Western interests in Africa. They emphasize Russia’s involvement, represented by the Wagner Group, considering Moscow to have scored a new goal against the West. The confrontation between the two sides extends beyond battlefields in Ukraine, expanding each day in the African continent.
Strategic expert Major General Jamal Taha states that recent developments in Africa are an extension of the Russian-Ukrainian war, a battleground for the conflict between the East and West. Russia, supported by China, Iran, and North Korea, attempts to overthrow the current international system. Meanwhile, the West, led by the United States and Western alliance countries, fiercely defends its survival. Thus, the war transforms into a cosmic confrontation, encompassing various fields, notably the South China Sea and Africa. In the latter, Russia expands into French-speaking colonial regions at the expense of France, a punitive measure for its strict stance on the Ukrainian war.
Contact with Wagner Group
Strategic thinker Alexander Dugin, whose dreams are turning into policies implemented by the Russian state, notes that the contact lines between Russia and the West are no longer confined to Russia’s vital sphere but extend to Africa. Russia’s interest in the continent lies in its raw materials and vast consumer markets.
The strategic expert adds that the leaders of the Niger coup did not initially have a predisposition towards Russia. Evidence of this is their response to diplomatic dialogue conducted by Washington through Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. However, their concerns about potential French and ECOWAS intervention prompted them to establish communication with Wagner. General Salou Moussa, the leader of the transitional phase, visited Mali, meeting Wagner’s militia leader to seek support. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed support for the new regime, warning that any military intervention could lead to a long-term confrontation, destabilizing the Sahel and desert regions.
Taha emphasizes that the ruling elites in the Sahel countries focused on accumulating wealth, neglecting reforms. This negligence resulted in the emergence of a nationalist spirit resistant to Western colonization among military figures. Consequently, military regimes formed in the Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, and, recently, Niger and Gabon. Given these regimes’ inability to confront Arab military bases on their soil, they turned towards Russia, transforming the region into an open field for Wagner’s forces.
Exclusion of France from Africa
The coups in Niger and Gabon have undermined the last strongholds of French influence in the continent. They allowed protesters to raise Russian flags, affirming the existence of a popular trend rejecting the West and leaning towards Moscow. The truth is that Western plunder policies encouraged Russia and China to try to fill the void. They sought to contain military regimes, representing the only national institution capable of shaking off colonial control and change.
Russia has achieved remarkable success in Central Africa, Chad, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, especially in the extraction of gold, minerals, oil, gas, and diamonds. There has also been an increase in agricultural exports, fertilizers, and the promotion of Russian products in markets with 1.3 billion consumers, contributing to economies worth three trillion dollars. In return for these benefits, Russia provides military support to secure ruling regimes and ensure their stability in the face of rebellious movements.
Eugene Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner before his elimination, participated in the Russian-African Summit in St. Petersburg. He met African leaders, conveying: “The events in Niger were part of the Russian nation’s war against colonizers.”