After the coup in Niger, this time the military took control of the government in Gabon, located in Central Africa. The second wave of military coups, which led to eight military coups on this continent in two years from 2021, indicates that coups are spreading and expanding throughout Africa. Perhaps the fear of this situation led the President of Rwanda on August 30th to retire or dismiss a significant number of senior officers and troops, including young forces seen among them. Therefore, Africa has now become, alongside Ukraine, a focal point of global developments, as the outcomes of these events are not confined to geographical borders, and Africa has turned into the center of anti-colonial movements, especially for Western countries, particularly France.
French colonialism began in the 16th century and lasted for approximately 300 years, primarily in West and North Africa, where about 35% of Africa’s landmass fell under French control, marked by violence and crime.
As the President of Algeria declared, during 123 years of French colonialism (1830-1962), meaning up to Algerian independence, nearly half of the country’s population fell victim to crimes that will not be forgotten over time. These crimes were so heinous that the French, during the Algerian War of Independence, would decapitate freedom fighters and put them on display with them, and today, the skulls of 18,000 Algerians are held in French museums.
France also ruthlessly suppressed the uprisings of the peoples of countries that had participated in World War II with promises of independence from that country.During both World Wars, millions of Africans were displaced due to the policies of both England and France. They were also used as forced labor to rebuild war-damaged European cities. France’s history in Africa is filled with the plunder of natural resources, torture, mass killings, and blatant human rights abuses, to which no international organization or institution has yet provided a constructive response.
After a round of coups in the 1970s and 1980s, and the fear of France and its Western accomplices losing their influence, a more modern form of colonialism was devised for Africa, under the guise of democracy and African governance, to deceive the people.
The West, led by France, attempted to place puppet governments under the banner of their legitimate civil authority, to deepen their growing influence. If a government adhered to French laws, Paris allowed it to remain in power. However, it is clear that this strategy has failed to resonate with the public and has lost its effectiveness. This period, which can be referred to as the transition period from democracy for interventionist countries like France, is coming to an end, and undoubtedly, a change in their strategy will occur.
The African Uprising Against Colonialism and Exploitation
Despite being marginalized in global equations, Africa today seeks to establish its position on the world political stage. The coups also tell the tale of a collective will in Africa against the new French colonialism and its allies. Africa, despite its rich resources and strategic mineral reserves crucial for modern technologies, has been subjected to exploitation and poverty, aimed at depriving its people of progress and plundering its natural resources through increasing influence. For instance, Gabon, a country rich in major oil wells and vast uranium reserves for nuclear fuel production in France, finds its cities in
The common denominator in these coups has largely been anti-French sentiments and a quest for liberation from Western imperialism. After coming to power, coup leaders, especially in Niger, canceled military agreements with France, cut off radio and television networks, demanded the departure of this country’s diplomats, and even legally ordered the expulsion of the ambassador by the country’s supreme court.
Africans are striving in every way to present themselves as independent decision-makers in the global governance system, and what are called coups are part of these efforts. Coups may be named after military actions, but in essence, they are movements based on the desire for freedom to cast aside governments linked to France and with the support of the people. Supportive marches for coups and anti-French slogans validate this. Therefore, these military actions can be assessed as protests against colonialism and efforts to regain the independence of these countries.
Power Blocs as Threats to the West and Future Scenarios
What concerns Western-influenced countries like France right now is not just the shortening of their reach; it’s the direct effects that the domino effect of coups has on the perception of other African societies and the motivation it will instill in them. Hence, France, along with its allies, is working to prevent the spread of coups to other countries.
The first threatening effect of these coups is that the performance of colonial governments involved in coups makes their intentions more transparent than before, leading to greater enlightenment among the African public. Therefore, Paris is trying to address the issue diplomatically. Secondly, the support of other countries, especially in the military domain, for the coup in Niger, indicates the increasing growth of coups, which can form powerful anti-Western blocs in Africa. This, alongside the coup development, can pose a serious threat to the West, especially since the fear is that blocking their influence might facilitate the infiltration of rival countries. Countries like Burkina Faso and Guinea have announced that they will face any military intervention by ECOWAS alongside Niger. Furthermore, influential countries like Algeria and Mali are also seriously opposed to military intervention.
The scenarios currently pursued by the West, primarily France, focus on military intervention under the umbrella of ECOWAS, which they are currently seriously considering. This is because a country like France, despite having thousands of military personnel in Niger, cannot overtly carry out military intervention due to a change in its intervention strategy, so they act indirectly by supporting military interventions. In this context, ECOWAS, a group of African countries, can prevent any future coups in Africa, but the problem is that military support from other countries such as Guinea and Burkina Faso to Niger can ignite a war with unpredictable dimensions, leading to detrimental outcomes for the West, especially as these disputes may trigger other coups in the midst of them, with rival actors playing roles, ultimately leading to proxy wars, especially as the Ukraine war has become an unfinished conflict, and the West is now entangled in it.
On the other hand, some countries like the United States are trying to place the coup path in their plans to stabilize governments, aiming to exploit the power vacuum. Some time ago, the American media attempted to cast doubt on the anti-colonial intentions of key figures in the Niger coup who had spent time studying in the United States, creating uncertainties.
Observing transcontinental political developments in Africa also indicates that this continent is on the path to aligning itself with a multipolar world and distancing itself from Western hegemony. The lack of alignment with the United States and NATO in the Ukraine war, which even led to the presentation of a peace plan, as well as the presence of representatives from about 40 African countries such as Mali and Guinea at the Russia-Africa summit, signifies this change. Therefore, the United States is trying to reduce the created space and strengthen its influence by establishing its strategy based on moderating interactions with Africa. To the extent that even Joe Biden, the President, introduced the “Africa-America Partnership” as a new approach of the United States.
In conclusion, the recent coups send a clear message about the end of Western hegemony in French colonies, which, with stability, can create a strategic shift for this continent alongside other developments.