This is a translation of 니제르 갈등에 대한 입장 in 25th Aug.
On the Niger Conflict
Defend Niger against Imperialism!
Build ‘West-African Anti-Imperialist Solidarity’ with Mali and Burkina Faso!
Niger, “super-exploitation and super-suppression” Region/ The ordeal of French imperialism after World War II/ The transition to ‘neo’ colonial rule/ Niger, neo-colony/ Separate rule of imperialism in Niger/ Working people vs. Imperialism/ The exploitation of French imperialism after independence of Niger in 1960/ French Economy and Africa/ The Bazoum regime/ The nature of the Niger coup/ Niger coup and Russia/ Our demands
On July 26, 2023, a coup ousting President Bazoum occurred in Niger, midwestern Africa.
Niger has been a French colony ever since it was colonized by France in the late 19th century. It has been super-exploited through brutal and barbaric imperial repression. Bazoum, ousted in the coup, is a domestic servant who helps French imperialist interests.
Immediately after taking power, coup-led forces led by Abdourahamane Tchiani (also known as “Omar”) took measures to block the super-exploitation and political influence of French imperialism. On August 1, they suspended uranium exports to France, and on August 4, they broke the military agreement signed with France. On the same day, they also blocked French broadcasting.
These measures gained the support of the military and a large number of local working people. A number of Nigerians took to the streets to welcome the military coup and demonstrate in support of the new regime’s anti-imperialist measures. On July 30, four days after the coup, protesters set fire to the French embassy.
“Down with imperialism!”
Niger coup: Thousands march to support junta
Mali and Burkina Faso, which border with Niger, are also long-time French colonies. Similar anti-imperialist political upheavals occurred in these countries in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Mali and Burkina Faso expressed their intention to defend Niger. They vowed to defend Niger against imperialist military intervention.
On the other hand, French and US imperialism were immediately hostile to the coup. Imperialism has taken a sneaky route by putting Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) at the forefront, because they are afraid that their direct involvement would stimulate the anti-imperialist sentiment of the African people too much. ECOWAS, formed in 1975, is an organization of colonial countries of the imperialist powers, including Nigeria, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau. ECOWAS suspended the membership of Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger, where anti-imperialist regime change took place. To Niger, ECOWAS sent an ultimatum that if Niger do not restore the former regime, they will militarily intervene.
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We Bolshevik Group belives that the coup that took place in July 2023 reflects the will to resist of the Niger people, who has long been dominated by imperialist aggression. In this regard, we acknowledge that the coup and the resulting regime change are anti-imperialist and progressive. Based on this recognition, we support the ‘defeat of imperialism and the victory of anti-imperialist resistance’ in the Niger conflict that has been and will unfold.
Niger is an area of imperialist exploitation. From the end of the 19th century to 1960, Niger was under direct French imperialism. France brutally suppressed and exploited the working people of West Africa, including Niger. Some of the horrors can be seen in the following article.
The tales of French colonization of West Africa are perhaps some of the most harrowing and chilling stories in the history of mankind. The French were notorious for resorting to extremely cruel and inhumane methods when things didn’t go their way. They stripped African people of their clothes, put heavy chains on them, clipped their body parts to the wall, raped their women and children and tortured them in ways unimaginable.
We do not have to go far in history to encounter a horrifying act by the French like how they used bones of Algerian people to make soap. France has committed enough crimes in the recent past for us to fill up the entire page.
During its one and a half centuries of direct colonialism, France has killed hundreds of thousands of African people for different reasons. For instance, on the morning of December 1, 1944, French forces committed The Thiaroye massacre. They killed hundreds of Senegalese soldiers returning home after fighting in the World War 2, once the soldiers demanded personal rights and payment. It was as if Senegalese people should have felt honored to simply fight and die for France in the war, and they were not allowed to ask for anything more.
It is important to note that France has never paid compensation for any of the inhumane crimes it has committed. If you ask a French person today, they might laud their ancestors for bringing “modernism” to Africa and helping the people of the continent become more “humane”. As various renowned writers and historians have pointed out, this notion that non-Western people are lesser than, still prevails throughout Europe and the U.S.—Niger coup: End of democracy or end of French colonialism?
French imperialism, which put all its energy into World War II, a battle between imperialist states, was greatly weakened. But France had no intention of quitting its colonial rule. France tried to bring troops back to the existing colonies and continue to be their master.
But things didn’t work out as France wanted. This was because the colonial working people’s resistance against imperialism intensified, while imperialist control weakened.
In 1954, in the First Indochina War, France was defeated in the war against the Vietnamese people. The news of France’s defeat and Vietnam’s victory boosted the morale of the Algerian people under French colonial rule. The Algerian people fought harder, claiming independence from France. The anti-imperialist civil war began in Algeria in 1954. To make matters worse, in 1956, France fought the Second Middle East War with Britan and Israel against Nasser’s Egypt, only to be defeated again.
Hit hard by the imperialist war, France was further plagued by defeats in Vietnam and Egypt, and a protracted war in Algeria. A power relationship was created in which unilateral rule of imperialism could not be allowed. It became impossible to directly rule by dispatching French governors and troops, that is, through “traditional” colonial rule. It was inevitable to allow political independence of the colonial region, albeit formally.
But the essence of imperialism is the domination of financial capital. As long as the economic domination of financial capital continues, imperialism domination remains intact. Imperialist financial capital, which seizes the local industrial network, uses the power of capital in order to take control of the local economy. Then, with the power of money, the local political, military, and cultural elites are recruited to organize a pro-imperialist net. In this way, a local governing group serving for the interests of financial capital is established. Imperialism moved to the era of so-called neocolonial rule, which is “indirectly colonial rule”, or “allowing formal political independence, but more subtle and covertly controlling colonies by the power of capital.”
Since 1958, France has allowed West African colonies the self-determination. Several countires, including Guinea, Niger, Haute Volta (now Burkina Faso) and Mali, gained independence during this period. Algeria, which won after eight-years of anti-imperialist civil war, joined the ranks in 1962.
But political independence was perfunctory. The chain of imperialist super-exploitation and super-suppression has not been broken.
The first president of Niger, which gained independence in 1960, was Hamani Diori. He was a French imperialist puppet. He represented a highly corrupt pro-imperialist political group. The people were angry at Diori. This outrage led to a coup attempt in 1963 and an assassination attempt in 1965. But both failed. Diori violently suppressed student and worker's protests with the support of French imperialism.
‘Divide and rule’ is the basis of class rule. It is also a universal way of imperialist colonial rule. For colonial rule, imperialism carefully studies local history and culture. Through this, it finds anything that the oppressed people can fight against each other, such as “region, ethnicity, tribe, religion, gender, etc.” Then, it artificially encourages the conflict by mobilizing politics, education, media and violent events. In the process, the tiny difference between each other, who have lived together for a long time, widens like the enemies who cannot live beneath one sky.
Through this artificial conflict created by the ruling class, class rule and imperialist tyranny are hidden behind. While the oppressed people fight harshly against each other in the trap of ‘divide and rule’ dug by the ruling class, the ruling class leisurely avoids the spearhead of resistance.
The same is true of French imperialism’s rule in Africa. The Niger majority are the Hausa. However, French imperialism intentionally took the minority tribes of the Djerma, Songhai, and Maouri as its governing partners. France forced these minority tribes to suppress the majority, including the Hausa. Conflicts between tribes in Africa have the background of this imperialist domination.
The ruling of the local servant pandering to imperialism inevitably loses the support of the people. They are inevitably an anti-people group because they execute imperialist super-exploitation and super-oppression locally, and as a result, they are inevitably a corruption group that pursue only their own interest.
In colonial areas at a time when the working class have not grown enough, some students or military factions represent pressure from the working people, against imperialism. Some students or the military personel are self-confessed political elites who lead society in a progressive direction. This is true of Gadhafi in Libya and Chavez in Venezuela. There have also been several coups in Niger against French imperialism. Nigerian working people, who have long suffered from the super-exploitation of imperialism, sometimes discover their political orientation through the coup.
Meanwhile, when this anti-imperialist regime change occurred, French imperialism immediately intervened to regain its influence over Niger, re-establishing a pro-imperialist regime using selfish and corrupt local subordinates. Violent regime change frequently occurred in African colonies due to the conflict and dynamics between the two forces, imperialism and the working people who resisted imperialism.
French imperialism continued to exploit natural resources after Niger's independence, even as Niger's domestic politics continued to wobble because of dynamics between imperialism and the people.
Uranium was discovered in Niger in 1978. Niger, along with Kazakhstan and Russia, ranks the top three countries in uranium supply. The discovery of uranium has increased Niger's economic value. But uranium is owned by French finance capital. 63.4% of the stake in the Niger uranium mine “Somair” belongs to French nuclear power company “Orano.” Only the remaining 36.6% are owned by the Niger government. Most of the profits from mineral resources go to French finance capital. Some of the rest of the profits go to Niger's privileged minority, the imperialist puppets.
The hard life of the working people of Niger remains. Two out of five working people live on less than $2.15 a day. An anti-French protester says the Nigerians are so poor that they can't even eat three meals a day because of French looting.(Hankook Ilbo August 2, 2023.).
"Don't worry, Africa. We’ll go away when we finish"
The percentage of nuclear power in power generation in Europe is 25%, while that in France is 70%. And at least 20% of France's nuclear power is based on uranium extracted from West Africa. If Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are out of French control, the French economy will be hit hard.(Niger coup: End of democracy or end of French colonialism?).
France imposed a currency called the “CFA (African Financial Community) franc” on West Africa. Like the U.S. dollar, which is forced into a key currency, it is a major tool of French hegemony over the West African economy.
The most enduring legacy of Gallic colonialism is the CFA (African Financial Community) franc – a currency once pegged to the French franc, and now to the euro. It gives France monetary hegemony over several African states, including Niger.
The US has always supported such exploitative arrangements, originally because former French colonies were seen as bastions against the geopolitical and ideological influence of the Soviet Union during the cold war. The notion of France being the “Gendarme of Africa” now extends to it playing a vital role in the fight against terrorist insurgents such as al-Qaida in the vast Sahel region, which straddles around a dozen countries from Eritrea to Senegal, via Niger.—The Niger crisis shows France’s quasi-empire in Africa is finally crumbling
President Bazoum, ousted in a coup on 26 July 2023, is a local servant serving French imperialism. President Bazoum consistently antagonized the anti-imperialist protests of the working people and served in the interests of French imperialism.
The working people opposed the French presence in Niger. However, President Bazoum called on France to redeploy French troops from Mali and Burkina Faso to Niger. The Niger people demonstrated against it. The government then put down the protest leader for nine months on charges of “disrupting public order.”(Hankook Ilbo August 2, 2023.).
The coup, which took place on 26 July 2023, detained pro-French imperialist President Bazoum, and implemented measures such as suspending uranium exports to France, breaking military agreements with France, and blocking French broadcasting. In that sense, the coup is anti-imperialist.
However, the military leaders who make up the coup government, including General Abdourahamane Tchianii, Colonel Amadou Abdramaneand and General Salifou Modi, are all those who served under pro-imperialist regimes. When the pro-imperialist regime lost the support of the people, it took advantage of the Niger people's desire to liberate anti-imperialism and staged a coup.
The Niger coup government is a nationalist left-wing government that often appears in colonies. It is a type of political force, equivalent to Chiang Kai-shek in China, Nasser in Egypt, Gadhafi in Libya, and Khomeini in Iran. Under the pressure of both imperialism and anti-imperialism of the local working people, they rise to power. Standing on the point of balance between imperialism and the colonial people, it comes under pressure from both sides. Depending on the situation and the dynamics, sometimes it represents the pressure on the left and sometimes on the right, and transmits the pressure to the other side.
Colonial nationalist leftists ‘partially and temporarily’ represent local anti-imperialist aspirations. But they are not ‘working class, socialist’ leadership, which can consistently be anti-imperialist. It's bourgeois. Therefore, their reaction is inevitable.
In that sense, the working class is with this force now, in the state of fighting imperialism. At the same time, however, the working class does not rule out inevitable departure and betrayal of this force in the future. The socialist leadership of the working class that exists now or will be formed in the future never fantasizes about this force.
The Russian government euphemistically warned of imperialist military intervention with the expression, “We must resolve conflicts through dialogue instead of violence.” The Wagner Group, however, supported the Niger coup in a more explicit way of describing it as an “attack on colonialists.” At the July 30 coup demonstration against the French Embassy, slogans such as “Long live Russia” and “Long live Putin” were also issued.
“Down with France! Long live Putin!”
Niger's “anti-French protest” was strong because of its “pain in the past history”
But Russia's Putin is also a colonial nationalist left-wing regime. It's a capitalist regime, not a workers'. We have explained this point several times in our previous article.
Even in colonies, especially in colonies with vast natural resources, Bonapartist power often emerged against imperialist aggression.…Venezuela after Chavez, Libya during Qaddafi, Iran after the 1979 revolution, Syria in Assad, and now Putin's Russian regime are these colonial Bonapartist regimes. These regimes, on the one hand, serve as a link to the world's capitalist exploitation system and at the same time defend their resource-rich interests against imperialism.—Ukraine war, Opportunism and the Working Class
Russian capitalists, including Putin, were pro-Western and even had a naive fantasy of becoming partners with the U.S. in global operations. The decisive awakening of Russia was the 2013–14 Ukraine crisis. After the former Soviet-influenced countries fell into the hands of the United States one after another, they could no longer sit by and watch as countries become Russia’s enemies. The teeth became very cold when the lips were damaged, just like the old saying.
Russia finally moved in 2015 at the request of Syria’s Assad regime, which has been suffering from a U.S.-led regime change since 2011. Along with Iran, which was suffering from the same situation, Russia sent troops to Syria to defend the Assad regime. It realized that if it want to protect its teeth, it have to protect its lips first.—On the Belarusian Crisis
Our position toward Russia in support of the Niger coup is the same as that toward the Niger military government described above. ‘Fight together now, but no illusions. Deviation and betrayal are inevitable, and the political independence of the working class is vital.’
—Defend Niger from Imperialism!
—Build the 'anti-imperialist solidarity' of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and expand it across Africa!
—The ultimate liberation from imperialism is only possible with socialism that abolish private property. From anti-imperialist victory to worker's government and abolition of private property!
—Build a working class revolutionary party based on Lenin and Trotsky's permanent revolution program!