Friday, September 1, 2023

Algeria denies French request to fly over its airspace for Niger military operation


Algeria Rejects French Request for Military Operation in Niger

Algeria has declined a request from France to fly over its airspace for a military operation in Niger, according to state radio. This decision comes after a coup took place in Niger on July 26, which has raised concerns about stability in the region. Algeria has expressed its opposition to any foreign military intervention in Niger and instead favors diplomatic efforts to restore constitutional order.

The exact nature of the military operation that Algeria was referring to is unclear, as France has not stated its intention to intervene militarily to overturn the military takeover in Niger. However, it is worth noting that France currently has around 1,500 troops stationed in Niger, deployed prior to the coup.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the main regional bloc in West Africa, announced last week that it had agreed on a potential “D-Day” for a military intervention if diplomatic efforts fail. This escalation could further destabilize the conflict-torn and impoverished region.

In response to the coup, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council immediately suspended Niger from all African Union activities. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has expressed concerns about the possibility of an armed response, stating that it could ignite the entire Sahel region. Algeria, being a neighboring country, is worried about the potential repercussions of such a military action, including an influx of migrants into its territory.

A government source familiar with the situation told Reuters, “We are against the coup but we are against a military action that would worsen the situation in Niger and beyond in the Sahel.” Algeria’s stance reflects its commitment to stability in the region and its preference for peaceful resolutions.

France, however, has not yet responded to Algeria’s rejection of its request for airspace access. The French military presence in West Africa has faced challenges in recent years due to a series of coups in the Sahel region since 2020. French forces have been expelled from Mali and Burkina Faso, and anti-French sentiment has been growing in Niger’s capital, Niamey, since the July coup. This situation has created an opportunity for Russia to increase its influence in the region.

It is important to note that Algeria has a complicated relationship with France, its former colonial ruler. The two countries have had disputes over Sahel security, regional issues, shared history, French media coverage of Algeria, and human rights concerns. These factors may have influenced Algeria’s decision to reject France’s request for airspace access.

In conclusion, Algeria’s refusal to grant France airspace access for a military operation in Niger highlights its commitment to diplomatic solutions and its concerns about the potential consequences of military intervention. As the situation in Niger remains uncertain, it is crucial for regional and international actors to prioritize dialogue and peaceful resolutions to restore stability in the Sahel region.

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