Like all landlocked Sahel countries, Niger spends most of its days out of sight, floating in isolation, suffering extreme poverty under which about half of its population lives, and a birth rate among the highest in the world, and waiting for foreign aid to cover the wages of its public employees and the rest of its public expenses. Niger rarely makes the headlines in conjunction with security crises, hunger waves, kidnapping of Western nationals, military coups, or armed rebellion by the Tuareg and Tebu minorities. This year, Niger was the target of a long meeting with bulletin headlines, during which major international media outlets and study centers struggled to understand this country, the mechanisms of the struggle for power, its elite industry, public opinion, and the contexts of this coup.
If political analysts and observers explain any military coup or power struggle that breaks out these days in the West Africa and Sahel region based on the France-Russia duality, and despite the centrality of the alliance with Russia in consolidating the foundations of the two Western-rejected coup authorities in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, then Niger’s recent coup was essentially an expression of a set of specific local contradictions that shaped the history of the struggle for power and set the tone for the political and security unrest in this country with vital resources for the former colonialist, France, and with a long experience with armed conflicts, droughts, and hunger.
On the edge of the desert between the Songhai and Kanem-Borno empires: waiting for Niger
The national narrative in Niger, like all African historical narratives, does not exaggerate in what arose on its lands, or touched from afar on its borders of countries and empires, in order to “justify” its existence as the end of a natural process and a contemporary political expression of a bygone historical moment or the resurgence of a bygone temporal authority undermined by colonialism. Or exhausted by the slave trade. Thus, Nigerien historians (Salifou 2002, as an example) (1) extend their hands westward towards the Songhai Empire, whose capital was Gao in the Malian lands, in order to place their country on the board of the history of Sudan and separate it from the exploits of the great African empires, and for this they beg for a strong presence of the Zarma-Songhai immigrants in ancient times from Mali to their current homeland in southwestern Niger, and a role, not recognized by some historians such as Fogelstad (1986) (2)It was undertaken by the Dundee region in the west of the country in resisting the Saadian advance towards the southernmost outskirts of the Songhai Empire at the end of the sixteenth century. Thus, General Abderrahmane Tiani mentioned the name of Askia Mohammed, the most famous leader of the Songhai Empire, while threatening the ECOWAS countries with a decisive response if they intervene militarily to restore President Bazoum to power, the flags of Niger and its historical heroes on the evening of August 20, 2023 (3 ) .
As for the most important political authority in central Sudan, the Sultanate of Kanem-Borno (Kanem and its historical successor, Borno), despite its long existence extending from the ninth century to the twentieth on the lands of Chad and Fezzan in the north in Libya and Sao in the south in Cameroon, it did not effectively extend its authority over the space that would constitute a state. Niger, if we exclude the eastern and southeastern strip of the country. The land of Niger did not witness a political or military organization comparable to the strength of the two aforementioned empires, although authorities with limited influence and scope arose on its lands. This indicates, according to Vogelstad, that “the endemic communities in these areas were loosely connected […] and more ‘chaotic’ than the neighboring communities […] and that the areas within the current borders of Niger remained less populated, with empty areas And jungles until the nineteenth century, at least” (4) .
The political organization of the Hausa-speaking country (Kasar Hausa) in Niger was often confined to powers of limited space and wealth. No Hausi authority was established on the land of Niger comparable to the Hausi Sultanate of Kano in Nigeria, which was of great importance and played a pivotal role in the west of the continent. The Sultanate of Ayr was established by various groups of Tuareg who, according to Orvoi (1934), were involved in three confederations: Isandalan, Kul Agras, and Kul Awi, in a constant struggle over resources and influence.
From the Emirate of Kano to the west, which Islam arrived at the hands of the Wangara Manding merchants, in the middle of the fifteenth century, Islam will spread in Hausa-speaking countries, according to most scholars of this subject. This event coincided, as Levitson (2000) reports, with the displacement of the Sifawa dynasty from Kanem to Borno, moving closer to Hausa land and supporting this Islamization, which was limited in its beginnings to the courts of the rulers, before it was strengthened with the Fulani delegations, whose jihadist movements would contribute to the efforts of Usman Dan Fodio. In deeply integrating Islam into the Hausite identity (5) .
Charlake asserts that “Islam is a force of integration that is attributed to its contribution to overcoming ethnic differences” in Niger (6) . The exit of Nigerians from the mosques following the massacre of students, in 1990, was an embodiment of the position that Islam occupies in Niger, and the matter is being repeated now in the demonstrations rejecting the intervention of ECOWAS in the country and supporting the military junta in the country. The favor that the delegation of Nigerian scholars had with the ruling military junta, after it refused to receive an official delegation from ECOWAS, the African Union, and the United Nations, and the supplication gatherings that have taken place in the mosques of the capital, Niamey, since the coup, are examples of this pivotal role of the Islamic religion in the lives of Nigerians.
Does the randomness of Niger’s borders have any limits?
From afar, Niger’s borders appear to be merely absurd lines established by rounds of conflict and negotiations between European powers as they defend each other while controlling Africa, without taking into account any historical, ethnic, linguistic, or geographical facts. Despite this prevailing belief in the randomness of the borders drawn by the colonizer and the severing of African peoples and political and social structures, which is reinforced by the Hausa case in particular, the Hausa of Niger, although they formed, and continue to form, with the Hausa of Nigeria, an ethnic, linguistic, and religious extension within what is known as the historical Hausa country, They had taken a different path from their brothers in the south a century before the arrival of colonialism. The Nigerian part of Hausa country remained untouched by the direct domination of the Islamic Emirate of Sokoto, which succeeded the historic Hausa Sultanate of Kano following the Fulani-Hausa jihad campaigns led by Usman Dan Fodio in the early nineteenth century.(7) .
Those who seek to criticize the widespread saying: “The absurdity of African borders,” which is labeled in national discourse as ominous, and which is constantly blamed by some Third World intellectuals for the development failures and bloody conflicts their countries suffer from, do not lack a distinction of sorts with which to justify the division of the Tuareg space between Mali and Niger on the one hand, and Algeria and Niger on the other. Lefebvre presents, for example, the barren space (Tenéri) separating the domain of the Ayr-Tuareg Sultanate from the influence of the leader (Amnocle) of the Haggar, as a natural, historical and economic barrier that France adopted to make it a border “between two administrations subject to two separate military authorities. Algeria was subject to the Ministry of the Interior[…] while it was Niger is part of the Colonial Office” (8) .
If the Iulmden tribe now appears to be divided between Niger and Mali, the history of the separation of its two branches dates back to the eighteenth century, as conveyed by Grimmond (2010), mentioning the name of the Iulmden who are in Niger and are known as the Kul Deng (people of the East) and the Kul Atram (people of the West) who live In Mali, as a pre-colonial expression of this differentiation and separation (9) .
Although devastating droughts and long centuries of Tuareg control over the Ayr region in northern Niger have reduced the Hausa numbers in the region, and created what resembles an ethnic separation between the south and north of the country, historians of the national narrative in Niger (Hamani, 1989) still look at the Ayr, or What the Hausa call Abzim, as the cradle of most of the peoples who now inhabit the land of Niger (10) .
If the Hausa, Zarma-Songai, Tuareg, Fulfulde, Kanuri, and then the Tebu and Arabs to a lesser extent, constitute the most prominent nationalities inhabiting Niger, then Ibrahim points to the emergence of fluid hybrid nationalities that were born through centuries of ethnic and linguistic interaction, migrations and wars, and expressed this long-term coexistence. (11) . In Niger, the ethnic difference also appears in a clear regional guise between the West, which has a Zarmi-Songwa majority, and the East, which may be used to refer to all non-Western regions inhabited by the Hausa, Tuareg, and others.
And over this vast area of Niger, extending over more than one million and two hundred square kilometers, and inhabited by multiple nationalities, France will extend its authority, “accidentally,” as Kemba conveys, “Niger, in its essence, will always remain a complementary element in the construction of the French empire in Africa,” and linking the connections of this The vast empire did not have any significant economic resources during the days of colonialism (12) .
France, as Lefebvre (2015) narrates, will rely on a limited number of military personnel to consolidate its rule over Niger, so that Niger will take its current form after eliminating the Zarma resistance in the west and suppressing the Tuareg revolts in the north, and following long rounds of administrative division, re-division, and merging of parts of Mali ( Gao and Timbuktu regions) and later separated (13) . The most prominent change in the course of the Niger colony, which was administered within French West Africa, was the final transfer of its capital from Zindar in the heart of Hausa country in the south to Niamey in the Zarma stronghold in the west of the country, in 1926.
A long path to seizing power from the hands of the Zarma-Songhai
Niger will follow a path similar to that of the rest of the colonies of “French West Africa” and will remain within the French group established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, in 1958, until it gains independence on August 3, 1960. France will leave this country on the eve of its departure from it only a simple administrative apparatus and meager facilities. A very critical political and social equation generated by decades of colonial practices that excluded the Hausa majority from the administration’s wheels, and empowered the Zarma-Songai nationalism, especially after the capital was moved to their strongholds, and kept the Tuareg, Flan, and other nationalities on the margins of political action. “The French found,” Charlick (1991, p. 9) reports, “relatively easy to subjugate the Zarma, whose non-state political structures and internal divisions made them particularly vulnerable to divide and rule.”(14) .
As for the Hausas, they will pay the price for what Charlake considered their conservative stance towards the French school and other colonial institutions, and neither their demographic weight (52% of the population) nor their great economic potential resulting from the trade network, and also smuggling, across the Niger-Nigeria border extending over more than a thousand km in taking control of independent Niger.
During the first three decades of independent Niger, most senior political positions, especially the presidency, remained the domain of the Zarma-Songai, who represent only about 22%. The Zarma-Songai control over the reins of Niger’s affairs was unambiguously demonstrated in the conflict that took place in the two periods, before and after independence, between Hamani Diori, the first president of Niger, and his relative, Djibo Bakare, both of whom belonged to the Zarma-Songai.
Neither the Hausa nor the Tuareg had any significant presence in this political scramble for the hierarchy of power in the then-nascent country. Rather, the Hausa had to join the revolutionary-oriented “Sawaba” party, led by Bakari, as an expression of their rejection of the status quo. This conflict was similar to what the countries of the French group witnessed between left-leaning or African nationalist movements and those conservative ones close to the colonial administration, and the victory in Niger, like all countries of this group with the exception of Guinea Conakry, was for those loyal to France. This victory in Niger was embodied in the victory of Hamani Diori’s proposal calling for remaining within the French group in the 1958 referendum, making him the country’s first president after independence in 1960 ( 15) .
The coup of Lieutenant Colonel Seni Conte, who overthrew President Diori in 1974, established the control of the Zarma-Songhai in the form of a military iron fist for this nationality, whose regions in the west of the country around the capital, Niamey, accounted for most of the meager construction and development projects in Niger. Kunte’s death in 1987 did not remove the power of the Zarma-Songai; He was succeeded by a colonel of the same nationality, Ali Sibo, who began to ease the burden on political opponents, despite maintaining the one-party system, and created a new constitution that inaugurated what is known in the political and constitutional history of Niger as the Second Republic (16 ) .
Student and trade union demonstrations that took place in Niger following what is known as Black Friday, on February 8, 1990, during which the police killed 14 student demonstrators at the University of Niamey, will cut the nails of Ali Sibou and force him to accelerate the procedures for democratizing the country. The killing of these students was the spark of a radical transformation that ultimately led to holding a national conference and writing a new constitution that recognized political pluralism and gave the country the first elected president in its history, Mohamed Othman, in 1993, dedicating the Constitution of the Third Republic.
The election of Mohamman Othman, of mixed Kanuri-Hausa origins, from the far south-east of the country, and as head of the Democratic and Social Charter Party, which is widely popular among the Hausas, especially capital owners among them, represented, as Ibrahim and Sule (1998) report, an end to the exclusivity of the Zarma. The Songhai rule Niger, and a democratic arc that was closed by a military coup, in 1996, led by General, Mainsara Barry, of Hausa origins, who rewrote the country’s constitution (the Fourth Republic) and was elected in the same year as president before he died while preparing to leave the country at the capital’s airport during a military coup. Daoud brought Malam Wonki, who belongs to the same nationality, to power in 1999 (17) .
With Wonke, Niger will attempt to return to the democratic path with the establishment of the foundations of the Fifth Republic, and the election of Mamadou Tandja, of Mauritanian Sonunkian origins who comes from the Fulani-Kanuri region in the far east of the country, as president of the country. With the end of Tanga’s second term and his effort to continue ruling the country through a constitutional amendment that abolished the limitation of presidential states to two, a military coup, in 2010, aborted his efforts to achieve these changes, which became known as the Sixth Republic. Colonel Salo Djibo, the leader of the coup, announced a new transitional phase that crowned a political and trade union path. Long-time leader of the left-leaning Hausa-majority Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism, Mahamadou Issoufou, assumed the country’s presidency, in April 2011.
What distinguishes this turbulent political path, if we look at it from an ethnic angle, is that the ballot boxes remained faithful to the ethnic equation, as they did not bring to power any candidate belonging to the Zarma-Songai ethnicity or to their western regions. Since the first multiparty elections, in 1993, the Hausas have succeeded in removing the dominance of the Zarma, although during these elections they were forced to mitigate the intensity of the Hausa in their candidate by choosing a person of mixed Kanuri-Hausa origins, Mohamman Othman, who headed the National Movement Party.
The coup that overthrew President Osman in 1996, and the subsequent coup in 1993, were an expression of the steady rise of the Hausa in the upper ranks of the army and the accumulation of wealth among their businessmen. Although the National Movement for Society and Development Party, which was established by the military president, Ali Sibu, at the end of the 1980s, remained, according to what Ibrahim and Sule (1998) see, an expression of the aspirations of the Zarma-Songhai political and administrative elites, and it was able to reach power in the 1999 elections, His winning candidate in these elections, Mamadou Tandja, was of Sonong-Mauritanian origins, although he grew up in central Fulani Kanuri. He was born in the far south-east of the country, far from the strongholds of the Zarma-Songai in the west of the country, far from the strongholds of the Zarma-Songai in the west (18 ) .
The rule of Colonel Salo Djibo, of mixed Zarmi-Songwa origins, who overthrew Tanga, did not last long. In 2011, he handed over power to an elected civilian president, Mahamadou Issoufou. If the latter belongs to the Hausa, his party, the Nigerian Party for Democracy and Socialism, was distinguished by a different path, an impeccable left-wing national background, and an experience accumulated by the party’s leaders through Marxist student struggles and vigorous trade union activity, even though most of its leaders were involved in the accumulation of wealth and a life of extravagance in a way. Clearly. The party’s selection of Bazoum, who belongs to the Arab minority, as a candidate for the 2020 presidential elections has added credibility to this cross-ethnic and cross-national ideological trend. In order to alleviate what appeared with the coup of General Abderrahmane Tiani as the exclusion of minorities in the coup against Bazoum, the ruling military council announced the appointment of a first minister from the Tebu minority, the former Minister of Economy, Ali Mohamed El Amin El Zein.
The Tuareg revolution and its support among the Tebu
The course of the ethnic conflict in Niger was not at all a pure victory between the Zarma-Songai and the Hausa. Rather, the Tuareg revolution, and its companion, the Tebu revolution, were the most prominent features of ethnic fragmentation in this country since the mid-eighties. The Tuareg revolution dominated the scene in Niger at the beginning of the nineties, coinciding with the beginning of the democratic process and the holding of the National Conference that seized power from Ali Saibu and held democratic elections, the first of their kind in Niger, in 1993. This revolution came as a result of a number of changes brought about by the arrival of Colonel Gaddafi. To power in Libya at the end of the sixties, and the beginning of the export of uranium in the Arlit mines in northern Niger at the beginning of the nineties, and successive droughts witnessed in the last three decades of the twentieth century, which had profound consequences on the social structures of the Tuareg.
Gaddafi’s establishment of the Islamic battalion, which would play a prominent role in his intervention in Chad in the early eighties, represented the beginnings of the militarization of the Touareg and Tebu of the Sahara in the era of the national state, and a restoration of long-standing military traditions of the long journeys and tours that these two nationalities fought in the southern fringes of the Sahara during the pre-colonial eras. The failed coup attempt against Seni Conte in 1976, which Gaddafi is accused of supporting, and which was carried out by individuals from the Arabs and Tuareg, and Libya’s issuance in the same year of a map of itself that annexed parts of the territory of Niger, was a confirmation of this growing role for Libya in the affairs of its southern neighbors (Chad, Niger, and then the Republic of Central Africa) and an expression of the crystallizing political ambitions of the Tuareg of Niger and Mali, and their close relationship with the Libyan Colonel (19) .
The drought waves that led to tens of thousands of Tuareg taking refuge in Libya and Algeria, after the death of their livestock herds, deepened the Tuareg alienation towards Niamey and its military rulers, and contributed to weaving their oppression and building their narrative regarding the Tuareg diaspora between countries and unifying their feeling of the tragedy. The drought waves of 1973 and 1984, as Gregoire (1999) reports, were the most dangerous of these waves, and they came after the disintegration of Tuareg structures and relations as a result of decades of colonialism and the establishment of the national state. What has caused the Tuareg community to lose its traditional means of resilience and resilience in the face of these major ecological changes. The repatriation of Tuareg refugees from drought waves to Algeria and Libya, which was supervised by Colonel Ali Sibou, at the end of the eighties, will not succeed in quelling the outburst of anger that had formed in them as a result of what they saw as Niamey’s neglect of their tragedy. Rather, the young people returning from exile will constitute the fuel of this revolution that was launched. The first bullet was fired in 1985 in Qin Tabardin, then the same process was repeated in the same place, in 1990, marking the actual beginning of this rebellion. This region, located in the far north of the country, included thousands of returnees from Libya and Algeria and displaced people from other regions in gatherings to receive aid provided by international relief organizations and international donors. Attacks against the Nigerian army and its positions will increase after the establishment of the FLAA in 1991, headed by Gissi Ag Bola, from which the Identity Liberation Front will split two years later, headed by Manu Diak, who died in a helicopter crash, in 1995, during its take-off from the city of Agadez to Niamey. This region, located in the far north of the country, included thousands of returnees from Libya and Algeria and displaced people from other regions in gatherings to receive aid provided by international relief organizations and international donors. Attacks against the Nigerian army and its positions will increase after the establishment of the FLAA in 1991, headed by Gissi Ag Bola, from which the Identity Liberation Front will split two years later, headed by Manu Diak, who died in a helicopter crash, in 1995, during its take-off from the city of Agadez to Niamey. This region, located in the far north of the country, included thousands of returnees from Libya and Algeria and displaced people from other regions in gatherings to receive aid provided by international relief organizations and international donors. Attacks against the Nigerian army and its positions will increase after the establishment of the FLAA in 1991, headed by Gissi Ag Bola, from which the Identity Liberation Front will split two years later, headed by Manu Diak, who died in a helicopter crash, in 1995, during its take-off from the city of Agadez to Niamey.(20) .
The battles between the Tuareg rebels and the Nigerian army were not more fierce than the journalistic and academic battles waged by the Tuareg and their supporters, French journalists and academics, in support of this revolution against the official Nigerian theses and the intellectuals and academics who adopted them in Niamey. The dissatisfaction of some Nigerien intellectuals (Salifou, 1993 and Djibo, 2002 as an example) is clear at what they consider to be severe prejudice against the Nigerien state and biased support for the Tuareg separatist theses, which overshadowed the French press and French academia’s (Alain Claude-Hoade as an example) treatment of the Tuareg rebellion in Niger in the 1990s. These two authors recount what they see as a strong presence of the Tuareg in the administrative apparatus of the Nigerian state since its inception, represented by the appointment of a special Tuareg minister for the desert regions, and the appointment of the Tuareg, Hamid al-Ghabid, as prime minister, in 1983. They argue that the yoke of the military regimes in Niger was not a tragedy specific to the Tuareg. Rather, it included all nationalities and races. Salifou’s book, The Tuareg Question in Niger, represents a rebuttal of the thesis of the Tuareg revolutionary Manu Dayack, which he wrote in his book I Was Born with Sand in My Eyes, which can be considered the manifesto of this revolution. This book, and the Tuareg Revolution behind it, received wide publicity in journalistic circles and within Western academia, especially French, because of the relationships Manu Dayack built through his work and activity in desert tourism. The Tuareg revolution coincided with another revolution of the Tebu minority led by Baraka Wardougou, leader of the Sahrawi Revolutionary Armed Forces in the Kour region in the far north-east of Niger. This book, and the Tuareg Revolution behind it, received wide publicity in journalistic circles and within Western academia, especially French, because of the relationships Manu Dayack built through his work and activity in desert tourism. The Tuareg revolution coincided with another revolution of the Tebu minority led by Baraka Wardougou, leader of the Sahrawi Revolutionary Armed Forces in the Kour region in the far north-east of Niger.(21) .
The Tuareg rebellion will take a long time and cast a shadow over the work of the National Conference, which represented the beginning of the democratic process in the early nineties. Despite the multiplicity of mediators and facilitators (France, Burkina Faso and Algeria), and the signing of successive agreements stipulating a general amnesty, the integration of the rebels into the Nigerian army, and granting the northern regions a certain level of decentralized administration starting in 1995, the split of the Tuareg armed movements and the emergence of the Tebu revolution since the mid-nineties will continue for a long time. This conflict, the consequences of which remained until the end of the nineties, then emerged again in 2007. Unlike Mali, where the Arabs and Tuareg usually sided against Bamako, the Tuareg revolution in Niger brought with it the emergence of ethnic rivalries among the Arabs seeking to protect their commercial supply chains towards Libya. With the Tuareg.
Uranium: Niger is a generator for French nuclear reactors
In contrast to the marginal role that remained for Niger in the French colonial empire, independent Niger will have great importance in Paris’s relationship with its former colonies in the African continent within the framework known as France-Africa with the beginning of the exploitation of uranium mines in the north, in the year 1971. It seemed that the hand of France that discovered Uranium mines during the days of its colonization of Niger were at the forefront of the partnership to exploit these mines with the establishment of the SOMAIR Mining Company, February 1, 1968. The French Nuclear Energy Commission and French privateers acquired eighty percent of this company, in exchange for twenty percent for the Nigerian state, as reported. Gregoire (1999). Niger had limited room for maneuver, which lacked resources, expertise, and specialized personnel. What made France succeed in imposing its harsh conditions on Hamani Diori’s regime, which aspired to a resource that would keep its regime stable (22) .
The Hamani Diori regime, which ruled Niger since its independence until 1974, sought to make its country’s uranium a trump card in negotiations with France, and to attract additional financial support to the amounts that France allocates to support its former colonies in Africa, with the start of studies to establish these projects. During the last years of his rule, Diori worked to pressure Paris to recalculate the price of uranium, looking to be liberated from absolute French control over Niger’s uranium, and to confirm Niamey’s right to sell its share of uranium to whomever it wanted. These are the efforts that Hecht (2012) believes were not crowned with great successes due to the vast gap in the balance of power between Paris and its former colony (23) .
The days of Colonel Seni Conté would witness an expansion in Niger’s uranium production with the establishment of the Akukan mining company COMINAK, of which the French company Areva (later to bear the name Orano) held the largest share of its capital at 34%, compared to 31% for the Nigerian National Office of Mineral Resources, in addition to investors. Japanese and Spanish. This company will exploit the Akukan mine located west of Arlit. The exploitation of these mines coincided with the rise in uranium prices, which, as Gregoire (2011) reports, moved from five thousand West African francs in 1971 to twenty-four thousand five hundred in 1980. Gregoire talks about the clear impact that the uranium boom had on Niger’s economy and its ability to enable the Conte regime to launch construction projects that included housing, schools, roads, and various government facilities (24) .
Without confirming the connection between the two events, most scholars of the role of uranium in Paris’s relationship with Namibia (Grégoire 1999, Gregoire 2011, Hecht 2012) confirm that the military coup that overthrew Diori, on April 15, 1974, came shortly before a scheduled meeting between the latter and a French delegation in Niamey on the 18th of the same month. Diori aspired for this meeting to culminate in Niamey extracting better prices for uranium from Paris and with his country benefiting more from its resources (25) .
Reports also indicate the lenient role that former French President Nicolas Sarkozy had towards Mamadou Tandja’s efforts to remain in power before the end of his two constitutional presidential terms during his visit to Niamey, in March 2009. Glazier (2016) reports that Tandja pressured Sarkozy, who He tried to remove Niger from his African tour by stipulating that Sarkozy should visit Niamey to sign an agreement with the Areva company granting it the right to exploit the second most important uranium mine in the world, as Glazier reports. This concerns the Imorarn mine, which has reserves of eighty thousand tons. Glazier believes that Tanga exploited this visit to legitimize his plans to remain in power and gain French support for it, before Colonel Salou Djibo overthrew him in a military coup in February 2010 ( 26) .
Niger’s uranium wealth was not decisive in setting the tone of the relationship with Paris alone, but it also played a pivotal role in charting the course of Niamey’s relationship with the Tuareg in the north. The Tuareg revolutions in the 1990s and the beginning of the millennium that we discussed above were, according to the narrative of the rebellions, a rejection by the residents of uranium mining areas of the absence of development projects on their lands despite the bounties inside them. The share of the Tuareg was small, not only in terms of the construction of vital facilities in their regions, but also its smallness was reflected in the jobs, revenue and supply deals they obtained from the companies exploiting these mines. In 1980, the share of catering establishments owned by their descendants did not exceed ten percent, compared to forty percent for the Hausa, twenty-five percent for the Arabs, and twenty percent for the Zarma-Songai, as Gregoire (1999) reports. This percentage will decrease, according to the same source, in 1988, at the height of the rebellion crisis, to nine percent, then decline to less than four percent in 1996.(27) .
Niger’s wealth of uranium, which France and the European Union countries rely on to generate nuclear energy, in light of the interruption of Russian gas supplies, represents not only the most prominent bet in the current crisis, but also the French military bases, whose Sahel space has begun to narrow, also weigh in on these bets. France is not the only Western power that uses Niger as a location for its military bases. Rather, the United States has one of its largest drone bases. Niger, especially its north, which is open to Algeria and Libya, is one of the most important migration paths taken annually by groups of Africans fleeing the yoke of economic and social fragility and poverty from sub-Saharan Africa towards the Mediterranean in the hope of crossing to Europe.
Perhaps the most notable absence from these accounts is the difficult living and economic conditions of most of Niger’s population, which is classified among the poorest in the world. According to international relief organizations that provide, among other vital assistance, life-saving food to more than three million people in Niger, the continuation of this crisis, and the resulting closure of borders, may have catastrophic humanitarian consequences in a country with a long history of hunger and lack of food. Food security.
Despite the weight of this crisis, and despite the pressure that Niger is facing from ECOWAS, the African Union, and the international community as a whole, the leaders of the military coup, and behind them groups of disaffected, lost youth clinging to some hope in this military coup, may surprise the world with their ability to withstand. Niger is a country whose population, since the discovery of uranium six decades ago has been waiting for its share of prosperity and job opportunities, has developed great resilience in the face of disappointments, dashed hopes, and harsh conditions. This is what the American researcher Maskelier captured, with the genius of the anthropologist, while observing the tea sessions (Fada) held by peers (Samaria) in Niamey in her book Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger.
1)- Salifou, A. (2002). Niger. Paris: L’Harmattan.
2)- Finn Fuglestad: A History of Niger 1850–1960 (African Studies, Series Number 41), Cambridge University Press, December 2008, p 19.
3) – Tchani’s speeches from August 20 to 21, 2023 on the coup d’état in Niger, TikTok from August 20, 2023 (seen on 08/30/2023): https://rb.gy/z3af2
4)- Finn Fuglestad: A History of Niger 1850–1960 (African Studies, Series Number 41), Cambridge University Press, December 2008, p 20.
5)- Levitzion, N. (2000). Islam in the Bilad al-Sudan to 1800. In N. Levtzion & R. Pouwels (Eds.), The History of Africa (pp. 54-72). Ohio: Ohio University Press.
6)- Charlic, R. (1991). Niger: Personal Rule and Survival in the Sahel. Colorado: Westview Press, Inc, p 10.
7)- Lefebvre, C (2015). Sand borders and paper borders: history of territories and borders, from the Sokoto jihad to the French colonization of Niger, 19th-20th centuries. Paris: Éditions de la Sorbonne.
8)- Lefebvre, C. (2004). History of the borders of Niger. Materials for the history of our time. (73), 18-14, p. 23.
9)- Gremont Charles, 2010, The Iwellemmedan Touaregs (1647-1896). A political ensemble of the Niger Bend, Paris, Karthala, 552 p., ill., bibl., index, appendices.
10)- HAMANI Djibo M.: At the crossroads of Sudan and Berberia: the Tuareg sultanate of Ayar, INRSH – Niamey – 1989, (Nigerian Studies – 55).
11)- Ibrahim, J. (1994). Political Exclusion, Democratization and Dynamics of Ethnicity in Niger. Africa Today. 26(14), 15-39.
12)- Kimba, I. (1994). Peasant and Anti-Colonial Rebellions in Western Niger, 1905-1906. In P. Lovejoy, & A. Kanya-Forstner (Eds.), The Sokoto Caliphate and the European Powers ( pp. 173-213). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, p179.
13) – Lefebvre, C (2015). Sand borders and paper borders: history of territories and borders, from the Sokoto jihad to the French colonization of Niger, 19th-20th centuries. Paris: Éditions de la Sorbonne.
14)- Charlic, R. (1991). Niger: Personal Rule and Survival in the Sahel. Colorado: Westview Press, Inc, p 9.
15)- Camille Lefebvre: Borders of sand, borders of paper (History of territories and borders, from the
jihad of Sokoto to the French colonization of Niger, 19th-20th centuries) Everything changes, nothing changes (1956-1964), Open Edition Books (seen 08/25/2023): https://books.openedition.org/psorbonne/36573?lang=fr
16)- Raynal, J.: The second Republic of Niger: a well-ordered democracy, 1990, African law review, Pages: 379-402.
17)- Ibrahim, J. & Soulay, A. (1998). The Rise to Power of an Opposition Party: The MSND in Niger Republic. In A. Olukoshi (Ed.), The Politics of Opposition in Contemporary Africa (pp. 144-170). Stockholm: Elanders Gotab.
18)- Op. Cit.
19) Serj Daniel: The Tuareg after Gaddafi… What future for the Sahel?, Al Jazeera Center for Studies, October 26, 2011 (accessed: August 20, 2023): https://studies.aljazeera.net/ar /reports/2011/10/2011102695211520116.html
20)- Grégoire, E. (1999) The Tuareg of Niger: the Destiny of a Myth. Paris: Karthala.
21) – Salifou, A. (1993). The Tuareg Question in Niger. Paris: Karthala.
See also: Djibou, M. (2002). Tuareg rebellion and the Saharan question in Niger. Elsewhere: Revue de Sciences Sociales au Sud. 3(23), 135-156.
22)- Grégoire, E. (1999) The Tuareg of Niger: the Destiny of a Myth. Paris: Karthala.
23)- Hecht, G. (2012). Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade. Cambridge: The Mit Press.
24) – Gregoire, E. (2011). Niger: a State with High Uranium Content. Herodotus: Review of Geography and Geopolitics. 3(142), 206-225.
25)- Grégoire, E. (1999) The Tuareg of Niger: the Destiny of a Myth. Paris: Karthala.
See also: Gregoire, E. (2011). Niger: a State with High Uranium Content. Herodotus: Review of Geography and Geopolitics. 3(142), 206-225.
Et Aussi: Hecht, G. (2012). Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade. Cambridge: The Mit Press.
26) – Glaser, A. (2016). Arrogant like a Frenchman in Africa. Paris: Fayard.
27)- Grégoire, E. (1999) The Tuareg of Niger: the Destiny of a Myth. Paris: Karthala.