Niger’s Coup Leaders Trained by US

August 13th, 2023 - by Dave DeCamp / & Nick Turse / The Intercept

Niger’s democratically-elected President Mohamed Bazoum.

Niger Junta Told Nuland They’d Kill Bazoum
There’s a Military Intervention
Dave DeCamp /

(August 10, 2023) — The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Niger junta told Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that they would kill deposed President Mohamed Bazoum if neighboring countries launched a military intervention to reinstate him.

After meeting with junta leaders in Niger on Monday, Nuland did not mention the threat or discuss the possibility of military intervention. But she described the talks as “extremely frank and at times quite difficult” and sounded doubtful that the junta would relinquish power or release Bazoum.

AP cited an unnamed Western military official who said the junta made the threat to Nuland. The report said that a US official confirmed the account.

The US has backed threats from ECOWAS, a bloc of West African nations, to intervene militarily if Bazoum is not reinstated.

ECOWAS held a summit in Nigeria on Thursday and ordered the activation of a reserve force to “restore constitutional order in the republic of Niger,” but it’s not clear if intervention is imminent. Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, the ECOWAS chair, also said the use of force is a “last resort.”

A military intervention could spark a major regional war as Mali and Burkina Faso have warned they would support the Niger junta. The US and France would likely be involved as they each have over 1,000 troops in Niger.

At Least Five Members of the Niger Junta
Were Trained by the US
Nick Turse / The Intercept

(August 10, 2023) — The United States has trained at least five members of the new ruling junta in Niger, The Intercept has learned. America has now “paused” security assistance to that military-led government even as it looks to ramp up such aid to Burkina Faso, which is ruled by a military officer who took power in a 2022 coup.

The Nigerien junta, which calls itself the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Fatherland, seized power on July 26 and detained the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. The commander of the country’s presidential guard, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, also spelled Tiani, has proclaimed himself the country’s new leader, while Bazoum and his family remain “under virtual house arrest,” US Under Secretary for Political Affairs and Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this week. Nuland and other US officials asked to see Bazoum in person when they visited Niger on Monday, but his captors refused.

Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that a Lt. Cl. Abdourahmane Tiani was selected to attend a yearlong International Counterterrorism Fellows Program at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, from 2009 to 2010. Over the weekend, another Nigerien mutineer, Gen. Mohamed Toumba, spoke before a cheering crowd at a 30,000-seat stadium named after Seyni Kountche, who led Niger’s first coup d’état in 1974. “We are aware of their Machiavellian plan,” he said of those “plotting subversion” against “the forward march of Niger.”

Five years ago, Toumba addressed US military officers and African dignitaries at the opening ceremony for Flintlock, US Africa Command’s largest annual special operations counterterrorism exercise.

The Intercept previously reported that Brig. Gen. Moussa Salaou Barmou, who headed Niger’s Special Forces and now serves as chief of defense, also attended the National Defense University and trained at Fort Benning (now Fort Moore), Georgia. On Monday, Barmou told Nuland that the junta would execute Bazoum if neighboring countries attempted a military intervention to restore his rule, a US official told The Intercept.

“It’s a disturbing trend, and a sign of how badly misallocated our national security spending is on the continent,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on X, formerly known as Twitter, drawing attention to The Intercept’s coverage of the latest in a long parade of US-trained military mutineers.

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