We look at the growing crisis in Niger, where the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown last week by his own presidential guard. One of the coup’s leaders, Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou, was trained by the U.S., making the Nigerien coup the 11th in West Africa since 2008 to involve U.S.-trained military officers. The U.S. has approximately 1,000 troops in Niger, where it’s also spent $100 million building a drone base in its ongoing “war on terror.” The Biden administration has so far refused to describe last week’s event as a coup, because doing so would force Washington to cut security aid to Niger. While the reasons for the coup are still unclear, it is part of a worrying trend in the region, where “countries that have oversized involvement of the military in political life … are far more likely to have an ongoing pattern of military coups,” according to Stephanie Savell, the co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
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