France is moving day after day towards recognizing the new fait accompli in Niger and Africa in general after a series of military coups in the African continent, which observers and analysts see as a clear retreat and raising the white flag.
The development comes after a source in the French Ministry of Defense revealed to Al Jazeera that there is functional coordination between the French army and the leaders of the coup in Niger to withdraw sensitive equipment and its crews from the French military base in Niamey, but without withdrawing the military forces operating there.
Dr. Ziad Majed, a professor of political science at the American University of Paris, believes that the French predicament is increasing and Paris has no choice but to deal with the fait accompli, and that it has begun to rely on face-saving initiatives and its presence in Niger.
In an attempt to shape the scene regarding the Niger crisis, he stressed that there is more awareness in Paris that the page has been turned, that the Elysee must develop a new policy with its allies on the continent and beyond, and that France must reconsider the mistakes of the past or the absence of its presence in Africa.
Speaking to the "Beyond the News" program in the episode (2023/9/6), Majid highlighted the contradiction of French statements after Paris said that relations with Niger's putschists would be to maintain the security of soldiers, withdraw equipment and transfer it to US camps in Niger or Chad, before it became clear that there was an intention to open direct relations with the leaders of the military council in Niger in preparation for a gradual withdrawal, as happened in Mali and Burkina Faso, or to arrange relations.
While he considered that France's claims that its talks with the leaders of the coup in Niger are military and logistical rather than political "is not right", Majed pointed out that Paris has lost its relations with Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and its relationship with Algeria does not allow the latter to carry out effective mediation, in addition to the retreat of African countries from military intervention, which put them in direct confrontation with the Niger putschists.
The director of the Geneva Centre for Security and Strategic Studies in Africa, David Otto Andley, agreed with Majid's view, and stressed that the French began to talk about coordination after seeing the people of Niger supporting the putschists, stressing that the Elysee has no choice but to recognize and work with the Niger military.
Regarding the implications of the existence of this coordination, the African guest says that France has begun to pay attention to the anti-African sentiment on the continent, along with the progress made by the United States and Britain in some African colonies, in addition to Washington's neutral position.
Andley cited Macron's statements that his country will not listen to Niger's putschists, and that he talks daily with ousted President Bazoum, and compared them to recent developments to conclude that Paris has begun to review its position and is making an effort to open a window with the putschists in the hope of reaching a compromise.
It is believed that France is reviewing its policies in Africa, where it loses its military presence given the competition with China, and Russia compensates French forces directly or indirectly, and stressed that the situation is dangerous and the French lose a lot, so they are trying to avoid this situation and regain some influence with the desire of new generations in Africa to see their country more independent.
Map of influence in Africa
As for alliances, Majid revealed that France wished for a unified European position on what happened and did not get it, and its policy became governed by bilateral relations, denying the existence of a clear European alliance in Africa.
While he saw that Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have similar elements by rejecting the French presence, he stressed that other countries in Africa have sharper positions than America or Britain, in addition to the Chinese factor and the Russian issue related to the employment of Wagner forces, but they do not have the elements of a political presence there.
On the other hand, Andley believes that coordination between Mali, Guinea, Niger and Burkina Faso exists because she believes that France is pushing African countries to intervene militarily, which he believes is very difficult for the French to find a compromise.
He reiterated that the French must accept the new reality in light of the increasing influence of the United States, China, Russia and the United Kingdom, and saw that these countries offer economic alternatives, and Paris must adapt to the new reality or lose influence.