By: Chourouk Mestour

Voices/ September 2023


This article explores Algerian political clout through its quiet diplomacy in the Niger crisis, Analyzing Algeria’s potential contribution to dissolving ECOWAS’ hardline stance on intervention in Niger and emphasizing diplomatic solutions. This analysis examines the evolving role of Algeria in highlighting the significance of discussions and negotiations for conflict resolution, showcasing the transformation of discourse and its influence on regional dynamics.

Keywords: Niger, ECOWAS, Algeria, France, Regional Security



  1. What are the Algerian Security Concerns about Niger?
  2. Algerian Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve the Crisis in Niger
  3. Can ECOWAS Shift from an Aggressive Posture to Diplomatic Solutions?
  4. Does France’s Stance Undermine Algerian Diplomatic Efforts?




The crisis in Niger has captured the attention of various regional and international parties. Opinions have varied between those who support military intervention against the coup leaders and those who advocate for a peaceful solution, rejecting military intervention due to its potential negative repercussions on Niger and the region.

France is among the leading countries calling for a military intervention in Niger, aiming to safeguard its vital interests in the region and to prevent a decline in its authority and influence. France has worked to encourage hesitant African parties, particularly within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to intervene and reverse the military coup.

On the other hand, ECOWAS member states initially held a hesitant stance that oscillated between intervention and peaceful resolution. However, French influence played a significant role in shaping their aggressive discourse and actions, according to the military junta,  They stated on national television that France was looking for “ways and means to intervene militarily in Niger” and had met with the chief of staff of Niger’s national guard “to obtain the necessary political and military authorization. “And the economic sanctions and Nigeria’s suspension of electricity supply to Niger was the result of this pressure

Algerian diplomatic activity has long been effective, as it has played a mediating role between conflicting countries in Africa on several occasions; for example, Algeria’s diplomatic have supported Malian cohesion and integration since 1991. Algeria successfully brokered cease-fire agreements in 2006 and also during the challenging years leading up to the final agreement concluded in June 2015, and Algeria poses no threat or interference to Mali’s sovereignty; in fact, it helps foster improved political conditions for successful reconciliation among various Malian factions by facilitating a convergence of perspectives and positions and also Algeria helped the UN maintain security operations in the conflict between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And there was an effective mediation to settle the conflict between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels. Algeria has consistently adopted peaceful solutions and called for departures from force and aggression.

Algeria has once more taken the same position concerning the coup in Niger. It reaffirmed its rejection of military intervention and officially stated that such an intervention would be an unacceptable solution and a direct threat to its regional security.

Some features put us in front of a hypothesis of shifting discourse in line with Algeria’s perspective, after the expiration of the week-long deadline set by ECOWAS for the coup leaders. Initially, it appeared that military intervention was imminent, but the rhetoric has transformed from incitement to military action into a possibility of the conciliatory stance that supports a peaceful resolution and the postponement of any steps of intervention.

Hence, can Algeria’s diplomatic endeavors influence ECOWAS’ response to the Niger coup crisis, and what valuable contributions can Algerian diplomacy offer to help manage the situation effectively?


What are the Algerian Security Concerns about Niger?

When discussing the Algerian role in Niger’s crisis, it is imperative to start with the regional security approach to explain this situation.

This is because nations often consider their bordering countries as their primary source of security threats. With the evolution of cross-border threats, a state cannot protect its national security without ensuring a secure regional environment. Following the coup in Niger that took place on July 26th, numerous security concerns necessitate Algeria to act to contain any threats affecting its southern borders. The greatest of these concerns is foreign military intervention that could turn the region into a theatre for proxy wars, in addition to the following reasons:

  1. The first point is the shared border: Niger and Algeria share a border that spans approximately 951 kilometers. Consequently, any disturbances within Niger can spill over to the Algerian border, posing threats or dangers to Algerian national security. Algeria may face an attempt by terrorist groups to infiltrate the country or an increase in illegal activities such as drug trafficking.
  2. The Trans-Saharan Highway Project: This major infrastructure initiative, also known as the African Unity Road, aims to connect Niger, Nigeria and Algeria with a road stretching across the Sahara Desert. The project is considered a crucial endeavour to foster regional cooperation and development in the participating countries. However, the current chaos in Niger could potentially halt the continuation of this project, which was in its final stages, as securing this road during the coup period would be difficult without any legitimate authority in Niger.
  3. The migrant crisis from Niger: The continent’s fourth longest land border, Algeria is an essential junction point between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, as a large number of migrants of different nationalities (mainly from West Africa) enter Algeria. Most arrive on Algerian territory across the 1500km border with Mali and Niger in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Despite the stable situation in Niger in recent years, this did not prevent migrants from coming to Algeria. Algeria periodically deports illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries, including Niger. Now, with the coup happening, the situation may get complicated.

Although ensuring regional security requires collective regional efforts, it does not necessarily have to be organized or deep like security groups. It is possible to discuss similar perspectives and diplomatic solutions that do not rely on the use of force. This is Algeria’s stance, where it aligns with many countries in rejecting intervention, like Mali and Burkina Faso, its position is the most rational.


Algerian Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve the Crisis in Niger:

The statement of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the first official confirmed step expressing Algeria’s categorical rejection of unconstitutional changes, manifested in the overthrow of constitutional legitimacy. However, at the same time, Algeria affirmed its rejection of military intervention, in line with its commitment to neutrality and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, one of the most important principles of Algerian foreign policy. It emphasized neutrality by focusing on the importance of constitutional legitimacy, while simultaneously calling on Nigerian parties to engage in dialogue without excluding any side, including the coup plotters who are part of the military establishment.

Yet, in the face of intervention by all parties, especially Western involvement, Algeria, which shares a common border with Niger, cannot maintain its neutrality.      Algeria must express direct interest and exert diplomatic pressure on the parties advocating for a military intervention, to resolve the crisis and preserve its national security.

The following aspects show Algeria’s involvement in attempting to transform the African discourse from offensive to peaceful:

  1. Extending an invitation to African countries to pursue a peaceful solution:  Starting with communication with the authorities in Niger, urging them to focus on a diplomatic solution based on African collective action and cautioning against foreign interventions. This was followed by Algerian-European communication, as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, discussed developments in Niger with Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf.
  2. Algeria’s reception of the Special Envoy of the Nigerian President: The current President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, visited Algeria. According to a statement from the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brou delivered a written message to President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The meeting aimed to exchange opinions and consultations regarding the developments in Niger. During this meeting, Algeria reiterated its rejection of the use of force in Niger.
  3. Algerian Authorities’ Discourse: Algerian President: As part of his regular meetings with the national press, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated in his latest encounter that “it is necessary to return to constitutional legitimacy in Niger. We call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in this country. We are prepared to assist if requested,” reaffirming Algeria’s support for an internal solution and emphasizing that the primary choice lies with local authorities and the people. He also emphasized the “rejection of military intervention in Niger” and highlighted that any foreign intervention poses a direct threat to Algeria. Algerian Chief of Staff, in his first statement after the coup in Niger, stated that the country’s military institution is ready to confront any threat.
  4. Visit of Algerian Foreign Minister to the United States: The crisis in Niger was not the reason for this visit, but it became a central topic of discussion the U.S. position was diplomatic and calm, which bolstered Algeria’s stance against the French approach.

The U.S. Secretary of State confirmed in a tweet that Ahmed Attaf’s visit was aimed at discussing the partnership between the U.S. and Algeria and consulting on shared priorities, including stability in the Sahel region.

The US has sent an envoy to meet with the junta leadership and has refrained from publicly labelling the takeover a coup, claiming that there is yet a negotiated option to restore democracy. In contrast, France which is refusing to engage diplomatically with the junta, supports military intervention.

Despite Algeria’s desire for a primarily African solution among the conflicting parties in Niger, this does not negate the significance of the current stance of the United States in supporting the diplomatic resolution. Especially with the military mission presence in Niger.

These officially announced attempts are very important, as they can be regarded as diplomatic pressure tactics. In addition to Algeria’s efforts, several factors have supported the diplomatic solution.


Can ECOWAS Shift from an Aggressive Posture to Diplomatic Solutions?

A regional security approach remains the most suitable approach for analyzing the Niger crisis, as ECOWAS is an example of a security organization based on the concept of regional security.

ECOWAS was established in 1975 by developing West African states as part of their strategy to promote economic development and prosperity for their respective countries. However, following widespread conflict and instability in the sub-region in the 1990s and early 2000s, the leaders realized that economic prosperity could not be achieved in the absence of peace and security. Beginning with a process that saw the adoption of nascent security protocols in 1978, the region has today developed and institutionalized elaborate conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and security mechanisms. However, ECOWAS’ potential has been hindered by financial, military, and political difficulties. This disrupted their potential and made them hostage to the dictates of the guarantors of financial or security assistance, such as France.

The ECOWAS states position on Niger was unstable and weak from the start because it was uncertain if a diplomatic settlement or a military intervention was preferable. Ultimately, France was able to strongly influence the member states, leading them to threaten military action. This culminated with the ECOWAS leaders giving the Nigerien military an ultimatum on 30 July to restore power to the deposed president within seven days or face a military intervention. However, as the deadline of August 6th passed, the military leaders of the coup remained.

 Met again on August 10 to review the situation in Niger. The speech given at the summit made it obvious that the situation was stabilizing when Nigerian President Bola Tinubu stated that West African leaders should try all diplomatic routes to ensure a swift return to constitutional rule in Niger, including dialogue with the coup leaders there, and he continued “We must engage all parties involved, including the coup leaders, in earnest discussions to convince them to relinquish power and reinstate President (Mohamed) Bazoum.”

Then the focus in the discourse shifted once again towards the necessity of military intervention. When ECOWAS stated that they have agreed on a “D-day” for possible military intervention to restore democracy in Niger after generals toppled and detained President Mohamed Bazoum.

Will diplomatic pressure succeed in preventing this military intervention? especially after the ECOWAS commissioner for peace and security, Abdel-Fatau Musah indicated that “ECOWAS is not abandoning efforts to communicate with the leaders of Niger’s coup, despite their disregard for a deadline to reinstate Bazoum and their lack of responsiveness to negotiations aimed at restoring his authority… and “We are not eager to resort to the military option; it’s not our preferred option”; and also one of the military leaders within the group anticipated that the armies would need 6 months before intervening in Niger.

Numerous factors could add additional pressure on ECOWAS, the most important of which are:

  1. Despite the intervention’s goal being to protect the region, since Niger is part of the region, the repercussions of the war could potentially pose a greater threat to the region. It will lead to widespread chaos and thus an opportunity for terrorist groups to become active, as the Sahel region is regarded as the global core of terrorism, with attacks escalating in recent years in the Liptako-Gourma region between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger where Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliates have grown. Concerns are growing over the potential implications of these developments for the fight against terrorism in the region.
  2. The popular support for the coup was a very significant point, and it became clear that restoring democracy in the country would be tough. The ECOWAS states witnessed thousands of coup supporters gathered at a stadium on the deadline set by them.
  3. Mali and Burkina Faso both said that they stand together to defend Niger and further warned that any foreign military intervention in Niamey will be considered a declaration of war on both nations with Niger. Therefore, this warning implies that the scope of the conflict will widen and not merely remain a war to reclaim legitimacy in Niger, as some parties believe. Rather, it will be a war between countries within the same region.



Does France’s Stance Undermine Algerian Diplomatic Efforts?   

When discussing France’s role or perspective, the regional approach is undermined by the fact that France is not part of the region. However, for many African regimes, France is perceived as a threat to regional security, as is the case for countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger currently, which harbour sentiments of resentment towards the French presence.

Before discussing if France’s Stance could Undermine Algerian Diplomatic Efforts We have to mention briefly why France is so concerned about Niger.

Niger was a French colony from 1900 to 1960. Over 70 years later, As a result, France views this country, like many African nations, as a Lebensraum (vital space) and an important source of natural resources.

Indeed, Niger is the top exporter of natural uranium to France (more than 5000 tons in 2012, and according to 2020 statistics, France imports approximately 35% from Niger). This African country swiftly emerged as a significant supplier of uranium to France. Exploration efforts began as early as 1956, yielding positive results in 1964 following Niger’s independence in 1960. By this time, France had established potential commercial agreements to obtain uranium from Niger through an amendment to a 1961 bilateral treaty. France’s concerns following the coup in Niger grew as it was accused of being the source of African instability.

One year after the departure of the last soldiers of France’s operation Barkhane from Mali, and six months after the withdrawal of French Special Forces from Burkina Faso at the request of a new military government, the Nigerien coup casts a shadow over the future of Paris’s military presence in the region. This is in addition to the general public’s rejection of France.

The cooperation with Niger was part of a strategy in which Paris hoped to show the key lesson from Mali: support local forces by providing the equipment and expertise they need, but don’t substitute for them. That’s why the failure of this France’s strategy led to a harsh statement from Emmanuel Macron, warning that “it will not tolerate any attack against France and its interests” in Niger. “Anyone who attacks French citizens, the army, diplomats and French headquarters will see France react immediately and inflexibly.”

In addition to the statement and the mobilization of the ECOWAS, the Niger Military accused France of entering their closed airspace and releasing “terrorists.”

Returning to France’s position, its support for military intervention appears to counter the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, potentially obstructing it. In light of Algeria’s advocacy for a peaceful resolution to the Niger crisis, France’s stance may indeed undermine Algeria’s diplomatic initiatives. Nonetheless, it would be inaccurate to assert that France’s objective is to undermine Algeria; rather, it seems to be an endeavor to regain influence over Niger. This is because France completely refused the possibility of reaching an agreement with the military junta.

It is hard to deny that France holds significant influence in Niger. Despite its waning status on the continent, it still has options for imposing pressure, and the following ideas can support its efforts to undermine the diplomatic solution:

  • Military presence, France has between 1,000 and 1,500 troops in Niger.
  • The pro-France parties in Niger; Political groups or factions within Niger that hold a favorable stance towards France often align their interests with France’s policies and initiatives in the region. For instance, some parties requested intervention from the French presence in Niamey shortly after the coup by the head of the presidential guard. This request was given serious consideration.
  • Additionally, Morocco has the potential to serve as an alternative route for French aircraft. Therefore, if Algeria were to deny military passage for planes to Niger, it would not have a significant impact on France.

Nonetheless, there is a significant likelihood that France will seek to expedite military intervention, either by endorsing the postponed ECOWAS decision or by direct involvement. The assertive nature of France’s policy or intervention could carry substantial repercussions, compelling Algeria to maintain its defensive posture and potentially isolate itself from Niger to mitigate cross-border security risks.

Nonetheless, diverse perspectives are held by various analysts. Military analyst Beni Jerome, for instance, contends that “there is no interest for France in military intervention, as it would fuel an anti-France narrative within the country.” He posits that any military intervention would probably be orchestrated at the African Union level, with France assuming a more subdued role in the process.

Similarly, the writer and political analyst Jean Pierre Beran stated that Paris is currently content with expressing support for the democratically elected government. He points out that “even if France were to intervene militarily, it would do so in collaboration with allies to monitor the future developments.”

In conclusion, a comprehensive analysis of the intricate web of interests and influences surrounding the Niger conflict underscores the significant impact of France’s position on Algeria’s diplomatic endeavors. France’s historical connections, economic interests, and military engagement in Niger, as explored earlier, collectively mold its stance on this issue. Consequently, it raises pertinent questions regarding the extent to which Algeria’s diplomatic initiatives can mold the regional discourse and facilitate a peaceful resolution.

The delicate interplay between Algeria’s diplomatic initiatives and France’s stance underscores the necessity of assessing potential outcomes. While Algeria’s track record of conflict resolution and promotion of dialogue remains noteworthy, the looming influence of France’s assertive position demands meticulous scrutiny. Can Algeria’s diplomatic pressure and regional engagements effectively counterbalance France’s military leanings?



The changing discourse and the deferred decisions from ECOWAS Towards Niger present a possibility of transformation from a stance characterized by aggression to one rooted in diplomatic settlement. The potential shift could reflect a growing recognition of the Algerian role and its rational discourse that insisted on the value of peaceful negotiations and cooperative efforts in resolving complex regional issues and the importance of African-African dialogue.

Despite the ongoing efforts made, it is not clear if ECOWAS’s current stance will remain steadfast. Instead, its position could change if conflicting views persist among parties or if external pressure continues.

However, there are several potential future scenarios that, even if not directly attributable to France, would work against the coup leaders. These include the possibility of the spread of chaos and even increased terrorist activities, given that the West might refuse to provide counterterrorism assistance as it has done in the past.

Furthermore, if the military officers extend military rule and do not begin the process of returning to constitutional elections, there is a risk of division within the units of the Nigerian military. Power struggles are typical inside military institutions, especially during times of chaos, when each side may seek to use the crisis to obtain a firmer foothold and shift the balance of power, potentially benefiting specific ethnic groups or factions within Niger.

Despite the military intervention being postponed, the ongoing pressure through the military junta towards the ousted president would serve as a challenge to both ECOWAS and France.

But if Niger’s military authorities can restore order, create a new government, and even hold early elections, with the support of African countries including Algeria, Niger can return to a state of natural stability following the constitution, serving its interests and ensuring the security of the region. 




  1. “Thousands in Niger Rally in Support of Coup Leaders”, Aljazeera, 06/08/2023. Accessed 09/08/2023, at
  2. “Mali and Burkina Faso Warn against Any Foreign Military Intervention in Niger”, Africa News, 01/08/2023. Accessed 09/08/2023, at
  3. Algeria opposes military intervention in Niger”, Reuters, 05/08/2023, Accessed 23/08/2023 at
  4. “Algeria”, International Organization for Migration. Accessed 10/08/2023 at
  5. “Attaf Receives Special Envoy of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad. Accessed 07/08/2023, at
  6. “Attaf, Borrell examine developments of the situation in Niger”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad, Accessed 10/08/2023 in
  7. “Nigeria cuts electricity to Niger after coup”, Africa news, 02/08/2023, Accessed 23/08/2023, at
  8. “Official Statement of MND”, Ministry of National Defence, 08/08/2023, Accessed 23/08/2023, at
  9. “Regional and International Crises”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad. Accessed 10/08/2023, at
  10. Algeria International Channel, “The Regular Media Briefing of Algerian President with National Media”, Youtube Video, 6 /08/2023. Accessed 08/08/2023 at
  11. Angelique Chrisafis, “Niger coup leaders accuse France of plotting military intervention”, the guardian,31/07/2023, Accessed 23/08/2023, at
  12. Felix Onuah and Boureima Balima,” ECOWAS Calls for Diplomatic Means to Restore Niger President”, Business Day, 10/08/2023. Accessed 11/08/2023 at
  13. Frédéric Bobin, “Algeria Seeks to Mediate in Niger Crisis”, Le Monde, 09/10/2023. Accessed 11/08/2023 at
  14. Idrees Ali and Daphne Psaledakis, “US military mission in Niger in focus after coup”, Reuters, 10/08/2023, Accessed 24/08/2023, at
  15. Laeed Zaghlami, “Public diplomacy and soft power in Algeria’s foreign policy”, Algerian Journal of Human and Social Sciences, Vol 09, Issue 02,2021.
  16. Lina Raafat, “What the Niger Coup Means for the Fight against Terrorism in the Sahel”, Middle East Institute, 31/07/2023. Accessed 10/08/2023, at
  17. Morgane Le Cam and Nathalie Guibert, Niger Coup Undermine French Military Strategy in Sahel, Le Monde, 02/08/2023. Accessed 10/08/2023, at
  18. nahal toosi and clea caulcutt, “France, U.S. relations grow tense over Niger coup”, politico, 18/08/2023, Accessed 23/08/2023, at
  19. Oitc Department, “Trans-Sahara Highway (Tsh) Project”, African Development Fund, 2013.
  20. Olayinka Ajala, “Niger Coup: Why an Ecowas-led Military Intervention is Unlikely”, The Conversation, 08/08/2023. Accessed 10/08/2023 at
  21. Statement from the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  22. Tertrais, Bruno. “Uranium from Niger: A Key Resource of Diminishing Importance for France.” Danish Institute for International Studies, 2014.
  23. Ukertor Gabriel Moti, “A Review of Regional Approaches in Dealing with Security Issues.” International Research Journal of Arts and Social Sciences 2.5 (2013).

Chourouk Mestour is an independent researcher and a doctoral candidate in international relations, holds a keen focus on security and strategic studies across Africa, with a particular emphasis on the North African domain, international relations theories, and postcolonial studies. Her scholarly footprint encompasses a range of outputs, including articles in Arabic, book reviews, reviews of research papers, as well as translations in both Arabic and English. Her contributions appear in diverse journals, research institutes, and numerous online platforms.

Chourouk Mestour’s page at Critical Voices CIGA:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *