Mohamed Bazoum, ouster president of Niger

A devastating war could sweep across a vast swathe of Africa south of the Sahara desert and create brutal conflicts from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. The West African regional bloc Ecowas said last week it had chosen an undisclosed “D-Day” for a possible military intervention in Niger.

It would be designed to restore the country’s pro‑Western president Mohamed Bazoum following last month’s military coup. Previous deadlines have come and gone as divisions between Ecowas governments and fears of popular rebellion caused jitters.

At the start of this week the invasion threats were mixed with hesitations. Several state parliaments, including in regional powerhouse Nigeria, have already said no to any potential military action. Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso have refused to provide troops to Ecowas and pledged military support to Niger in any conflict.

But Western imperialism will want to see action or a deal with Niger’s leaders that keeps out rivals to France and the US. French imperialism is on the retreat in the region—its leaders won’t want to be chucked out of Niger too.

In addition, Bazoum has collaborated closely with French and European Union efforts to block migrants’ access to North African countries. Russia and China have seized on the West’s reverse in Niger and are making “anti-imperialist” noises. But they offer nothing progressive and are intent on entrenching their own power and control of natural resources.

Capitalism offers no future to hundreds of millions of people in Africa. None of the contending outside powers or the feuding military groups will break from the system that brings deep poverty, environmental collapse, war and repression.

In Sudan, to the east of Niger, people rose against and removed the dictator Omar al‑Bahir in 2019. The revolution could have provided a way forward for workers and the poor in Sudan and inspired similar movements elsewhere. But liberal forces restricted the movement, and the ruling classes and their armed forces hit back.

More recently sections of the military have turned on each other in a bloody civil war. After four months of intense fighting, morgues in the capital Khartoum have reached their capacity, aid workers say. This has left corpses to rot on the streets as doctors warn of a looming cholera outbreak.

The disaster is the latest horror after months of fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. This began in mid-April as both parties tried to wrest control of the country for themselves. On average, a child is killed or injured every hour, the Unicef child welfare agency calculates.

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