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ARMED INSURGENTS AMBUSH NIGERIEN SOLDIERS AND MALAGASY POLICE TEARGAS POLITICAL RALLY

September 28-October 4, 2023 | Issue 34 - AFRICOM

Dan Flanagan, Megan Khalife, Antoni Mulock Houwer

Mia Sadler, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor


Administrative Regions Of Niger[1]


Date: September 28, 2023

Location: Kandadji, Niger

Parties involved: Niger; Niger junta; Niger military; Niger defense ministry; Islamist militant groups; Niger citizens; local community leaders; Burkina Faso; Mali;

The event: According to the nation’s defense ministry, hundreds of armed insurgents driving motorbikes killed 12 Nigerian soldiers on Thursday. Seven soldiers died in the attack, and five more died in a road accident while providing reinforcements. The attack occurred about 190 km (118 miles) west of the capital, Niamey, in Kandadji, a tri-border area with Burkina Faso and Mali, a hotspot for Islamist insurgency activity. Sources did not confirm who was responsible for the attack, as affiliates of al-Qaeda and IS are active in this area.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Militant Islamist groups will almost certainly continue attacking Niger’s military and infrastructure, likely exploiting the junta’s internal disorganization. Islamist groups will very likely appeal to Niger’s citizens for aid, likely seeking to portray the junta as oppressive and anti-Islamic. They will very likely employ guerilla and irregular warfare tactics to weaken the junta’s forces, very likely observing response times for future attacks. The junta will almost certainly expand operations against Islamist groups, likely targeting strongholds and populations sympathetic to their cause.

  • It is almost certain that Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger will extend their mutual defense pact to include counterinsurgency efforts, very likely to reinforce regional security and promote military cooperation. They will very likely focus on securing the tri-border area, almost certainly aiming to disrupt militants’ abilities to launch border attacks and move between countries. The three countries will very likely leverage the pact to organize real-time joint training operations for their militaries, very likely using performance assessments to form a coordinated regional response task force.

  • Civilian dissatisfaction with current national instability will very likely pressure local community leaders to voice disapproval of the junta’s methods and tactics. There is a roughly even chance that civilians will hold demonstrations against the junta, having very likely lost faith in the regime's ability to fight Islamist insurgents. The junta will very likely identify and detain leaders for inciting rebellion, very likely diminishing resistance and silencing dissent.


Date: October 2, 2023

Location: Antananarivo, Madagascar

Parties involved: Outgoing Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina; Madagascar; former Malagasy president Marc Ravalomanana; Malagasy law enforcement; Malagasy military; Malagasy citizens; Malagasy presidential election candidates; Malagasy candidate supporters; China; Chinese representatives

The event: On Monday, Malagasy police used tear gas to disperse presidential candidates and their supporters ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in November. Eleven candidates, including Ravalomanana, called for a rally on Place du 13 Mai, the customary site for all protests. As authorities dispersed the crowd, Ravalomanana’s bodyguards led him to a building courtyard. The rally was unauthorized, and several hundred officers subsequently cordoned off the square.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Clashes will very likely increase as the election date comes closer, exacerbating tensions between rival political factions and their supporters. Law enforcement will likely resort to more violent measures and increase arrests, almost certainly seeking to dissuade opposition supporters from protesting. Rajoelina will very likely consolidate his influence over law enforcement and the military to seek their support, very likely granting them more flexibility for rules of engagement during clashes. There is a roughly even chance rival candidates will support Rajoelina’s leadership, almost certainly motivated to join a military-backed campaign.

  • China will likely leverage its economic influence in Madagascar, threatening financial withdrawal if a hostile candidate assumes office. There is a roughly even chance that China will aim to influence the election directly, likely aiming to maintain its non-interference foreign policy. The election winner will likely meet with representatives of China, very likely seeking to reaffirm their intentions to retain Chinese investments in Madagascar.

 

[2] Niger junta says a dozen soldiers killed in militant attack, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-ten-niger-soldiers-killed-militant-attack-2023-09-28/

[3] Tear gas fired at opposition in Madagascar, Africanews, October 2023, https://www.africanews.com/2023/10/02/tear-gas-fired-at-opposition-in-madagascar/

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