It seems that the African Sahel countries have more options to confront the pressures of Paris and Europe in general. In addition to the expulsion of French forces from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, the issue of irregular migration emerges as a significant pressure card in the hands of the leaders of these countries.
The military governor of Niger decided Abdul Rahman Tiani Employing the issue of irregular migration in confronting European leaders who refuse to recognize the coup authorities and call for the return of the ousted president. Mohammad Bazoom For his position.
The Nigerien army overthrew Bazoum on July 26, which plunged the country into a constitutional crisis and brought it into confrontation with France and European capitals.
“Western pressure and the threat of the Economic Community of West African States did not yield any results.”ECOWAS“For any retreat on the part of the military rulers, who continued the approach of their counterparts in Mali and Burkina Faso in fighting the French and European presence in general.
In continuation of the challenging approach, the military junta in Niger issued at the end of last month a decree repealing the “2015 Law”, which was the law signed by the country’s government in cooperation with the European Union in 2015 to combat irregular migration from Niger towards Europe.
The law imposes penalties of up to 7,000 euros and imprisonment from 5 to 10 years for those involved in facilitating irregular migration.
This law has previously faced criticism from local groups who saw it as a mechanism to serve European agendas and close the doors of livelihood to large segments of Niger's poor who depend for their livelihood on the expatriation of their children.
For years, the Agadez region in Niger has been a gateway for Africans to cross through Algeria and Libya across the Mediterranean to Europe.
According to United Nations estimates, this route witnessed the movement of 4,000 migrants every week without travel documents from various West African countries, which prompted the European Union countries to pressure Niger to enact a 2015 law that stipulates that the penalty for smuggling migrants may reach 30 years.
Reply to Europe
In response to the European Union's policies towards the military leaders in Niger, the government affiliated with the military junta in Niamey signed a decree abolishing the aforementioned law.
The new decree stipulated the repeal of the law and its consequences, starting from the date of its issuance on May 26, 2015.
The head of the ruling military junta in Niger, General Abderrahmane Tiani, said that the convictions issued under this law will be permanently canceled and its consequences will be cancelled.
The Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice in Niger, Ibrahim Jean Etienne, also confirmed that all those convicted under this law will be released.
Observers believe that the repeal of this law came as a result of the recent decision taken by the European Union countries requiring the EU countries to adopt a legal framework that allows the obstruction of entities and individuals that threaten peace and security in the State of Niger.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, the director of the Maghreb Center for Mauritanian Academic Studies, Dr. Didi Ould Salek, considered, “The attempt to break out of France’s control is the result of the desire of the peoples whose dreams Paris killed and worked to impoverish over the course of decades.”
Commenting on the decision of the military junta in Niger, the European Commission for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that she was concerned about the repeal of the migrant smuggling law.
She added that the aforementioned law contributed to a decrease in the rate of irregular arrivals to Europe, and reduced the number of deaths in the desert.
In the first half of this year, about two thousand people died by drowning in the Mediterranean, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.
The Organization for Migration says that the total number of migrants via the Mediterranean to Europe this year reached more than 82,000 people.
The European Commissioner in charge of internal affairs warned that the decision would lead to new deaths in the desert, which is the most worrying thing, as she put it, and indicated that this step would flood Libya with migrants, who consider it a main gateway to Europe.
Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, as the main transit countries in the Mediterranean, suffer from waves of illegal immigrants coming from Africa.
Withdrawal of French forces
Niger's decision to decriminalize immigration coincides with reaching final arrangements to complete the departure of French forces from their military base in Niamey and some other areas.
In a statement published two days ago, the Nigerian army confirmed that 1,300 French forces had left the country and left with 80% of their equipment and vehicles, according to the plan announced last August.
This withdrawal comes within the Franco-Nigerian disengagement process that began with the head of the military junta, Abderrahmane Tiani.
The French forces were deploying 1,500 of their soldiers in various areas of Niger, the most important of which was the capital, Niamey, and the bases near the gold mines.
Mali expelled French forces in 2022 and entered into broad military and economic coordination with Russia, seeking to reduce areas of French influence on the African continent.