The French army claimed that it did not ask Algeria to use its airspace for a military operation in Niger.
This is despite Algeria stating that France’s permission to use the airspace had been refused as the north African country opposes military intervention in Niger, a country struck by a military coup on July 26 of this year resulting in the deposing of the country’s democratically elected, President Mohamed Bazoum, reports Reuters, August 22.
A report by Algerian State Radio on August 21, confirmed that the French asked for permission to use the airspace to carry out military operations in Niger and that Algeria did not grant such use.
It is French President Emmanuel Macron’s latest gaffe, as he has become increasingly unpopular in France, particularly since his reelection in 2022.
A poll on August 2 carried out by news outlet Politico, shows that the French President has an underwhelming approval rating of 31%. He has been under scrutiny in the past few months as a dispute over pension reforms has resulted in violent protests breaking out in the country.
Algeria has voiced its concerns about an armed intervention in Niger. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said in early August that, “A military intervention could ignite the whole Sahel region and Algeria will not use force with its neighbours.”
The Sahel region is currently facing a crisis as not only has it had to deal with several coups, but it has also seen the prominence of violent insurgencies with links to ISIS and Al-Qaeda over the past decade.
Niger’s neighbouring countries, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea have also been alarmed at a potential military intervention saying it could also result in conflict in their countries as well as in Niger.
French forces have been kicked out of Burkina Faso and Mali as the Sahel region has seen a rise in anti-French sentiment as well as anti-western feeling more generally.
Many countries in the region have been ditching their traditional western allies whilst offering an olive branch to Russia. Following July’s coup (seen as being pro-Russian) in the west African state, a rally in Niger’s capital city, Niamey took place, a demonstration where a high number of Russian flags were present.