Algeria Declines French Appeal to Utilize Airspace for Niger Operation, Disputed by Paris
Reports indicate that Algeria has rebuffed a French request to allow the use of its airspace for a military mission in Niger, where President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed in a military coup in late July. Algeria’s state radio highlighted this development, while France has denied seeking such authorization from Algerian authorities.
According to Algerian national radio, information emerged late on Monday suggesting that France was considering a potential operation against the new military rulers in Niamey if they did not release Bazoum, who has been in custody since July 26.
In response to Algeria’s refusal, France reportedly turned to Morocco, seeking permission to fly its military aircraft through Moroccan airspace. This information was relayed by the Nova News Agency, quoting state radio.
“Faced with Algerian refusal, France turned to Morocco, asking for authorization to pass its military planes through its airspace,” state radio said, according to the Nova News Agency.
France, maintaining a presence of around 1,500 troops in its former colony Niger, has been actively involved in counterterrorism efforts against jihadist insurgencies in the Sahel region. However, the leadership of the coup in Niger has accused France of planning military intervention to reinstate the ousted president.
The French foreign ministry has denied any intention of military intervention in the West African nation. Nevertheless, France has consistently expressed support for the efforts of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened to employ force to reverse the coup.
A source within the French army informed Reuters that France’s joint defense staff refutes the claim of making an appeal to fly over Algerian territory.
“France’s joint defense staff denies making a request to fly over Algerian territory,” a source in the French army told Reuters.
ECOWAS recently announced its decision to deploy troops to Niger if diplomatic efforts to reinstate Bazoum are unsuccessful. Countries like Benin, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria have displayed readiness to contribute troops to the bloc’s mission aimed at restoring democratic order in Niger.
Earlier, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune voiced concerns about the potential for armed intervention in the Niamey crisis, fearing the escalation of tensions across the Sahel region.
Algeria expressed its commitment to a peaceful resolution and opposed the use of an ECOWAS “standby force” against Niger’s military leaders, citing the complications often associated with military interventions.
In the midst of these developments, the African Union (AU) cautioned against external interference in Niger and suspended the country’s membership as a consequence of the coup.