“It is clear that this is not our war; it is a war [waged by] America and France,” said the prominent Shia scholar on Saturday while addressing Islamic Seminary students in Abuja, further insisting that Washington and Paris may attempt to spark a crisis between Nigeria and Niger.
The Nigerian cleric went on to point out that although Niger has closed its airspace, French aircrafts still pass through, noting that they also maintain “terrorist” camps across the country that are the source of attacks waged by the Boko Haram Daesh-linked terrorists.
“That’s where they come from, to launch attacks and ferret away mineral resources (gold) to be subsequently shared among them (the stakeholders),” he further emphasized.
Zakzaky also expressed concerns about the potential employment of such terrorists to wage assaults against Abuja and make it look like Niamey is responsible and vice versa.
“Therefore, any military action on the borders of the two countries, be assured that it is the handiwork of France and America, not Nigeria, and not Niger,” he underlined.
The Muslim leader further insisted that the two colonialist powers could trigger a ‘tribal’ conflict within Niger, just like they have already done in Sudan, among various ethnic groups there.
The pro-West government of Niger’s former president Mohamed Bazoum was toppled in a military coup on July 26 and remains in military detention since then and is facing trial for committing treason against the West African nation.
Zakzaky’s warning came as reports said the West African bloc of countries, ECOWAS, had agreed on a date for possible military intervention in Niger to reverse the military coup.
Nigeria has said a military intervention would “practically exacerbate the crisis and inflict further suffering on the innocent people in the Niger Republic and the wider region.”
Niger’s neighboring states of Mali and Burkina Faso have also pledged that foreign intervention would be tantamount to a declaration of war on them.
The two countries dispatched warplanes Friday to Niger in a show of solidarity against possible military intervention by the ECOWAS, Niger’s state television said.
“Mali and Burkina Faso turned their commitments into concrete action by deploying warplanes to respond to any attack on Niger,” it said, noting that the planes were Super Tucano fighter jets.
Thousands of anti-West protesters took to the streets last week to protest against plans by West African nations to deploy a military force to the country.
The protesters surrounded a French military base in Niger, protesting against years of military intervention by the European country that had colonized numerous West African nation and continues to exert influence in the region.
Protesters rallied near the army base on the outskirts of the capital Niamey on August 11, shouting, “Down with France, down with ECOWAS.”
Niger’s military leaders have blamed France for being the major force behind ECOWAS’ determination to re-install Bazoum back to power to continue serving Western interests.
France was a colonial power in West Africa until 1960. Since independence, the European country has maintained trade relations and a military presence in the region. It has 1,500 soldiers in Niger. American and other European military forces are also deployed in attempts to make sure the impoverished nation remains subservient to Western interests.