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The ongoing coup in Niger has opened up yet another battle for the US and Europe’s geopolitical influence, which could eventually touch off military conflict and materially reshape international uranium markets. As of 2021, Niger was the leading exporter of the yellow metal to European utilities, which rely on it to fuel their nuclear power plants. France is the most nuclear-dependent nation in the EU, but its status as a former colonial power in this region of Africa, as well as accusations of the country planning a military intervention to stop the coup, have culminated in a sudden halt to Niger’s uranium exports to France.

Niger’s newly-formed military junta has not exercised any aggression toward French and US troops stationed within the country, but the elimination of the elected government appears to be following a script previously laid out by Niger’s western neighbor, Mali, which was itself overtaken by a junta in 2021. When Mali’s military consolidated control over the country, French troops were expelled, while mercenaries of the Russian-headquartered Wagner Group were escorted in. Russia’s influence is expanding in west Africa and that could present enough incentive for the western world to begin some level of involvement in dislodging the Nigerien junta from power.

Related ETFs: SPDR S&P Aerospace & Defense ETF (XAR), Sprott Uranium Miners ETF (URNM)

An ongoing military coup in the African nation of Niger, which looks increasingly unlikely to be reversed without an intervention, could carry vast geopolitical implications for west Africa’s relations with the western world, and significantly impact the availability key commodities concentrated in the region. Niger’s armed forces claimed control of the government and a formation of a military junta on July 26, following the arrest of President Mohamed Bazoum by his own presidential guard. The army chief of staff officially issued support for the coup on July 27, solidifying the rebels’ power.

Demonstrations by pro-coup supporters have broken out in the wake of the President’s detention and have taken on a particularly “anti-imperialist” tone. One large demonstration took aim at the French Embassy, with protestors setting a part of the building on fire. Niger, once a keystone of France’s colonial holdings on the African continent, has remained a relatively close ally of the French government in recent times and, therefore, is likely viewed by those opposing the elected government as hostile to their ongoing coup.

Indeed, France opposes the coup and its President, Emmanuel Macron, lashed out in opposition against any violence related to “France and its interests” in Niger. In response, representatives of the junta have slammed Paris and accused it of planning a military intervention to reinstate Bazoum, likely instigating its supporters’ anti-French bend. While France has denied any plans or agreements for an attack, military actions by countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which Niger has now been suspended and sanctioned by, have been threatened. Two of Niger’s neighbors, Burkina Faso and Mali, each of which are also under the command of separate military juntas and have been suspended from ECOWAS, are backing the coup, stating that any military intervention against the Nigerien rebellion would be considered a “declaration of war” against their own nations as well.

Niger has continued to step up its anti-French rhetoric and on Monday said it would be halting the nation’s gold and uranium exports to France. A lack of Uranium exports from Niger could be a big red line for France, considering the country is…

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