In a surprising turn of events, the military junta in Niamey, Niger, has appealed to the Italian military to maintain its presence in the country. This request presents a unique opportunity for Italy to solidify its role in Africa and enact the 'Piano Mattei,' a strategy aimed at enhancing Italy's influence in the region.
Italy's Role in Countering Jihadist Advance
The Italian contingent is seen as a crucial force in curbing the jihadist advance in Niger. The stability of Niger plays a vital role in controlling migration flows, combating jihadist insurgency, and checking the progress of alleged mercenaries linked to Putin. As such, Italy's continued military presence could serve multiple strategic purposes, including counterterrorism and geopolitical positioning against Russian influence.
Niger: The Keystone of Sahel Region
Niger is often considered the keystone for the stability of the entire Sahel region. The recent repeal of a law criminalizing migrant trafficking in Niger, previously supported by the EU, could potentially disrupt migration management strategies from Africa. The fallout from this decision could allow trafficking gangs to resume transporting migrants into neighboring countries such as Libya or Algeria, further exacerbating the situation.
Implications for European Interests
The repeal of the anti-immigration law has sparked concerns among Western chancelleries regarding the fate of their agreements with Niger. However, Italy's continued military presence in Niger beckons a silver lining. It not only ensures protection for European interests but also provides a counterbalance to potential Russian influence in the region.