Niger’s Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Tour in Iran

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

Six months after the coup d’État in Niger, the country faces significant economic challenges due to sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the cessation of international aid.

Niger is currently struggling to repay some of its debts, accumulating payment arrears and witnessing a deterioration in its security situation. To forge new partnerships, Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine embarked on an extensive diplomatic tour, including visits to Russia and Iran.

During his visit to Russia preceding his stop in Iran, Mr. Zeine agreed to “intensify” military cooperation with the Nigerien army, which is grappling with jihadist groups.

Turning to the Iranian leg of his diplomatic mission, Tehran is actively engaging in a charm offensive in the Sahel region, strengthening its cooperation with military juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso over the past two years. This strategic initiative began under the presidency of Ebrahim Raïssi in the summer of 2021. Raïssi himself visited Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda in 2023, solidifying ties with African nations.

Iran, one of the most heavily sanctioned countries globally for decades, is now navigating a complex diplomatic landscape. Meanwhile, Niger’s economy bears the brunt of severe economic and financial sanctions imposed by ECOWAS following the military coup that ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum.

“Iran finds itself isolated on the international stage,” notes Hamid Talebian, a researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies and an expert on Iran’s African policy. Despite Iran’s challenges, the nation seems keen on expanding its influence in the Sahel region, presenting an opportunity for nations like Niger to explore alternative alliances.

Prime Minister Zeine’s diplomatic efforts highlight Niger’s determination to overcome economic hardships and security threats by seeking partnerships beyond traditional allies. The evolving geopolitical dynamics in the Sahel region and Iran’s diplomatic overtures underscore the complexities faced by nations navigating sanctions and political transitions.


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