Jihadis Celebrate Gabon Coup, Latest In Africa, As Sign Of Waning Western Power; Supporters Of Iran-Backed Militias Rejoice Over Rising Influence Of Russia And China; Syrian Jihadis Denounce Both Russia And West, Hope For More Coups Against Arab Regimes

August 31, 2023

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On August 30, 2023, a military junta overthrew Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had served as president of the Central African country of Gabon since 2009, shortly after the announcement of his reelection. Bongo and his family members were placed under house arrest, while the parliament was dissolved, the country's borders closed, and General Brice Oligui Nguema declared interim president.

Bongo under house arrest after being deposed.

The coup in Gabon made the country the most recent former French colony in Africa to have its government overthrown, following Mali,[1] Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Tunisia,[2] and Niger,[3] all of which saw coups in the past three years.

Among those commenting on the Gabon coup were jihadis, including supporters of Iran-backed Shi'ite militias, Syrian rebels, and Islamic State (ISIS) supporters. All of them celebrated the deposition of the pro-France Gabonese president and described the overthrowal of pro-France African rulers as a sign of waning French and Western influence in the continent in favor of Russia and China. However, while supporters of Iran-backed groups welcomed Russian and Chinese involvement as better serving the interests of Africans, Syrian jihadis claimed that both the West and Russia exploit underdeveloped countries. One post by a Syrian jihadi hoped that similar revolutions will spread to Arab countries as well, while a pro-ISIS channel commented on the decline of French influence and the rise of Russia's with indifference.

Iran-Backed Groups: Coups In Gabon And Other African Countries Demonstrate Worldwide Decline Of France And 'Liberal Western Minority,' Russia And China Will Increase Influence Based On 'Pluralism And Shared Interests'

The Althawrah daily newspaper, published by Yemen's Iran-backed Ansar Allah Movement (the Houthis), published an article on August 31 about the recent coups in Gabon and other African countries, titled "Volcano of Coups Shakes French Influence in Africa." The article predicts further coups in African nations, due to "escalating anger" over French and Western "colonialism" and the plundering of natural resources, which has continued following these countries' formal independence. It adds that the West's failure to stop the July 26 coup in Niger emboldened Gabon's military to seize power, predicting that French and Western influence in Africa will continue to decline, either due to military coups or political and economic changes, while Russia and China will increase their influence, creating "new alliances based on pluralism and shared interests, in place of unilateralism and the political monopoly of great powers."[4]

The "Writing and Analysis" Telegram channel, which supports Iran-backed militias in Iraq, celebrated the "blessed military coup by the people and army of Gabon against the government of the French occupation in Gabon," claiming it as the most recent manifestation of the West's defeats. The channel claimed the West is losing in Ukraine, where "Russia is crushing the NATO alliance combined," as well as in the BRICS countries, Latin America, and West Asia, and now in Africa, where it is being "exhausted and expelled." It added: "Are we not correct when we describe them as 'the liberal Western minority and its colonies'?"[5]

Syrian Jihadis Claim Africans Are Rising Up Against French And Western Control, Russia And The West Both Exploit Nations; Wish For Revolutions To Spread To Arab World

Commenting on the coup in Gabon, which came only a month after the Niger coup, Syrian jihadi Abu Muhammad Nasr asserted that "the African nations want to be liberated from Western, especially French, hegemony." He added that the main beneficiary of these coups is Russia, which is gaining influence in Africa at the expense of the West, and further claimed that both Russia and the West "work to plunder the countries' resources and impoverish the nations."[6]

Another Syrian jihadi, Khalil Al-Muqdad, who identifies himself as an independent "political writer and researcher," noted that the Gabon coup was preceded by others in former French colonies in Africa and claimed that the continent is "rising up against the French colonial heritage with all its legacies." Calling this an "important, fateful, dramatic change," he asserted that African nations can no longer bear "the haughtiness and tyranny of France and the West," which have imposed "ignorance, hunger, and poverty" on them. He added the wish for the "plague" of revolutions to spread to Arab countries, so they can be freed from the "embalmed mummies which have stolen, plundered, impoverished, made hungry, oppressed, and decimated crops and families."[7]

Pro-ISIS Channel: Gabon Coup Victory For Russia, Part Of France And West's Defeat In Africa

The pro-ISIS Bariqah News Agency published an August 30 Telegram post titled "And French Influence Continues to Decline in Africa," noting that the latest military coup in the continent deposed Gabon's "taghout [literally "false deity," a reference to rulers who govern by manmade law] allied with France." The channel added: "It appears that Russia managed to persuade another African army to seize power in the country and work for the benefit of new masters. At the same time, France and the Western-allied countries in the region are unable to solve the problem of the coups which come close to ending the French presence in the black continent forever."[8]


[1] See MEMRI JTTM Report: Jihadi Reactions To Mali Coup: From Celebration To Indifference, August 23, 2020.

[4] August 31, 2023.

[5] Telegram, August 30, 2023.

[6] Telegram, August 30, 2023.

[7] Telegram, August 31, 2023.

[8] Telegram, August 30, 2023.

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