The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. “The Watchdog” goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.
The world holds its breath. Last month, the Nigerien military overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, declaring an end to his corrupt reign and a new era of anti-imperialist, pan-African struggle. While most Nigeriens actually support the move (a new poll found that 73% of the country wants the army to stay in power), Niger’s West African neighbor Nigeria has strongly objected and has tried to organize an invasion force to restore Bazoum.
The regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has condemned the events in Niger. But its 15 member states are split on how to react. Western powers, however, including France and the United States, have supported boots on the ground and even considered sending troops themselves – a move that could draw Russia into a conflict that could make Libya or Syria look minor by comparison.
While the coup has been opposed in the West, Hundeyin explains that inside the country, the military is seen – rightly or wrongly – as a leading “anti-imperialist movement; a popular movement against French imperialism.”
A number of African countries, including Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, have strongly encouraged the new military junta, with some even promising to send troops to Niger to defend the revolution. Algeria, too, Niger’s neighbor to the north, has stated that it will not stand by and watch it being invaded.
The threat of invasion is far from an idle one. Since 1990, ECOWAS has launched military interventions in seven West African countries, the most recent being in the Gambia in 2017. The group’s actions have ignited significant pushback across the region, with many describing it as a tool of Western imperialism.
Currently leading ECOWAS is Nigerian President Bola Tinubu. Tinubu has earned plaudits in the West as a defender of democracy and someone not willing to let another country be taken over by the army. Yet Hundeyin was highly critical of his actions, describing him as someone who is “acting as a diplomatic puppet and seems determined to drag Nigeria into a war which nobody wants.” This includes, it seems, the Nigerian military, who leaked documents to Hundeyin in an attempt to stymie Tinubu’s invasion plans.
Yet, while Tinubu has been praised in the media, his own background calls into question his democratic credentials. As Hundeyin’s reporting exposed, Tinubu made his fortune from trafficking heroin in Chicago and had hundreds of thousands of dollars seized by the U.S. government. There are many other U.S. cases against Tinubu that have never seen the light of day, prompting many to speculate that he is an American intelligence asset.
Will the new government succeed? Will Africa be plunged into war? And what is the U.S. role in all of this? To find out more, watch the full interview here.
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.