Burkina Faso: Another US-trained soldier stages a coup in West Africa
Coups d’état by US-trained officers have become an increasingly common occurrence in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in West Africa.
Earlier this week, the military in Burkina Faso seized power, ousting the country’s democratically elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
The coup was announced on state television Monday by a young officer who named Burkina Faso’s new leader as Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the commander of one of the country’s three military regions.
Damiba is a highly trained soldier, thanks in no small part to the US military, which has a long record of training soldiers in Africa who go on to stage coups, according to a report by The Intercept, a US news organization.
Damiba participated in at least a half-dozen US training exercises, according to the report, citing US Africa Command, or AFRICOM.
In 2013 and 2014, Damiba attended the US-sponsored Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course-Africa. And in 2018 and 2019, he participated in engagements with a U.S. Defense Department Civil Military Support Element in Burkina Faso.
Damiba is just the latest in a series of coup leaders in West Africa trained by the US military as Washington has paid over $1 billion in assistance to promote “stability” in the region.
Since 2008, US-trained officers have attempted at least nine coups and succeeded in at least eight across five West African countries, including Burkina Faso (three times), Guinea, Mali (three times), Mauritania, and the Gambia.
Last summer, for example, American Green Berets arrived in Guinea to train a special forces unit led by Col. Mamady Doumbouya, a 41-year-old officer who had also served in the French Foreign Legion.
In September, members of Doumbouya’s unit stormed the presidential palace and depose the country’s 83-year-old president, Alpha Condé. Doumbouya soon declared himself Guinea’s new leader and the US ended the training.