Men in military uniforms on stage, raising their hands in the air.
August 6, 2023: General Abdourahmane Tchiani, Commander of the Presidential Guard Regiment, who headed the transitional government, attends the demonstration of coup supporters at a stadium in the capital city of Niger, Niamey. Photo: © picture alliance / AA | Balima Boureima.

Back in Business or Never Out? Military Coups and Political Militarization in Sub-Sahara Africa

This Spotlight discusses the resurgence of military coups in Sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that an analytical and political focus on coup events misses out on the bigger picture of military influence in politics. Introducing the new Multidimensional Measures of Militarization (M3) dataset, we demonstrate that African countries that were part of the recent wave of coups, previously showed signs of political militarization such as military veto powers and impunity. We conclude that these subtle forms of military influence can serve as early warning indicators for military coups.


Prigozhin's "mutiny" in Rostov on 24. June, 2023. A tank with flowers in its gun barrel.
Prigozhin's "mutiny". A tank with flowers in its gun barrel. | Foto: Fargoh via Wikimedia Commons | CC0 1.0

Russische Dolchstoßlegenden: Was bedeutet der Wagnermarsch nach Moskau langfristig?

Am 23. und 24. Juni 2023 zogen bewaffnete Kolonnen der russischen Söldner-Truppe Wagner unter Führung des russischen Oligarchen Prigoschin aus besetztem Gebiet in der Ukraine über Rostow und Woronesch gen Moskau. Ihr erklärtes Ziel: den russischen Verteidigungsminister Sergei K. Schoigu und den russischen Generalstabschef Waleri W. Gerassimow abzusetzen. Prigoschin warf ihnen vor, die russischen Kriegsführung gegen die Ukraine verraten zu haben.


In Burkina Faso people watchmilitary P H S Dambia in TV on Jan 27, 2022
Customers watch Lt. Col. Henri Sandaogo Damiba address the nation on national television in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 27 Jan. 2022 | Photo: Sophie Garcia | AP Photo

Looking back to understand the present: The coup in Burkina Faso and the legacy of regional interventions

The third military coup in West Africa in less than a year happened on 23rd January 2022 in Burkina Faso. The government of ousted President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was declared deposed, the constitution suspended, and parliament dissolved. The strong man behind the military take-over is Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. Initial international reactions have called on the military to engage in dialogue and return to democratically constituted order. A delegation of ECOWAS and UN high representatives arrived in Ouagadougou to hold consultations in the country which will inform the ECOWAS summit on 3rd February 2022. Eyes are on the regional body following its harsh sanctions applied against neighboring Mali. While comparison with Mali is important to understand developments in the Sahel region, looking at the current situation in Burkina Faso through the prism of previous coups in the country as well as local experiences of regional interventions might yield more fruitful insights to understand what is going on.


Bewaffnete Bereitschaftspolizei in der Nähe von Demonstranten in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, am 8. Februar 2021. Die Spannung in den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen den Behörden und den Demonstranten gegen den Putsch in Myanmar kochte über, als die Polizei einen Wasserwerfer auf friedliche Demonstranten in der Hauptstadt Naypyitaw abfeuerte (Foto: picture alliance/AP Photo).

Myanmars „Veto-Coup“ 2021: ein Interpretationsversuch

Militärische „Veto-Coups“ kamen in der Vergangenheit in den Staaten öfters vor, in denen die Streitkräfte eine führende gesellschaftliche Rolle einnehmen. In Südostasien spielt das Militär diese herausgehobene Rolle in Myanmar und Thailand – beide Staaten haben Erfahrungen mit Staatsstreichen gemacht. Am 1. Februar 2021 putschte in Myanmar erneut das Militär. Da die Armee des Landes enge und lange zurückreichende Verbindungen zur Armee Thailands hat und beide Armeen eine Tendenz zu Putschen haben, stellt sich die Frage, inwiefern der Staatsstreich vom Februar 2021 aus der Geschichte der Putsch(versuche) auf dem südostasiatischen Festland erklärt werden kann. Folgt Myanmar dem thailändischen Vorbild?


Photo: © picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS | STR)

China in transitionary Myanmar. Challenging paths to democratization and peace

The recent military coup in Myanmar reversed a decade-long experiment towards incremental political liberalization. At the same time, it also brought China’s engagement there back into the spotlight, and initial Chinese reactions led to suspicions that Beijing had welcomed or even aided the return to military rule. However, the reality of China’s role in Myanmar’s democratic transition and simultaneous peace process is far more complicated, and instructive for its overall engagement in conflict societies.


Armed riot police are seen near protesters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Tension in the confrontations between the authorities and demonstrators against last week's coup in Myanmar boiled over Monday, as police fired a water cannon at peaceful protesters in the capital Naypyitaw (Photo: picture alliance/AP Photo).

Interpreting Myanmar’s 2021 „Veto“ Coup d’etat

Military “Veto” Coups have been prominent in countries where armed forces have played leading roles in society. In Southeast Asia, militaries have been prominent in Myanmar and Thailand, and the two countries have experienced their fair share of coups. The latest putsch occurred on February 1, 2021 in Myanmar. With Myanmar’s military having had a long and close relationship with Thailand’s armed forces, and both countries’ militaries prone to staging coups, one wonders to what extent Myanmar’s 2021 putsch can be explained in the context of the history of coups in mainland Southeast Asia. Does Myanmar follow the Thai model?