Petroleum products transiting through Niger to Mali have been suspended as relations between the two countries enter a precarious phase.
It is a controversial decision.
In a note signed by the Director General of Customs, Niger has suspended transit authorisations for petroleum products to Mali not destined for the Minusma.
The same note dated 21 September also suspends "the use of authorisations already issued to complete formalities for petroleum products not intended" for the UN mission.
The head of Niger's customs service enjoins "the director of investigations, intelligence, risk analysis and litigation (DERAC), the regional directors of customs, the head of the Torodi office, the head of the Ayorou office, the head of the Gaya office, and all the commanders of the intervention and research brigades" to implement this measure.
The Malian authorities have not commented over this while their Nigerien counterparts have not given any explanation.
For many observers, this decision taken by the authorities in Niamey is seen as a reaction to the apparent hostility of the Malian transition authorities.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, the interim Prime Minister of Mali, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, sent barbs at President Mohamed Bazoum, calling him a foreigner in Niger.
The government in Niamey had predicted a few hours earlier the imminent capture of Ménaka by the Islamic State in the Sahel.
At the same time, Bazoum deplored the absence of the Malian army in this region.
However, Nigerian lawyer Souwaiba Ibrahim believes that Niamey's decision to suspend the transit of petroleum products to Mali has nothing to do with Maiga's speech at the UN.
"Already, the measure was taken on 21 September by Niger Customs, while Prime Minister Maïga held his speech on 24 September," the doctoral student explains in a twitter thread.
She adds that "the decision is due to the deterioration of the security situation on the Niamey-Gao axis, notably the absence of Malian soldiers in the area.
"Recently, armed individuals have been intercepting vehicles carrying goods, particularly petroleum products. Recently, terrorists intercepted tanker trucks carrying fuel bound for Mali and filled up their tanks, before returning a few days later to intercept other trucks carrying tea and rice. Since there are no soldiers in the area to escort the trucks, the transporters are forced to pay the right of way by the terrorists. This contributes to the financing of their operation. The ban is therefore taken to prevent them from getting supplies," she explains.
On the subject of the exemption granted to the Minusma, Souwaiba Ibrahim says that "it is because the Minusma has the means to escort its fuel".
Since 2012, Niger has been exporting petrol, diesel and butane gas mainly to Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali through the Société de raffinage de Zinder (SORAZ) and the Société nigérienne du pétrole (SONIDEP).