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Were US soldiers really involved in Guinea’s latest coup?

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Guinea Coup – the Fall of Alpha Condé

By Fatoumata Diallo
Posted on Thursday, 16 September 2021 11:04

Screenshot of the video broadcasted by a.Conakry Live © DR

[Fact-checking] After a video was released showing a number of US marines celebrating the fall of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé, rumours started spreading about their possible involvement in the coup. Washington has formally denied them.

The video only lasts 36 seconds, but it was long enough to spark wild rumours about the role played by the West – France and the US in the forefront – in the fall of Guinea’s President Alpha Condé on 5 September.

In this video, which local media station aConakry Live shared on Twitter and which has nearly 100,000 views, we see at least three US soldiers, easily identifiable by their uniforms that bear the Star-Spangled Banner. The three men appear to be escorted by Guinean soldiers in uniform, with weapons in hand and their faces somewhat hidden by a khaki helmet.

Translation of Tweet below:

Just in: Is the US military complicit in the coup against Alpha Condé?

In this video, which we received from reliable sources, we see American soldiers, armed as in a normal theatre of operations, parading with members of the special forces

The video features a 4×4, which is stuck in a jubilant crowd that is chanting “Freedom! Freedom! Long live the Americans.” It was filmed by one of the marines on his smartphone.

Shot in Conakry

In addition to the images, the caption that aConakry Live wrote on its Twitter post strongly contributed to fuelling the rumours.

READ MORE Guinea Coup – the Fall of Alpha Condé

Is it fair to say that these US soldiers helped dislodge Condé from the Sékhoutouréya Palace? If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is the location. In this short video, there are clues which indicate that these images were indeed captured in Guinea. One of the vehicles carrying the US soldiers bears RC (“Région de Conakry”) 4362 AV, a license plate typical of private cars in the Guinean capital.

In the background, the presence of a beige building with an orange roof also proves that the images were filmed in Conakry. To be more precise, on Le Prince highway, in the vicinity of the Cosa-Bambeto axis – which is oppositionist Cellou Dalein Diallo’s stronghold – and less than 1km from the US embassy.

Washington embarrassed

Since then, US authorities have stated several times that they were not in any way involved in the coup perpetrated by Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya. For his part, Jordan Garcia, honorary consul of Guinea in California, tweeted that these soldiers from the US embassy in Conakry were being escorted, nothing more.

Translation of tweet below:

To those who have been sharing the video featuring US soldiers in a 4 x 4, I would like to point out that they are the escorting US soldiers  from the American Embassy, nothing more…

 

According to the New York Times (NYT), the soldiers were part of a team made up of a dozen Green Berets who had come to Guinea in mid-July to train about 100 men from the Special Forces, led by Doumbouya, at the Forécariah base. When they realised a coup was underway, the US military went directly to the US embassy in Conakry and suspended the training programme, said Kelly Cahalan, a spokesperson for the US Africa Command. Any coup is “incompatible with US military training and education,” she added.

Although the US regularly trains troops on the continent, mainly in counter-terrorism, this is the first time that a coup has taken place during a US military exercise.

On 10 September, the NYT reported that US officials were investigating reports that Lieutenant Colonel Doumbouya and the other coup plotters had left the Forécariah base in an armed convoy to carry out the coup. They escaped while their US instructors were sleeping, they said.

Although the US regularly trains troops on the continent, mainly in counter-terrorism, this is the first time that a coup has taken place during a US military exercise. US officials are confused about why Doumbouya carried out this coup when he was working so closely with their military.

But other putsches on the continent have already raised questions about the effectiveness of these US training programmes. In any case, Washington is extremely embarrassed, as this took place on their watch, and formally condemned the 5 September coup via a statement issued by its State Department spokesperson:

“The United States condemns today’s [5 September] events in Conakry. Violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity. These actions could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country as it navigates a path toward national unity and a brighter future for the Guinean people.”

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