World News

U.S. Military to Withdraw Troops From Niger

More than 1,000 U.S. troops will leave Niger in the coming months, Biden administration officials announced Friday, upending U.S. counterterrorism and security policy in Africa’s tumultuous Sahel region.

In the second of two meetings this week in Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell told Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine that the United States does not agree with the country’s shift towards Russia for security and Iran for a possible agreement on its uranium. reservations, and the failure of Niger’s military government to chart a path back to democracy, according to a senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic negotiations.

The decision was not a particular surprise. Niger announced last month that it was revoking its military cooperation agreement with the United States following a series of highly contentious meetings in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, with a high-level American diplomatic and military delegation.

The move is part of a recent trend by countries in the Sahel region, an arid zone south of the Sahara, to cut ties with Western countries. More and more, they are associating themselves with Russia.

U.S. diplomats in recent weeks sought to salvage a revamped military cooperation agreement with Niger’s military government, U.S. officials said, but ultimately failed to find a compromise.

The talks broke down amid a growing wave of resentment over the U.S. presence in Niger. Thousands of protesters in the capital last Saturday called for the withdrawal of US armed forces personnel just days after Russia delivered its own military equipment and instructors to the country’s military.

Niger’s rejection of military ties with the United States follows the withdrawal of troops from France, the former colonial power that over the past decade has led counterterrorism efforts against jihadist groups in West Africa, but has recently been seen as a pariah in the region. .

U.S. officials said Friday that discussions with Niger to plan an “orderly and responsible withdrawal” of forces would begin in the coming days and that the process would take months.

Many Americans assigned to Niger are stationed at U.S. Air Base 201, a six-year-old, $110 million facility in the country’s desert north. But since the military coup that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum and installed the junta last July, troops there have remained inactive, with most of their MQ-9 Reaper drones grounded except for those who carried out surveillance missions to protect American troops.

It is unclear what access, if any, the United States will have in the future to the base, and whether Russian advisors and perhaps even Russian air forces will move there if Niger’s relations with the Kremlin are deepening.

Due to the coup, the United States had to suspend its security operations and development assistance to Niger. Mr. Bazoum is still under arrest, eight months after his ouster. Nevertheless, the United States wanted to maintain its partnership with this country.

But the sudden arrival of 100 Russian instructors and an air defense system in Niger last week has made the chances of short-term cooperation even more unlikely. According to Russian state media Ria Novosti, the Russian personnel are part of the Africa Corps, the new paramilitary structure intended to replace the Wagner Group, the military company whose mercenaries and operations have spread across Africa under Yevgeny’s leadership. V. . Prigozhin, killed in a plane crash last year.

Protesters in Niamey on Saturday waved Russian flags as well as those of Burkina Faso and Mali, two neighboring countries where military-led governments have also requested Russian aid to help them fight insurgents affiliated with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

U.S. officials say they have been trying for months to prevent a formal severance of relations with Niger’s junta.

The new American ambassador to Niger, Kathleen FitzGibbon, one of the leading specialists on Africa in Washington, has spoken regularly with the junta since taking office at the start of the year.

During a trip to Niger in December, Molly Phee, assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, said the United States intended to resume security and development cooperation with Niger, even though she called for a rapid transition to civilian rule and the release of Mr. Bazoum.

But the Pentagon has planned for the worst eventualities if the negotiations fail. The Defense Ministry is discussing the creation of new drone bases with several coastal West African countries to reinforce the base in landlocked Niger. The talks are in their early stages, military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters.

Current and former security and diplomatic officials have said Niger’s strategically important location and willingness to collaborate with Washington will be difficult to replace.

J. Peter Pham, former U.S. special envoy to the Sahel, said in an email: “While ordinary citizens of Niger will bear the brunt of the consequences of a U.S. military withdrawal and loss of political attention and diplomatic crisis that will result, the United States and its allies also lose, at least in the short term, a strategic military asset that will be very difficult to replace.

News Source :
Gn world

jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button