Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

American forces lose Sahel strategic position by leaving Niger.

By triji May 16, 2024
News

Following the ruling junta’s rejection of the military cooperation deal with the United States, Washington dispatched a mission to Niamey in order to discuss the circumstances according to which American forces would be leaving the country.

By sending a delegation to Niger on Wednesday, May 15, to discuss the modalities of withdrawing their troops, which is a requirement of the military regime that came to power in July, the United States is getting ready to abandon a strategic position in Sahel, where Russia and Iran are gaining ground. This is a requirement of the military regime that came to power in July. In March, the authorities in Nigerien issued a statement stating they disapproved of the military cooperation arrangement that was in place with the United States. They stated that the presence of American soldiers who were deployed as part of the war against jihadists was now considered “illegal.”

American drones and planes have been able to carry out surveillance flights in a broad territory with porous borders, where armed organizations (most notably jihadists) and drug trafficking are prevalent. Since 2019, Air Base 201, which is situated on the outskirts of Agadez (North), has been able to provide this capability. The Reaper drones used by the United States military have the capability to fly across the territory of Niger and reach the borders of nations such as Libya, Chad, Nigeria, and Mali, all of which have limited capacity for aerial surveillance.

The ruling military in Niamey urged that the United States withdraw its personnel after authorities in Washington voiced concern about the “potential relations with Russia and Iran” that Niger may have. Niger is the third country in the Sahel region to undergo a coup d’état and to dissolve its partnerships with Western countries in order to gravitate towards Russia. This comes after Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which have experienced them.

Indications of a close relationship with Iran

American authorities are concerned about what will happen to the uranium deposits in Niger, which is the seventh largest producer in the world. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has dramatically boosted its stock of enriched uranium over the past few months. Additionally, Tehran has strengthened gestures of rapprochement with Niamey after the coup that took place on July 26, 2023. However, in an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Niger, Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine, gave the assurance that “nothing” had been inked with Iran in relation to uranium.

At the end of the year 2023, it was expected that there were 650 American soldiers stationed in Niger, in addition to a few hundred contract workers. Some of these soldiers are currently stationed in Niamey at the Agadez air base, which is another inside air base 101 of the Nigerien armed forces. They are there alongside other international contingents working together. As part of the fight against jihadists, the majority of American soldiers were stationed in Niger and the adjacent country of Chad. However, as a result of the coup, all military cooperation in Niger was ceased until further notice.

Special troops from the United States of America had previously conducted covert operations alongside the army of Niger against Islamist organizations. An ambush committed by the Islamic State (IS) organization took place on October 4, 2017, in the village of Tongo Tongo, which is located in the Tillabéri region. The village is around twenty kilometers away from the border with Mali. Four American soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in the ambush.

Additionally, American drones provided assistance to the Nigerian military in its fight against the jihadist organizations Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) in the southeast region of the nation, which is located in close proximity to Nigeria. According to the Department of Defense, the United States of America finally began its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in September 2023. However, the Department of Defense stated that these operations were only carried out for the sake of “protecting American forces.”

An ineffectively perceived presence of foreigners

After the country of Niger gained its independence from France in 1962, the United States of America began providing the country with military hardware of various kinds. In addition to armored vehicles, military transport planes, observation aircraft, and transmission and communications infrastructure… As part of the effort to combat the jihadists, these supplies have risen in frequency. Since 1980, the Nigerien army and its officers have also had access to the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. This program offers financial support for the education and training of international military professionals, including those who are attending institutes and academies in the United States.

Since the beginning of time, the general populace of Nigerien has held a negative attitude toward the presence of foreign forces on its turf. According to the results of a study conducted by Afrobarometer in 2022, almost two-thirds of Nigeriens “disagree that the government uses foreign military forces to secure the country.” In this country, where armed groups continue to carry out assaults despite the commitment of Western partners, the departure of French forces in December did not give rise to much political controversy.

According to Amodi Arrandishou, president of a platform of civil society organizations in Agadez, “the Agadez region finds no use in the presence of the Americans.” This statement was made to the AFP news agency. “The Americans remained on our soil without doing anything when the terrorists were killing our populations and burning communities,” the Prime Minister continued on Tuesday. “They did nothing.”

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By triji

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