Niger’s Junta Announces Termination of Relations with U.S. Military

Niger's junta revokes relations with U.S. military
A Nigerien official explains to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left the context of the jihadist crisis in Niger, at the US Embassy, in Niamey, Niger, Thursday, March 16 - Copyright © africanews Boureima Hama/AP

Niger’s Junta Announces Termination of Relations with U.S. Military

Niger’s junta made a significant announcement on state television, declaring that the presence of the U.S. military in the country is no longer warranted. This statement came following high-level discussions held this week between the junta and U.S. diplomatic and military representatives.

Niger holds a pivotal role in the U.S. military’s operations in Africa’s Sahel region and hosts a major airbase. The U.S. is deeply concerned about the escalating jihadist violence in the region, where local factions have aligned themselves with extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

While the junta’s spokesman, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, fell short of explicitly calling for the expulsion of U.S. forces, he announced the suspension of military cooperation with Washington. Furthermore, he denounced recent U.S. flights over Niger’s territory as illegal.

In recent years, the U.S. military has established a significant presence in Niger, operating a major airbase in the city of Agadez. This base serves as a hub for manned and unmanned surveillance missions and other strategic operations.

The United States has also made substantial investments in training Niger’s military. However, some elements of the Nigerien military were implicated in the July ousting of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohammed Bazoum.

In response to the coup, Washington officially classified the takeover as a coup d’état in October, triggering legal restrictions on military support and aid to Niger. Nevertheless, in December, the top U.S. envoy for Africa, Molly Phee, expressed a willingness to restore aid and security ties provided Niger met certain conditions.

The junta’s spokesman criticized the U.S. for what he described as a condescending tone that undermines Niger’s sovereignty. Since the July coup, Niger has terminated its security partnership with the European Union, and France has withdrawn its troops from the country.

This week, Phee and Marine Gen. Michael Langley, the head of the U.S. military’s African Command, met with senior officials of the Nigerien government in Niamey. However, Phee did not respond to requests for comment via email.

According to a White House report to Congress, the U.S. military had approximately 650 personnel stationed in Niger as of December.



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