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Cumartesi, Nisan 20, 2024

Niger Terminates Military Cooperation Agreement with the United States

Mutlaka Oku

TurkishJournal – Enes Kılıç –

The Niger government has taken the decisive step of terminating its military cooperation agreement with the United States, effective immediately. This move comes amidst growing tensions between the two nations and a shift in Niger’s strategic alliances.

Unannounced Visit Sparks Discontent

The catalyst for this decision appears to be a recent visit by a high-level US delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and AFRICOM Commander General Michael Langley. According to the Niger government spokesperson, the delegation failed to adhere to diplomatic protocol, neglecting to inform Nigerien authorities about their arrival, agenda, and delegation composition.

Following the visit by the delegation, according to AFP, the State Department stated the talks will focus on “Niger’s return to democracy”.

Implications for US Presence

The termination of the agreement directly impacts the presence of approximately 1,000 US troops stationed in Niger. These troops have been instrumental in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region, utilizing a major drone base located in Agadez, Niger.

The agreement’s dissolution extends to this drone base, which the US constructed at a cost of $110 million and maintains with an annual expenditure of $30 million. The base has served as a crucial intelligence and surveillance hub for US operations in the Sahel.

In recent years, the country has faced ongoing security challenges posed by militant groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The US have played a significant role in supporting Niger’s counterterrorism efforts.

Shifting Alliances

Niger’s decision to sever ties with the US aligns with its recent actions to distance itself from former colonial power France. In November 2023, Niger completed the withdrawal of all French troops from its territory.

The military junta, which seized power in July 2023, has adopted a more assertive stance in managing Niger’s foreign relations. The termination of military agreements with both the US and France highlights this shift.

Uncertain Future

The future of US-Niger relations remains uncertain as the consequences of this decision continue to unfold. Niger’s strategic position in the Sahel region and the presence of US troops complicate the situation. With communication channels strained and military cooperation severed, the US and Niger face a diplomatic tightrope walk. One thing is certain: the US strategic alignment in the Sahel region is likely to be redefined, at least as soon as the junta government is there to stay.

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