Niger cuts ties with US military

The junta that has governed Niger since a July 2023 coup said that it is ending the country’s military agreement with the United States “with immediate effect.”

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland military government (also known as the CNSP), announced the news on national TV on Saturday, March 16.

“The US presence on the territory of the Republic of Niger is illegal and violates all the constitutional and democratic rules which would require the sovereign people […] to be consulted on the installation of a foreign army on its territory,” Abdramane said

It’s not immediately clear what this means for the hundreds of American troops currently operating inside Niger. According to a White House letter in December, the United States has 648 troops stationed in the country, down more than 400 personnel since prior to the July coup in NIger. American forces were providing training to security forces in the country prior to the coup, and have been operating a pair of drone bases in Niger. The two, Air Base 101 in the capital of Niamey, and Air Base 201 near Agadez, are air fields which the United States military uses for counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in West Africa. After a pause in drone operations after the coup, flights resumed last fall. 

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Following the coup, the U.S. moved much of its personnel from Air Base 101 to Air Base 201.

Task & Purpose reached out to the Department of Defense about what Niger’s announcement means for the American forces there, and if operations at the drone bases would be disrupted. 

“We are aware of the CNSP’s Facebook post, which follows frank discussions at senior levels in Niamey this week about our concerns with the CNSP’s trajectory. We are in touch with the CNSP and will provide further updates as warranted,” a U.S. military official said in a statement to Task & Purpose.  

The State Department directed Task & Purpose to an identical statement State Department spokesman Matthew Miller posted on X on Saturday evening.

On July 26, a group of Niger military members seized power and deposed President Mohamed Bazoum. The group demanded the exit of French forces from the country, but American troops remained.

The CNSP’s announcement came only a few days after an American delegation, including the head of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Michael Langley, visited Niamey. Abdramane criticized the delegation, both for its critiques of the junta’s actions and for an apparent lack of transparency over who would be participating in it.

“The government of Niger forcefully denounces the condescending attitude accompanied by the threat of retaliation from the head of the American delegation towards the Nigerien government and people,” he said in his television address.

In December, France withdrew its forces out of Niger, after agreeing with the military government to end its presence in the country. France had been working with the United States on counterterrorism operations in the Sahel, operating out of Niger.

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Source link: https://taskandpurpose.com/news/niger-cuts-ties-us-military-drone-base/ by Nicholas Slayton at taskandpurpose.com