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US Finally Pulling Out of Niger Months After Government Ends Military Agreement

© AP Photo / Sam MednickNigeriens hold a Russian flag in Niamey, Niger, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.
Nigeriens hold a Russian flag in Niamey, Niger, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.07.2024
The United States has repeatedly delayed pulling its troops out of the Sahel country, forcing its government to set a September deadline.
The United States announced plans to complete the drawdown of its military presence in Niger Friday, four months after the government of the West African country terminated its security agreement with the US.
American personnel will leave “a small base” this weekend, according to reports, while some 500 troops will evacuate a large surveillance center in August. The drone base, known as Niger Air Base 201, has drawn particular controversy, serving as a major hub of the CIA’s spying operations in the Sahel.
The lavish $100 million facility was completed just six years ago and was the largest construction project in the US Air Force’s history. Critics questioned whether the United States would willingly abandon the costly investment, which was central to the country’s projection of power in the region.
“Our goal in the execution is [to] leave things in as good a state as possible,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman.
“If we went out and left it a wreck or we went out spitefully, or if we destroyed things as we went, we'd be foreclosing options,” he added, appearing to suggest Washington may seek to return to the facility in the future. Congress has designated the military uprising that led to Niger’s interim administration as a “coup,” although polling has revealed nearly 80% of citizens support the post-revolutionary government.
In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 and released by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan to support with an ordered departure of personnel from the city - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.04.2024
Withdrawal From Chad and Niger Foreshadows Collapse of US Hegemony
The United States has repeatedly dragged its feet in complying with Nigerien authorities’ request for American troops to leave the country, with US officials claiming they had not received a “formal request.” The continued US presence has generated local protest by government supporters.
Biden administration officials reportedly warned Nigerien authorities against efforts to pursue independence from the United States during a contentious meeting earlier this year. “They threatened Niger that if Niger is going that way, things are going to go very wrong for them in the coming months,” claimed geopolitical analyst Koffi Kouakou. Niger has sought enhanced security cooperation with Russia in the months since 2023’s change of government, while also strengthening economic relations with Iran.
“This is what really pissed off the United States,” claimed Kouakou on Sputnik’s Fault Lines program. “They are not allowing Niger to decide who they want to do business with.”
Supporters of Niger’s transitional government have been spotted waving Russian flags at pro-government demonstrations, while recent opinion polling reveals Moscow enjoys strong public approval in the country. “We want the Russians to come,” said one activist to US reporters last month. “We are waiting for them, waiting for them eagerly.”
The United States is thought to operate at least 29 bases in 15 countries across Africa, while former colonial power France is present in 10 countries.
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