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Niger wants US troops out

​File Photo: Nigerien troops, May 23, 2022.

File Photo: Nigerien troops, May 23, 2022.

Michael Kappeler/dpa via Reuters

Niger’s military junta announced Saturday that it would end the agreement that allows US troops to operate in the country. Niamey said the pact was “profoundly unfair,” and cited a “condescending attitude” and alleged violations of diplomatic protocol during a high-level visit last week.

Washington has been trying to find ways to work with the military governments that have seized power in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali to combat extremist militants in the region. But at the same time, the Biden administration has pressured Niamey to set a timeline to restore democratic control and reportedly raised alarm at a possible deal to sell uranium to Iran, which seems to have led to the rupture.

What happens now? The US has about 1,000 troops in Niger and operates a drone base monitoring suspected militants in the north of the country. The State Department is aware of the demand but has not commented on next steps.

If US troops do pull out of their base in Niger, it would remove a major obstacle for Niger to expand its relationship with Russia, as juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso have. The former Wagner Group mercenaries have been absorbed into Moscow’s Defense Ministry and rebranded the Africa Corps, which is expected to deploy on the continent this summer.


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