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Nigeriens gather in a street to protest against the U.S. military presence, in Niamey, Niger April 13, 2024.

REUTERS/Mahamadou Hamidou

Niger Pivots from the Eagle to the Bear

Hundreds demonstrated in Niger's capital, Niamey, on Saturday to demand the removal of US troops, much as they called for the exit of French forces last year. Niger’s military coup in July 2023 has brought changes to the central African nation, including a shift in military alliances. The nation is deepening its relationship with Moscow, as evidenced bythe arrival last week of Russian military trainers tasked with bolstering Niger’s air defenses.

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File Photo: Nigerien troops, May 23, 2022.

Michael Kappeler/dpa via Reuters

Niger wants US troops out

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.

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People demonstrate in Niger's capital Niamey to show their support for the coup plotters.


What’s next for Russian operations in Africa?

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, recently killed in a plane crash, was scarcely known outside diehard Russophile circles.

Prigozhin’s celebrity status rose further after this summer’s short-lived mutiny, when, after feuding with Russia’s military leadership, he led thousands of his men from the frontlines in eastern Ukraine toward the heart of Moscow in protest.

Since Prigozhin was killed last week in an explosive event that few believe was an accident, there’s been much speculation about the future of Wagner and its global operations, particularly across Africa, where the group has invested the bulk of its manpower in recent years.

Now that the man at the top is dead, along with his main deputies, what does this mean for the group’s surreptitious activities across the world’s fastest-growing continent?

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The last French convoy from Operation Barkhane, prepares to leave Gossi, Mali.


The UN’s dangerous withdrawal from Mali

The UN this week laid out a timeline for withdrawing peacekeeping troops from the West African state of Mali – a mission that UN chief António Guterres has called “unprecedented” because of the vast logistical and security challenges.

Roughly 13,000 UN peacekeepers and police – and 1,786 civilian staff – will be out of the country by Dec. 31, with their infrastructure handed over to Mali’s military government. The withdrawal of UN forces, who’ve been in the country for a decade, is a huge development in a state long plagued by ethnic strife, poverty, and Islamic insurgents.

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Candles are placed at a makeshift memorial near the former PMC Wagner Center, associated with the founder of the Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

REUTERS/Anastasia Barashkova

Wagner and Russia’s next moves

Russia has confirmed the identities of the 10 people who died in a plane crash last Wednesday northwest of Moscow. They included Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, as well key associates Dmitry Utkin and Valery Chekalov.

The question now turns to what happens to Wagner forces and the group’s clients, particularly African nations that are of strategic importance to Russia. Can President Vladimir Putin pick up where Prigozhin left off?

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Putin breaks his silence on Prigo

Almost 24 hours after the plane presumed to be carrying Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin exploded midair outside Moscow – presumably killing him and Wagner’s top military commander Dmitry Utkin – Vladimir Putin has broken his silence. On Thursday, the Russian leader sent his condolences to the families of the 10 people killed in Wednesday’s massive explosion.

(For more on Prigozhin’s failed June mutiny, which brought him on a collision course with his boss, see our explainer here.)

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Prigozhin presumed dead
Prigozhin presumed dead | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Prigozhin presumed dead

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Yevgeny Prigozhin, former head of Wagner Group and would-be putschist against Vladimir Putin's Kremlin and Russia, is no more. It was an unprecedented story, that coup attempt against Putin's regime. This was the man who, of course, had been built up and so loyal to Vladimir Putin with the most powerful paramilitary organization in the world, fighting a battle on the ground in Ukraine and fighting against the Minister of Defense and others, losing that battle and deciding to turn his forces against the Russian regime. First, in Rostov and capturing the seat of the Southern command, and then marching him probably on to Moscow, where at the final moment he backs down and agrees to a quote unquote deal with Putin. Putin, who went on national media and referred to Prigozhin as a traitor.

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Russian mercenary Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in military gear.


Wagner's Prigozhin presumed dead

A private aircraft reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group warlord who launched a failed mutiny against the Kremlin back in June, has crashed outside Moscow, killing all 10 aboard, according to Russian state media.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency says it is investigating the cause of the crash in the Tver region north of Moscow, which happened 30 minutes after the jet, headed for St. Petersburg, took off. Moscow says that Prigozhin’s name was included on the passenger list.

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