U.S. and Niger Discuss Withdrawal of American Troops Amid Shifting Alliances

Niger ends U.S. military deal, seeks closer ties with Russia amid counterterrorism efforts and democratic transition. U.S. withdraws troops as both sides fail to reach an understanding on continued cooperation.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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U.S. and Niger Discuss Withdrawal of American Troops Amid Shifting Alliances

U.S. and Niger Discuss Withdrawal of American Troops Amid Shifting Alliances

Niger's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hassoumi Massoudou, met with U.S. officials in Niamey on Tuesday to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional security issues. The meeting comes as Niger's ruling junta has ended an agreement that allows U.S. troops to operate in the country, declaring their presence "illegal" because it was not democratically approved and imposed unfavorable conditions on Niger.

The U.S. has approximately 1,100 forces in Niger who have been training Nigerien forces in counterterrorism under previous governments. However, following the junta's decision to terminate the military accord in March, U.S. Ambassador to Niger Kathleen FitzGibbon and Major General Ken Ekman initiated discussions on the orderly and responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Christopher Maier and Lieutenant General Dag Anderson are set to hold follow-up meetings in Niamey next week to coordinate the withdrawal process with transparency and mutual respect. While the U.S. is proud of its security cooperation and shared sacrifice with Nigerien forces, the two countries have been unable to reach an understanding to continue this cooperation in a manner that addresses the needs and concerns of both sides.

Why this matters: The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Niger marks a significant shift in regional power dynamics, with Russia's influence growing in the Sahel region. As Niger moves to sever ties with the West, the country has been increasingly turning to Russia to address security threats, signaling a potential realignment of alliances in the fight against terrorism.

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell is expected to travel to Niamey in the coming months to discuss ongoing collaboration in areas of joint interest. The U.S. reaffirms its support for the Nigerien people as they combat terrorism, develop the country's economy, and transition to democratic rule. "The U.S. welcomes the CNSP's interest in maintaining a strong bilateral relationship," stated a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations.

Key Takeaways

  • Niger's junta ended U.S. troop presence, declaring it "illegal" and unfavorable.
  • U.S. and Niger discuss orderly withdrawal of 1,100 U.S. forces from the country.
  • U.S. officials to visit Niger to coordinate withdrawal process with transparency.
  • U.S. troop withdrawal marks shift in regional power, with Russia's influence growing.
  • U.S. reaffirms support for Niger in combating terrorism, economic development, and democracy.