U.S. Losing Influence in Africa as Russia and China Gain Popularity, Survey Shows

The U.S. is losing influence in Africa's Sahel region as Russia and China gain ground, raising concerns about regional security and counterterrorism efforts. Coups and resentment toward France have led countries to seek support from Eastern powers.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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U.S. Losing Influence in Africa as Russia and China Gain Popularity, Survey Shows

U.S. Losing Influence in Africa as Russia and China Gain Popularity, Survey Shows

The United States is facing declining popularity in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region, as Russia and China make significant gains, according to a recent survey. The U.S. is losing influence in countries like Niger and Chad, where it has been conducting critical counterterrorism operations. Niger's ruling junta has ended an agreement that allowed U.S. troops to operate in the country, while the government of neighboring Chad has also questioned its agreement with the U.S.

The reversals have prompted concern that U.S. influence in Africa is losing ground to overtures from Russia and China. U.S. officials are working to negotiate new agreements with these countries, but if they are ultimately asked to leave, the military will have to find different methods to run counterterrorism missions across the Sahel region.

Successive coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have been accompanied by resentment toward France, the former colonial power, and a transition towards seeking support from Russia and China. Niger's government has expelled French troops and is reducing the U.S. presence in the country, moving toward closer cooperation with Russia and China. A $400 million deal with a Chinese state oil company has helped Niger's cash-strapped government.

Why this matters: The transition from Western to Eastern alliances in the Sahel raises questions about the future of regional security and stability, as the West appears to take a more passive role. The shift in influence could have significant implications for counterterrorism efforts and geopolitical dynamics in Africa.

A recent Gallup poll shows strong approval for Russia and China in many parts of the Sahel, with China recording its highest approval rating in Africa in over a decade, surpassing the U.S. by two percentage points. The arrival of 100 Russian soldiers in Niger this month marked the "final death knell" for the presence of U.S. forces, who have been based in the country since 2013.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Niger was set in motion in March when a junta spokesperson described the military deal between the two as illegal. Niger's main reason for embracing Russia is to "protect the regime," particularly from France, which it has accused of plotting its demise. Russia can provide Niger with anti-aircraft defense.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. losing influence in Africa's Sahel region to Russia and China
  • Niger, Chad ending military agreements with U.S., shifting to Russia, China
  • Coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger fueling resentment towards France, West
  • Gallup poll shows rising approval for Russia, China in Sahel over U.S.
  • U.S. forced to find new methods for counterterrorism ops in Sahel