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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024

U.S. Troops to withdraw from Niger amid tensions and strategic shifts

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After intensive talks, the U.S. Agrees to a military withdrawal from Niger, signalling changes in its African engagements and raising questions about regional stability

In a significant development, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell met with Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine, culminating in an agreement for the U.S. military to withdraw from Niger. This decision follows a request from the Nigerian government and marks a pivotal shift in U.S. military strategy in Africa.

The discussions, confirmed by a State Department official, set the stage for further talks with the Department of Defense to establish a timeline for the withdrawal. This move is expected to drastically reduce the U.S. military footprint on the African continent but raises concerns about the strategic void it may leave, particularly as Niger’s ties with Russia and Iran deepen.

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The decision came to light during Campbell’s discussions with Zeine in Washington, D.C., where Zeine was attending the World Bank’s spring meetings. This was their second meeting this week, underscoring the urgency and importance of the negotiations.

The backdrop to this decision includes a series of complex diplomatic interactions. Last month, Niger formally announced the termination of its military cooperation with the U.S., a partnership that became untenable following a military coup last summer. The coup ousted the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum, leading to a pause in active U.S. military operations in Niger.

During their discussions, Zeine emphasized Niger’s continued interest in maintaining a partnership with the U.S., despite the military withdrawal. This desire to sustain ties contrasts with the situation involving French forces, which are also exiting Niger.

Complicating matters further, a whistleblower from within the U.S. ranks recently accused senior U.S. officials in Niger of suppressing intelligence to preserve the appearance of a strong bilateral relationship. This allegation adds another layer of complexity to the U.S.’s ongoing reassessment of its military and diplomatic strategies in the region.

Additionally, the U.S. faces challenges in Chad, where local authorities have threatened to terminate the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). This agreement outlines the operational conditions for U.S. military personnel in Chad and its potential cancellation could further destabilize U.S. military engagement in the region.

As the U.S. prepares to scale back its military presence, it will maintain its diplomatic missions in Niger, striving to preserve and reshape its influence in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

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