After US exit, Germany to end ops in Niger

Niger was a hub for the US military’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region…reports Asian Lite News

US troops have finalised their withdrawal from Niamey, Niger’s capital, and are set to depart from Agadez in the north by September 15, as per the country’s military rulers. Niger’s military, which took power in a July 2023 coup, terminated its military cooperation with the US in March. The US had approximately 650 soldiers in Niger engaged in anti-jihadist operations across several Sahel nations, including a significant drone base near Agadez.

In a joint statement, Niger’s defence ministry and the US Defence Department confirmed the completion of the withdrawal from Niamey’s base 101. The last US troop flight departed Niamey late Sunday. Of the 950 troops previously stationed, 766 have departed Niger since the military directive.

Moving forward, US forces will focus on exiting air base 201 in Agadez, with the withdrawal expected to meet the September 15 deadline. Concurrently, Niger has ordered the withdrawal of French troops and bolstered ties with Russia, which has provided training and equipment.

In related developments, Germany’s defense ministry announced the cessation of operations at its Niger air base by August 31, following failed negotiations with Niger’s military leaders. Similar military shifts are occurring in Mali and Burkina Faso, where jihadist violence persists under military governance.

Niger was a hub for the US military’s counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region, but Washington’s withdrawal comes in response to a demand by the military leadership which seized power in July 2023.

The junta cancelled a military cooperation agreement with the US in March, and spokesman Amadou Abdramane justified the termination with reference to “condescending behaviour” and an alleged threat of reprisals by a US delegation.

US media have already reported on the withdrawal plans and on Thursday, the New York Times said the Pentagon will also withdraw dozens of US special forces from neighbouring Chad in the days ahead.

Before the military took power, Niger was seen as a close ally in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration to Europe and a last democratic partner to the EU and US in the region.

The transition triggered a serious diplomatic crisis in the region, and neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso have also pivoted away from the West towards Russia. Moscow sent Niger an air defence system and 100 military trainers at the start of the month.

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