US Planning To Pull Troops Out of Niger

US Planning To Pull Troops Out of Niger

( – The United States military has service members stationed across the world. Their purposes vary but typically align with promoting democracy, training troops, and defending national security. In Niger, the US military counteracts terrorism operations as part of Operation Juniper Shield. However, the Biden administration is discussing withdrawing troops from the region.

Revocation of Military Cooperation Deal

Last month, Niger officials revealed that they planned to revoke the country’s military cooperation deal with the United States, a move that fell in line with other nations in the region breaking ties with the West. Several meetings between high-level American delegations and Niger officials failed to reach a compromise. Moreover, the resulting decision will require more than 1,000 US troops to leave the region in the upcoming months. US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Niger Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine said they would work together to plan the withdrawal.

Troops entered Niger as part of a military operation in the Sahel region, an area just outside the Sahara. There are concerns that jihadi violence is spreading, particularly with a myriad of local factions pledging their allegiance to terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Additionally, the US military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars training local troops over the past decade. One senior military official spoke on condition of anonymity and said the deal falling through “is a tough blow on all levels.”

Turning to Hostile Forces

One of the reasons the cooperation fell through was that a large swath of countries in the Sahel region chose to partner with hostile forces, including Russia and Iran, following the ouster of Niger’s democratically-elected president last July by mutinous forces. After the junta took over, the new leadership turned its back on the West. Originally, the US hoped to help map out a path back to democracy, but those plans have fallen through.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed that discussions between the US and Niger to withdraw American troops have begun. He noted that the Department of Defense “is providing a small delegation from the Pentagon and [US] Africa Command to participate in the discussions.” However, he wouldn’t confirm a timeline, saying he would not speculate. Ryder also noted that the troop withdrawal would not end the US’ counterterrorism mission because the military planned “to continue to work with partners throughout Africa on that front.”

It’s unclear what the US military plans to do with the air base, a $110 million facility, in Agadez.

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