All US Troops to be Withdrawn from Niger by September



The US is withdrawing 1,000 military personnel from Niger, with all American troops expected to leave the country by mid-September 2024. The withdrawal follows a worsening of US-Niger relations after the ousting of Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, by the military, and an unsuccessful attempt by the Biden administration to resolve the ensuing crisis. The move risks undermining counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region and comes as Sahel countries increasingly form partnerships with Russia instead of Western nations.

U.S. Begins Military Withdrawal from Niger

The U.S. is commencing the withdrawal of 1,000 troops from Niger, with the complete exit slated for Sept. 15, as confirmed by the U.S. and Nigerien governments. This move signals an end to the Pentagon’s longest counterterrorism partnership in Africa’s volatile Sahel region.

In a joint statement, the two nations outlined withdrawal terms, which were announced by the Biden administration last month. Senior Pentagon officials and Nigerien military representatives met in Niger’s capital, Niamey, to coordinate the orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The statement also mentioned that both militaries have agreed on procedures to facilitate U.S. personnel’s entry and exit, including clearance for military aircraft. Niger’s military reiterated on social media that the withdrawal would be completed with mutual respect and transparency by mid-September 2024.

Strained U.S-Niger Relations and the Impact on Troop Withdrawal

U.S. relations with Niger have seen a steady decline since a military coup ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in July 2023. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis failed, and Niger terminated its military cooperation deal with the U.S. in March 2024.

This decision aligns with a growing trend among Sahel region countries to sever ties with Western nations, increasingly partnering with Russia instead. Around 100 Russian military instructors arrived in Niger in early April, representing Africa Corps, a new paramilitary structure replacing the now-defunct Wagner Group.

Implications of U.S. Military Withdrawal from Niger

The withdrawal has implications for counterterrorism and broader security in the Sahel. The U.S. is in early-stage discussions with West African nations like Ghana, Togo, and Benin regarding future military partnerships. However, the loss of two key bases, including a six-year-old, $110 million installation in Agadez, will significantly impact U.S. strategic access and influence.

While it remains uncertain under what terms the Pentagon might resume training or other security assistance, the senior Defense Department official hinted at the desire of Nigerien army officers to maintain ties with their American counterparts. The future of the base in Agadez and the possibility of Russian forces moving in if Niger’s relations with the Kremlin deepen, also remains unclear.

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