US Military Initiates Troop Withdrawal Plan from Niger

U.S. officials announced plans to initiate the withdrawal of troops from Niger, dealing a setback to Washington and its regional allies’ security efforts in the Sahel. The move follows discussions between Niger’s Prime Minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, agreeing to commence planning for the withdrawal of American forces. While no specific timeline has been disclosed, talks are scheduled to commence soon to outline the next steps, with an American delegation set to coordinate the withdrawal process.

Niger holds strategic importance for U.S. military operations in the Sahel, where concerns over the proliferation of jihadist violence persist. However, strained relations between Niger and Western nations, exacerbated by a military coup, have led Niger’s junta to seek security support from Russia, prompting the U.S. withdrawal. Efforts by the U.S. to renegotiate the military agreement with Niger have faltered, leading to the decision to withdraw.

The loss of access to Niger’s air bases poses a significant challenge for the U.S. and its allies in the region, impacting security operations in the Sahel. Peter Pham, a former U.S. special envoy, highlighted the difficulty of replacing this strategic foothold. The rupture in relations could also affect development and humanitarian aid to Niger, a nation facing multiple challenges.

Despite the withdrawal, there remains potential for future cooperation between Niger and the U.S., with discussions ongoing on areas of mutual interest. Moving forward, experts suggest a reevaluation of engagement strategies, emphasizing accountability and human rights, while maintaining diplomatic ties with Niger.

About Geraldine Boechat 2707 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia