Coup in Niger Casts Doubt on Key US Military Presence Against Sahel Militants

The coup in Niger has sparked worries about the viability of upholding the 1,100-member US military presence in the country, which has been recognized by experts and authorities as vital in combating Islamist militants in the Sahel region.

Coup in Niger Casts Doubt on Key US Military Presence 

Two anonymous U.S. officials have stated that the United States has not been approached with any demand to withdraw its troops from Niger and currently has no signs suggesting that such a request will be obligatory.

Considering the potential intervention by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the offer of assistance from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group to the coup organizers, both of which may endanger the security of U.S. military personnel, American strategists might need to envision a scenario where they lack a presence in a region of Africa grappling with insurgencies and where the United States competes with Russia and China for influence.

In the last ten years, American military personnel have provided training to the Nigerien armed forces in counterterrorism strategies and managed two military installations, with one of them dedicated to executing drone operations against the Islamic State and an Al Qaeda affiliate in the vicinity.

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Coup in Niger Casts Doubt on Key US Military Presence – Photo by: (Anadolu Ajansi)

Revocation of Military Agreements with France

Following the removal of President Mohamed Bazoum from power on July 26 and his subsequent house arrest, the junta nullified military collaboration pacts with France, which maintains a contingent of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 troops within the nation.

The Biden administration has chosen not to formally designate the military takeover in the coup in Niger, a classification that might limit the scope of security assistance that the United States can offer to the country.

Nevertheless, in the previous week, the United States temporarily halted specific foreign aid initiatives for Niger and announced on Tuesday that this suspension encompasses financial support for international military education and training as well as initiatives aiding Niger’s counterterrorism capabilities.   If the coup in Niger leaders decide to ask the Wagner Group, an organization that the U.S. classifies as a transnational criminal organization, for assistance, this situation might become even more complicated. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner Group, has expressed support for the coup in Niger and indicated his group’s readiness to restore stability.

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