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The United States is withdrawing troops from Niger after Russians from the former Wagner PMC appeared there

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr22,2024

The United States is withdrawing troops from Niger after Russians from the former Wagner PMC appeared there

Photo:  Getty Images

The United States will withdraw more than 1,000 of its troops from Niger, forcing President Joe Biden's administration to reconsider its counterterrorism strategy. In addition, the withdrawal of American troops from this African country would be a strategic victory for Russia, writes The Guardian.

The decision to withdraw troops came a month after the ruling military junta in Niger canceled a security pact with the United States. which allowed American troops to be on its territory to help fight jihadist terrorism.

U.S. officials had hoped that behind-the-scenes talks could salvage the 12-year-old agreement, which was in jeopardy on March 15 when a junta official said publicly that continued U.S. military presence in Niger was “illegal.”

In the end America did admit defeat after a meeting in Washington this week between Kurt Campbell, the deputy secretary of state, and Niger's Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zein.

The troop withdrawal, expected to happen in the coming months, will mean the closure of the US drone base, known as Base 201, in Agadez in the Sahara, which opened in 2018 at a cost of $110 million.

The base, one of the main US drone sites in Africa, has been used in operations against jihadist groups in the Sahel region and has reportedly become the launching pad for a series of deadly strikes against Islamic State terrorists. in Libya in 2019.

Niger's relations with Washington have remained strained since July last year, when democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown in a coup. He remains under house arrest, despite American calls for his release.

Russian influence in Africa

After the coup, Niger's new leaders began to seek more close ties with Russia, as do neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, where Russian armed forces are stationed.

Just days after Russian military equipment and advisers arrived in the country, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Niger's capital, Niamey, last week to demand the withdrawal of US troops.

According to Russian reports, the newly arrived troops were part of the Russian the so-called Afrika Korps — a new paramilitary formation created to replace the private military company “Wagner”, which was previously supervised by a war criminal, Russian Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin was an ally of Vladimir Putin until he led an unsuccessful uprising against the Russian leadership last year. As a result, exactly two months after his uprising, Prigozhin died in a plane crash. These two months before his death, the mercenary leader offered the services of the Wagner PMC leaders of the coup in Niger after they seized power.

American military leaders have warned of the spread of Russian influence in the Sahel, a semi-arid region in the southern Sahara that stretches from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, and in other parts of Africa at America's expense.

Niger is moving closer to Iran and Russia

Niger is moving closer to Iran and Russia

Niger is moving closer to Iran and Russia

Americans sounded the alarm when Niger's Prime Minister Lamine Zeine visited Moscow last December to discuss military and economic ties and then traveled to Tehran the following month to meet with Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president.< /p>

Senior State Department and Pentagon officials visited Niger earlier this year in an attempt to keep the military agreement in place.

The visit was unsuccessful, with Nigerian figures expressing anger over what they said were unfounded suspicions Americans regarding negotiations to give Iran access to Niger's uranium resources, which could contribute to the development of Tehran's nuclear program.

As The Guardian notes, the withdrawal of American troops from Niger follows the expulsion of French troops as a result of last summer's coup.

Prepared by: Sergey Daga

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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