Niger Cuts Military Ties with United States

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

A Nigerien military spokesman, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, announced during a press conference on March 17th his country’s intention to cut military ties with the United States with ‘immediate effect.’ 

The statement comes just after the U.S. Embassy in the country announced a visit by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander, and AFRICOM Commander General Michael Langley on March 12th. 

In a televised address, Abdramane stated that the U.S. delegation failed to follow diplomatic protocol and did not inform the Nigerien government of its agenda. 

“The Nigerien government, taking into account the aspirations and interests of its people, decides in any case to denounce with immediate effect the agreement relating to the status of U.S. military personnel and civilian employees of the US Department of Defense on the territory of the Republic of Niger. A diplomatic correspondence will be addressed to the US party to this effect.”

“Also, the government of Niger forcefully denounces the condescending attitude accompanied by the threat of retaliation from the head of the American delegation towards the Nigerien government and people,” said Abdramane. 

The Details:

Following a coup led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani, which deposed Niger’s elected President Mohamed Bazoum in July 2023, the U.S. military, which previously had around 1,100 personnel in the country, reduced its force to an estimated 648. 

These remaining forces were concentrated at Agadez City’s U.S. Airbase 201, which is a hub for drone operations in the Sahel and cost around $100 million to build, although operations were significantly reduced after Tchiani took power. 

Both MQ-9 Reaper armed drones and C-17 Globemaster III transport planes operate out of the airbase, which leaves questions regarding their future and the future of counterinsurgency operations in the Sahel, particularly if US forces are not able to conduct routine maintenance on the crafts. 

So, What Now?:

First ending relations with France, this latest development signals Niger’s full departure from the west’s sphere of influence, cementing itself among the Russian bloc. 

In January, a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed Moscow’s intent to develop military relations with Niger, although the details of this potential defense pact have not yet been released. 

The United States’ exit from the country is likely to embolden Islamic extremists in Niger and abroad, with ISIS-Sahel (ISIS-GS), Boko Haram, Islamic State-West Africa (ISIS-WA), and al-Qa’ida affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) heavily active in the region. 

Additionally, Russian mercenary group Wagner, which employs a ‘resources for protection’ strategy in Africa, has been reported to be operating in the country since Tchiani’s coup, although reporting on the group’s activities has diminished since the death of leader Yevgeny Priogzhin in August 2023.