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Niger severs ties with US Army over 'condescending attitude'

March 17, 2024

The US operated a major drone base near Agadez to combat Islamist militants. But since a coup last year, Niger's ruling junta has cut ties with Western powers and moved closer towards Russia.

Nigerien soldiers in Niamey
Nigerien soldiers have taken over posts from French troops that withdrew from the Sahelian countryImage: Balima Boureima/Anadolu/picture alliance

Niger's ruling junta broke off its military cooperation agreement with the United States "with immediate effect" on Saturday.

Junta spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane said the deal had allowed US military personnel and civilian staff stay on Nigerien soil.

Niger has forged closer ties with Russia since a July 2023 military coup, while cutting ties with the West which led to the withdrawal of French troops that had been present for decades.

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What's behind the move?

The announcement came days after US officials visited the Sahelian country, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and General Michael Langley, head of the US Africa Command.

Abdramane said the US delegation did not follow diplomatic protocol and failed to inform Niger about the composition of the delegation, the date of its arrival or the agenda.

"Niger regrets the intention of the American delegation to deny the sovereign Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and types of partnerships capable of truly helping them fight against terrorism," Abdramane said

"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," he added.

The US Army had around 650 personnel working in Niger in December, including troops stationed at a major drone base near Agadez built at a cost of more than $100 million (€92 million) that was used to target Islamist militants in the desert.

zc/sri (AFP, Reuters)