US agrees to pull troops out of Niger

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All US soldiers are set to leave Niger, ending their role in the fight against Islamist insurgents.

Washington has confirmed finalized arrangements with the military rulers of the West African nation to withdraw its over 1,000 troops.

Additionally, the US has agreed to shut down its significant drone base near the city of Agadez in the Sahara desert.

Niger, situated in Africa’s Sahel region, is recognized as the new global focal point of the Islamic State group.

The US has utilized Niger as its primary hub for monitoring jihadist activity in the region.

A delegation from the United States is scheduled to depart for Niger’s capital, Niamey, within days to coordinate a systematic withdrawal.

Friday’s announcement comes after discussions in Washington between the US deputy secretary of state, Kurt Campbell, and Niger’s Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine.

This development is viewed as a setback for the administration of US President Biden, which had previously opposed such action.

The $100 million military base established by the US in Niger just six years ago has been integral to both American and French strategies in combating jihadists in West Africa.

However, Niger’s relationship with both Western nations deteriorated last year following the coup, prompting its military leaders to seek closer security partnerships with Russia.

Recent reports from state media indicate that dozens of Russian military instructors have arrived in Niger, bringing with them a state-of-the-art air defense system.

Niger has also distanced itself from local democratic institutions and has pursued stronger regional alliances with other junta-led nations like Burkina Faso and Mali.

This trio has withdrawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional body that opposed their military takeovers.

Furthermore, they have withdrawn from the French-supported G5 Sahel force, citing its ineffectiveness and its perceived infringement on African sovereignty, and have initiated their own defense agreement known as the Alliance of Sahel States.