US agrees to military withdrawal from Niger in major setback

Washington, April 20 (IANS): The US administration has agreed to withdraw around 1,000 troops from Niger over the months ahead, US media and television in the West African country have reported.

The decision comes in response to a demand from the West African country's military junta, which cancelled a military cooperation agreement with the United States in mid-March.

Amadou Abdramane, a spokesman for the junta, said the move was based on patronizing US attitudes and an alleged threat of reprisals by the US delegation. The deal had previously allowed US troops and civil contractors of the US Defence Department to operate in the country.

The Washington Post reported that the US administration had opposed the step, which would affect efforts to combat terrorism in the region. It also places a question over the status of a US airbase built at a cost of $110 million just six years ago.

The Sahel which runs through Niger and its neighbours has become a hotspot for Islamist terrorism, with attacks rising in Niger following a coup last year.

The withdrawal is a considerable setback for the US, which had used the airbase to launch drones to monitor the vast region.

Before the July 2023 coup, Niger was seen as the West's last democratic partner and an ally in the battle against terrorism and migration to Europe.

Neighbouring countries Mali and Burkina Faso have also turned against the West and have improved relations with Russia. At the beginning of April, Russia sent an anti-aircraft system and 100 training personnel to Niger.




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Title: US agrees to military withdrawal from Niger in major setback

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