Pentagon Reports Agreement with Niger to Withdraw Troops by Mid-September

On Sunday 19th, the Pentagon and Niger defense officials agreed that American troops would leave the country and complete their withdrawal by 15th September. Speaking in a joint statement, they said the two countries had reached a disengagement agreement which is per Niger’s ruling junta, to have the US troops exit the country. 

The agreed deadline means the US has about three months to withdraw more than 1,000 troops and their equipment from Niger’s soil. The report comes after the two parties met in the West African country’s capital city of Niamey to discuss the matter.

Niger’s decision to oust American forces is a big blow to US military operations in the Sahel, a region which is prone to terrorist operations by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.

The U.S. Army offers lucrative sign-up bonuses, similar to welcome bonuses you might find on online casinos or trading platforms, alongside a comprehensive benefits package for those who enlist as contract soldiers.

The troops in Niger will leave. Their time and contracts in the West African country are over. This is because the ruling militia demanded their withdrawal. Thousands of Nigeriens had even protested for the immediate departure of the US soldiers last month.

One of the protestors held a banner saying, “US army, you leave, you vanish, no bonus, no negotiation.”

waning appetite for western powers

The US military won’t be the first Western power told to leave Niger. French troops were already told to gather their equipment and go. The orders came from the military junta. They have been in power for almost a year.

The military junta overthrew the elected government last year in July 2023 and launched the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) to rule the country. Since then, Niger seems to be cutting ties with the West while at the same time allying with Russia.

A month ago, Russian military instructors were deployed to Niger as part of a new agreement with the country to combat jihadists in West Africa.

The Russian troops now share a base with the American forcesat the capital of Niamey. Besides distancing itself from the West, Niger has also eradicated the local democracies and welcomed stronger alliances with fellow military-led nations like Mali and Burkina Faso. 

The three countries have exited Ecowas which was against their military takeovers. They have also ended their relationship with the G5 Sahel force from France and formed their own defense pact namely the Alliance of Sahel States.

Negotiations for withdrawal are ongoing

In March, Niger’s military government declared the end of their accord with the US forces, making it ‘illegal’ for the military and civilian staff from the American troops to operate in their country.

A month later, citizens took to the streets, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the foreign troops. It now makes sense that the US would send a delegation to negotiate with Niger’s ruling military junta on a plan that would initiate the safe and secure withdrawal of the forces and their clearance for military flights.

During the sensitive negotiations, overflight and landing clearances for military personnel were key talking points. In the meantime, the US would decide what kind of equipment to remove from Niger and what would remain in the country.

The remaining troops on the ground were also tasked with keeping an eye on US personnel and the equipment still in the country as transport plans were made. 

The assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, Chris Meier, led the US delegation—the chief of staff of the Nigerian army, Col.-Maj. Mamane Sani Kiaou led the Nigerien delegation.

Is this it?

For at least the past 10 years, America’s Defense Department and the Niger military have had a solid collaboration. Their mission is to counter terrorism in West Africa. Previously, the US carried out its operations from Agadez and Niamey bases.

From these bases, the Pentagon was able to carry out reconnaissance missions with their drones. Currently, the US troops are only at the base at Niamey. They are there alongside Russian troops, who have also begun their operations at the capital.

Would there be a potential future relationship between the US and Niger? 

Despite the decision, the US believes there is a potential relationship with Niger. One senior defense official said that the West African country wanted to maintain a relationship with them.

This is because their past work on counterterrorism goes back over a decade. In the joint statement, the US and Niger agreed they would continue working together on areas of common interest. Both parties said they were committed to ongoing diplomatic dialogue to define the future of their bilateral relations. 

According to a senior military official, the Nigeriens were keen not to lock the door on any future engagements. Throughout the discussions, which were held for 5 days, both parties thought it was important to emphasize that the troops leaving did not end their relationship. 

Overall, they thought that a new relationship would be rekindled after the CNSP tabled their new desires for future negotiations.

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