Niger orders the U.S. military out and invites Russia in

by Steven Sahiounie, Strategic Culture:

 

Niger has demanded American troops to leave the country “no later” than 15 September, and the U.S. has agreed. The official statement said the two countries had “reached a disengagement agreement to effect the withdrawal of U.S. forces, which has already begun”.

The U.S. had relied on Niger as its primary military base, but U.S. threats led to the rupture of military ties, according to Niger’s Prime Minister Zeine, who blamed the U.S. for the breakdown in bilateral relations, culminating with the “Yankee Go Home” order.

In April, street demonstrators in Agadez, Niger demanded the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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A crucial military relationship between Washington and Niger, its closest West African ally, dissolved after a visiting U.S. official made threats during last-ditch negotiations over whether American troops based there would be allowed to remain, according to Zeine.

On March 17, Niger broke off military cooperation with the U.S., as military leaders move closer to Russia. A senior U.S. delegation left the country the day before, following an unsuccessful 3-day visit to renew contact with the military leaders that ousted the former president.

The government of Niger decided to “denounce with immediate effect” the agreement relating to U.S. military and civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense inside Niger, which operated a desert drone base built at a cost of U.S.$100 million.

In July 2023, a military coup overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who had been close to Washington, and the U.S. had cut aid to Niger in the aftermath. Niger’s military had in the past worked closely with the United States, but are now looking to cooperate with Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid a visit to Niger in 2023 in hopes of shoring up Bazoum, a stalwart ally of the U.S., but just four months later, the military deposed Bazoum and put him under house arrest.

The military took a hard line against former colonial power France, forcing the withdrawal of French troops in place for nearly a decade last year.

China has focused on economic engagement in Africa, while funding infrastructure development through its Belt and Road Initiative. China’s investment and aid without attaching conditions such as political and economic reforms have attracted many African leaders who have come to resent what is perceived as Western meddling in internal affairs, where U.S. aid is conditioned on domestic politics.

In March, Niger announced the end of its military agreement with the U.S. Military spokesperson Col. Amadou Abdramane accused the U.S. of raising objections about the allies that Niger had chosen. Abdramane condemned the U.S. for its “condescending attitude” and “threat of reprisals”.

American forces have used two military bases in Niger, and has more than 1,000 troops stationed at the base.

As Niger has distanced itself from the West, it has drawn closer to Russia, and last month, Russian military instructors arrived in Niger as part of a new agreement with its military leaders.

Niger has also quit the French-backed G5 Sahel force, saying it was ineffectual and undermined African sovereignty, and launched their own defense pact called the Alliance of Sahel States.

Era of Global Transformations

The U.S.-China rivalry revolves around global factors. The post-World War II global order is evolving, with the U.S. losing its dominance, while China emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse, extending its influence worldwide.

The Western-led global order is plagued with an ideological crisis driven by unfair distribution of wealth that breeds resentment among the poor.

The Global South, are gaining significant influence and power themselves. In Africa, China’s investments have empowered nations to diversify their economies and enhance their global standing while also reinforcing the nation’s leaders.

The U.S. prioritizes militarism and capital accumulation over values such as human rights and democratic governance, while China emphasizes socio-economic rights but restricts civil liberties to support economic growth and social cohesion. Capitalism became the governing logic of the economy, in both the U.S. and China, which has improved living standards for many but has sustained inequality, polarization, and distrust in institutions.

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