Niger terminates military cooperation agreement with the United States

Niger, American military, Pentagon contractors, Nigerien government, Diplomatic protocols
Image: DW

In a significant geopolitical move, the West African nation of Niger has formally revoked its military cooperation agreement with the United States. The decision, announced by a spokesman for Niger’s post-coup government on national television, marks a pivotal shift in the country’s foreign policy and military alliances.

Colonel Amadou Abdramane, the spokesperson for the National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland, declared the termination of the agreement, which permitted American military personnel and Pentagon contractors to operate within Niger’s borders. This decision comes on the heels of a recent visit by a senior US delegation, led by General Michael Langley, chief of US Africa Command, who sought to negotiate the renewal of the deal. However, the delegation failed to secure a meeting with Niger’s leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani, signaling a breakdown in diplomatic relations.

The Nigerien government cited the desire for sovereignty in choosing its partners and the perceived failure of previous military cooperation in combating terrorism as reasons for the decision. Colonel Abdramane criticized the American delegation for breaching diplomatic protocols and failing to communicate their agenda effectively.

Niger’s recent political upheaval, characterized by the ousting of former President Mohamed Bazoum last July, has led to a recalibration of its international alliances. The coup leaders, dissatisfied with the Bazoum government’s approach to countering Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region, have opted to sever ties with former military partners, including France.

France, Niger’s former colonial ruler, completed the withdrawal of its troops from the country following the deterioration of diplomatic relations. Despite this, the United States expressed its commitment to maintaining a presence in Niger, emphasizing the importance of “pragmatic” relations with the new military authorities. However, the suspension of aid by Western allies, including France, poses challenges to Niger’s security landscape.

Currently, the United States maintains approximately 648 troops in Niger, primarily stationed at a desert drone base in Agadez. However, drone operations have been limited to intelligence gathering, with armed counterterrorism missions largely suspended since September. This shift underscores the evolving dynamics of US military engagement in the region.

In January, Niger took a significant step towards diversifying its military partnerships by agreeing to enhance cooperation with Russia. Talks between Nigerien defense chief Salifou Modi and Russian counterparts in Moscow centered on bilateral military and military-technical cooperation aimed at stabilizing security in the Sahel region.

The termination of the military cooperation agreement between Niger and the United States reflects a broader reconfiguration of geopolitical alliances in West Africa. As Niger navigates this transition, the implications for regional security and the balance of power remain uncertain.


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