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Niger Citizens Rally for U.S. Military Exit Amid Growing Russian Influence

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Griffith Sarah

Apr 13, 2024

Shift Toward Russian Military Partnerships

One hand-written sign in English read "this is not washington in french," in a show of support for the junta and its decision in mid-March to revoke an accord that had allowed around 1,000 U.S. military personnel to operate on its territory out of two bases.
Rioters demanding the exit of U.S. troops from their country.

Niamey, Niger - This past Saturday, the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, echoed with the voices of hundreds demanding the exit of U.S. troops from their country. This significant public demonstration comes after the ruling junta severed a key military agreement with the United States and expressed a warming stance towards Russian military cooperation.

Growing Discontent with Foreign Military Presence

The protest, characterized by a sea of Nigerien flags and a spirit of nationalism, mirrors previous anti-French demonstrations which ultimately led to the withdrawal of French forces last year. Demonstrators are now turning their attention to the American military presence, which had been justified as a countermeasure to the decade-old Islamist insurgency in West Africa's Sahel region.

Maria Saley, a vocal protester, summarized the sentiment of many:

“We're here to say no to the American base, we don't want Americans on our soil.”

Shift Toward Russian Military Partnerships

In a striking shift, the junta’s decision to welcome Russian military instructors marks a potential pivot in Niger’s international military alliances. This move has raised concerns among the populace regarding the future of foreign military bases in Niger.

Abdoulaye Seydou, coordinator of the M62 coalition and a leader in last year’s anti-French protests, expressed caution about welcoming foreign military assistance:

“We must not subsequently see the implementation of Russian foreign military bases.”

Uncertain Future of U.S. Military Cooperation

Despite the junta’s revocation of the military accord with the U.S., which previously allowed around 1,000 U.S. personnel to operate in Niger, the future of American troops in the country remains in limbo. March statements by a top U.S. general suggested some level of continued support within the junta for a U.S. presence, hinting at complex internal dynamics.

Regional Implications of Shifting Alliances

The shift towards Russian involvement comes as neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso have also distanced themselves from former Western allies. The geopolitical realignments in the region could have profound implications for the balance of power and the ongoing efforts to stabilize the Sahel.

As Niger navigates its new diplomatic course, the international community watches closely, anticipating the impacts on regional security and the global fight against terrorism in the Sahel.

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