U.S. Military Withdraws from Niger on Sunday Amid Russian Military Presence

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WASHINGTON, July 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. military will complete the withdrawal of its personnel from Niger’s Air Base 101 in the nation’s capital on Sunday, and will subsequently focus on exiting a major drone base in the coming weeks, a U.S. general reported on Friday.

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In April, Niger’s ruling junta ordered the U.S. to withdraw its nearly 1,000 military personnel from the country, following a coup last year in the West African nation. This development marks a significant setback for Washington.

Before the coup, Niger was a key partner in the U.S. fight against insurgents in the Sahel region, which has seen thousands killed and millions displaced. Washington is now seeking alternative strategies in West Africa, but progress is slow, and U.S. intelligence on extremist groups in the region is diminishing.

Air Force Major General Kenneth Ekman, coordinating the departure, stated that the U.S. exit from Air Base 101 will be finalized with a ceremony on Sunday evening. The base is located next to Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey.

“We will hold a joint ceremony marking the departure of the last U.S. C-17 aircraft. The government of Niger will assume control of former U.S. areas and facilities,” Ekman said via video conference.

As the U.S. exits, Russia has deployed military forces to the same base for training activities. U.S. officials report no contact between U.S. and Russian personnel, with assurances from Niger that the two forces will be kept separate.

Niger’s military rulers have given the U.S. until September 15 to remove its troops, which includes leaving a $100-million drone base near Agadez in central Niger. This base, known as Air Base 201, provided crucial intelligence on groups allied with al Qaeda and Islamic State. Ekman indicated that the withdrawal from Air Base 201 could be completed by next month.

Regarding the morale of U.S. forces, Ekman noted it was “mixed” during his visits to the two bases. Despite the uncertainty, U.S. military officials hope to maintain some form of future security relationship with Niger, given the long-term investment in military ties.

“We’ve enjoyed over 15 years of close partnership pursuing mutual security objectives. As we leave, our goal is to do so responsibly, quickly, and amicably,” Ekman said. The U.S. is withdrawing valuable equipment but leaving the bases in good condition to preserve future options for both nations.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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