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African state scraps military ties with US

Authorities in Niamey have decided to revoke the agreement with the US which allowed American military personnel and Pentagon’s civilian contractors to operate in the West African state, a spokesman for the post-coup government announced on national television.

  • “The National Council for the Protection of the Fatherland officially denounced… the military cooperation agreements linking the country to the United States of America,” spokesman Colonel Amadou Abdramane said in a statement on Saturday night.

The decision comes just days after a senior US delegation, which included the chief of US Africa Command, General Michael Langley, wrapped up its three-day visit to the African state.

  • The US team met several top Nigerien officials, including PM Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine – apparently seeking to negotiate a renewal of the deal – but failed to secure a meeting with the country’s leader, General Abdourahamane Tchiani.
  • “Niger regrets the intention of the American delegation to deny the sovereign Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and types of partnerships capable of truly helping them fight against terrorism,” Abdramane said.
  • The spokesman added that the American delegation has behaved in breach of diplomatic protocols, and did not even inform the hosts about the agenda and the date of their arrival.

Niger’s new government, which has been in power since the ouster of pro-western President Mohamed Bazoum last July, has taken a number of steps to cut ties with Niamey’s former military partners.

  • The coup leaders have cited the Bazoum government’s alleged failure to combat Islamist terrorists in the Sahel, despite the presence of foreign forces, including French troops, as the reason for the military takeover.

France completed the withdrawal of its troops from Niger in December, after the leadership in Niamey cut ties with the former colonial rulers and ordered their forces to leave.

  • However, Washington said that disengagement from Niger was not an option for the US, claiming it will forge “pragmatic” relations with the new military authorities – despite joining France and other Western allies in suspending aid to Niamey.
  • The United States currently has around 648 troops in Niger, mostly stationed at a $100-million desert drone base in Agadez, after “repositioning” some of its servicemen from the capital Niamey back in September. Since then, US drone flights in Niger have been limited to intelligence-gathering purposes with armed “counterterrorism” missions largely remaining on hold, according to the Pentagon.

In January, Russia and Niger agreed to develop “bilateral military and military-technical cooperation” and work together to stabilize the security situation in the West African Sahel region, following talks in Moscow between Nigerien defense chief Salifou Modi and his Russian counterparts.

Sourcr RT