Protesters in Niger Call for U.S. Military Exit as Russian Force Arrives

Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital of Niger on Saturday called for the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces personnel stationed in the West African nation, only days after Russia delivered its own set of military equipment and instructors to the country’s military.

The demonstration in the capital, Niamey, fit a well-known pattern in some countries in the region, run by military juntas, that have severed ties with Western nations in recent years and turned to Russia instead to fight extremist insurgencies.

“U.S. Army, you leave, you move, you vanish,” read one sign brandished by a protester. “No bonus, no negotiation.”

About 1,000 American military personnel are stationed at a remote drone base in Niger’s desert, from which they fly drones tracking movements of extremist groups in Niger and throughout the region.

But the United States suspended its military cooperation with Niger’s military last summer, when mutinous soldiers seized power in the country. That rupture has kept the drones grounded and the troops inactive. Last month, Niger ordered the U.S. troops to leave, declaring their presence illegal.

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