U.S. Military to Withdraw Troops From Niger

More than 1,000 American military personnel will leave Niger in the coming months, Biden administration officials said on Friday, upending U.S. counterterrorism and security policy in the tumultuous Sahel region of Africa.

In the second of two meetings this week in Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell told Niger’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, that the United States disagreed with the country’s turn toward Russia for security and Iran for a possible deal on its uranium reserves, and the failure of Niger’s military government to map out a path to return to democracy, according to a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic talks.

The decision was not a particular surprise. Niger said last month that it was revoking its military cooperation deal with the United States following a highly contentious set of meetings in Niger’s capital, Niamey, with a high-level American diplomatic and military delegation.

That move was in keeping with a recent pattern by countries in the Sahel region, an arid area south of the Sahara, of breaking ties with Western countries. Increasingly, they are partnering with Russia instead.

American diplomats have sought in the past several weeks to salvage a revamped military cooperation deal with Niger’s military government, U.S. officials said, but in the end they failed to strike a compromise.

The talks collapsed amid a growing wave of ill feelings toward the U.S. presence in Niger. Thousands of protesters in the capital last Saturday called for the withdrawal of American armed forces personnel only days after Russia delivered its own set of military equipment and instructors to the country’s military.

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