U.S. to Withdraw Troops From Chad, Dealing Another Blow to Africa Policy

The Pentagon will withdraw dozens of Special Operations forces from Chad in the next few days, the second major blow in a week to American security and counterterrorism policy in a volatile swath of West and Central Africa, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The decision to pull out about 75 Army Special Forces personnel working in Ndjamena, Chad’s capital, comes days after the Biden administration said it would withdraw more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel from Niger in the coming months.

The Pentagon is being forced to draw down troops in response to the African governments’ demands to renegotiate the rules and conditions under which U.S. military personnel can operate. Both countries want terms that better favor their interests, analysts say. The decision to withdraw from Niger is final, but U.S. officials said they hoped to resume talks on security cooperation after elections in Chad on May 6.

The departure of U.S. military advisers in both countries comes as Niger, as well as Mali and Burkina Faso, is turning away from years of cooperation with the United States and forming partnerships with Russia — or at least exploring closer security ties with Moscow.

The Kremlin uses persuasion — and other times, coercion — to achieve its aims. The United States warned Chad’s president last year that Russian mercenaries were plotting to kill him and three senior aides and that Moscow was backing Chadian rebels massing in the Central African Republic, to the south. At the same time, the Kremlin was courting sympathizers within Chad’s ruling elite, including cabinet ministers and a half brother of the president.

The impending departure of the U.S. military advisers from Chad, a sprawling desert nation at the crossroads of the continent, was prompted by a letter from the Chadian government this month that the United States saw as threatening to end an important security agreement with Washington.

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