US To Withdraw Troops From Niger

On Friday, the United States agreed to withdraw its military personnel — more than 1,000 troops — from Niger. The decision follows a military coup and subsequent demands from the new junta that have challenged Western forces’ presence on their soil.

The agreement to remove U.S. military personnel was confirmed during discussions between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine. The planned withdrawal casts uncertainty over the future of significant U.S. investments in the region, including a $110 million air base in Agadez, which has been central to counterterrorism operations across the Sahel.

A State Department spokesman said the Pentagon will immediately begin planning an “orderly and responsible exit.” The same official said the State Department will coordinate with the Defense Department to mitigate any “strategic disruptions.”

Niger has increasingly pivoted toward Russia for military support, as evidenced by the recent arrival of Russian military instructors in Niamey. This shift is part of a broader trend in the Sahel, where countries reevaluate their military alliances and turn away from traditional Western partners.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) highlighted the risk to American personnel in his report, stating that the troops felt “abandoned” due to a “concealment of intelligence” by the Biden administration’s State Department.

The U.S. move follows a series of coups in West and Central Africa, signaling a worrying trend of democratic backsliding. With eight coups in just four years across the region, the strategic and political landscape is rapidly changing, complicating U.S. efforts to maintain stability and counter extremism.

The withdrawal could have broader geopolitical implications. It might signal to other nations in the region that the U.S. is scaling back its ambitions in Africa, potentially paving the way for other powers to step in. This could encourage Russia, which has been looking to expand its military and political influence across Africa.

While the withdrawal responds to immediate political pressures, it may have long-lasting effects on U.S. strategic interests in Africa and beyond, reflecting a more extensive recalibration of its global military footprint.