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Niger: US military bases revoked after Biden officials’ warning about ties to Russia and Iran

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Niamey revoked its military cooperation with the United States and ordered US troops to leave the country after senior US diplomatic and military officials recently warned about Niger’s growing ties to Russia and Iran, the Pentagon said.

Niger’s military government on Saturday (16 March) revoked a major accord known as the status of forces agreement, which allows the US to station its forces in the West African country. The ruling junta order for some 1,000 American military personnel to leave the country reportedly comes, according to Pentagon, after US officials last week traveled to the capital Niamey to “raise a number of concerns” about Niger growing closer to Russia and Iran.

The US delegation expressed a particular concern about the escalating Russian military presence in Niger, a critical US partner in northwest Africa, amid warnings from the top US commander in the continent that the Russians are trying to “take over” the entire Sahel region.

Biden administration officials are aware of this startling development and are “working through diplomatic channels to seek clarification,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said.

Since Niger has served as a crucial foothold for US counterterrorism operations in the region for nearly a decade, analysts in West Africa are now raising concerns about possible implications for regional security.

“Certainly we’ll see a spike of insecurity in those areas because the bad guys are also looking at the development,” security expert Saheed Shehu said. “But I believe it’s not going to last because America is not going to sleep. America is going back to the drawing table to see how they can accommodate the complaints that were made by Niger.”

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