Voz media US Voz.us

The US military plans to begin withdrawing its troops from Niger, a strategic nation located in the Sahel region

The decision comes amid a clear rapprochement of the Nigerien authorities with Russia.

El ejército estadounidense comienza el proceso para retirar sus tropas de Níger, una nación estratégica ubicada en la región de Sahel

Manifestantes se reúnen mientras un hombre sostiene un cartel exigiendo que los soldados del ejército de los Estados Unidos abandonen Níger. (AFP)

The United States is ready to begin withdrawing its troops from Niger, a situation that represents a blow to Washington and its Western allies in terms of organizing security operations in Africa’s Sahel region, an area on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

According to AP, the start of the troop withdrawal occurred when US officials were seeking a new military agreement with the country’s new authorities. Those efforts failed right in the middle of Niger’s clear rapprochement with Russia.

The State Department told AP that on Friday, Niger’s prime minister, appointed by the ruling military junta, Ali Lamine Zeine, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell agreed that the two nations would begin planning for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

There is no timetable for the withdrawal at the moment, but talks have already been scheduled to begin in the coming days to determine the next steps to begin the official withdrawal.

The decision is, without a doubt, a blow for the United States, since this African nation plays an important role in US military operations in the Sahel region.

According to AP, in addition to losing a military ally in the region, “Washington is concerned about the spread of jihadi violence, where local groups have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida and the Islamic State groups.”

“Niger is home to a major U.S. air base, in the city of Agadez, about 920 kilometers (550 miles) from the capital, Niamey, using it for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations. The U.S. has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in training Niger’s military since it began operations there in 2013,” the agency report added.

The deterioration of relations between Niger, the United States and other Western countries began last July when mutinous soldiers overthrew then-president Mohamed Bazoum.

From that moment on, the Niger junta ordered the French military to withdraw from the country while, on the other hand, they intensified military relations with Russia in search of security.

According to Nigerien authorities, Russian military trainers arrived in April to reinforce the country’s air defenses.