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Biden To Withdraw Troops From Niger As Region Increasingly Turns To Russia

• https://www.zerohedge.com, by Tyler Durden

The move comes after Niger's mid-March declaration that was ending its military cooperation with the United States.  

Following Niger's announcement, US military officials scrambled in vain to salvage the relationship. At stake: The $110 million Air Base 201, which the New York Times characterized as the Pentagon's "most strategic military asset in sub-Saharan Africa." Said to be a key base for counterterrorism, it was a major hub for drone operations in the region. 

US-Niger relations took a major downturn with a July 2023 coup that toppled President Mohamed Bazoum in favor of a military junta. The new government was increasingly keen on Russia, something that triggered bitter complaints from US officials. Things deteriorated further when Western intelligence accused Niger of engaging in secret talks to give Iran access to its uranium.

In a March statement, junta spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said, "Niger regrets the intention of the American delegation to deny the sovereign Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and types of partnerships capable of truly helping them fight against terrorism."

The Russians may well take the keys to Air Base 201. Bringing an air-defense system with them, more than 100 Russian instructors arrived in the country last week. 

According to Russia's state-owned news outlet Ria Novosti, the Russian personnel are part of Africa Corps, the new paramilitary structure intended to take the place of the Wagner group, the military company whose mercenaries and operations spread in Africa under the leadership of Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash last year. -New York Times

At public demonstrations, Nigeriens have been seen waving Russian flags and shouting slogans denouncing US imperialism. Russian flags have even become a trendy item to display in everyday life, emblematic of a major geopolitical transition. "The Russian flag has become a symbol of resistance in West Africa, affiliated with anti-West and anti-French attitudes," Kyle Walter, research head at Logically, told the New York Times. 


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