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Anti-U.S. Demonstrations Erupt in Niger Over Military Cooperation With Russia

A large group of protesters marched through Niger’s capital city on Saturday, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. 

The protest was organized after the ruling junta canceled a military agreement with the United States and welcomed Russian military instructors, signaling a major shift in its international alliances.

The demonstrators, holding Nigerien flags, walked through the center of Niamey in a march that resembled the anti-French protests that led to the withdrawal of French forces from Niger last year after a military coup. 

Credits: DepositPhotos

Some protesters carried handwritten placards, one of which said “USA rush out of Niger,” expressing solidarity with the junta’s decision to end the military agreement with the U.S.

Niger had previously been a crucial security partner of France and the United States in their efforts to combat Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region. 

However, the new authorities in Niger have chosen to terminate military agreements with Western allies, including France and the U.S., while strengthening ties with Russia.

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Credits: DepositPhotos

The recent arrival of Russian military instructors and equipment in Niger highlights the junta’s preference for closer cooperation with Moscow, aligning with Russia’s attempts to expand its influence in Africa.

Despite the protests, some citizens expressed concerns about the potential long-term consequences of accepting Russian military aid. 

They emphasized the need to prevent the establishment of Russian military bases in Niger.

Although the junta has indicated its intention to terminate military agreements with Western powers, it remains unclear when or if U.S. troops will withdraw from Niger. 

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Credits: DepositPhotos

In March, the top U.S. general indicated some level of support within the junta for maintaining a U.S. military presence despite the agreement’s cancellation.

The U.S. military has several programs in Niger, including Air Base 201, a drone base that cost over $100 million. 

According to reports, the region has experienced an increase in violence, with conflict fatalities rising significantly in 2023, underscoring the ongoing security challenges in the central Sahel.

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