Last Remaining French Troops to Withdraw from Niger Today

Fri Dec 22 2023
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NIAMEY, Niger: The last remaining French troops are poised to conclude their withdrawal from Niger on Friday, bringing an end to over a decade of French anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel region.

The culmination of this exit comes as a response to demands from Niger’s new ruling generals following a coup on July 26. This event follows similar expulsions of French forces from Mali and Burkina Faso, both resulting from military takeovers in those countries. The departure leaves Niger with the presence of hundreds of US military personnel, as well as Italian and German troops.

French President Emmanuel Macron had previously announced the withdrawal plan in September, with the initial contingent beginning its departure in October. The withdrawal process has been intricate, involving road convoys covering extensive distances, navigating perilous desert routes to reach the French Sahel operations center situated in Chad. This move underscores a broader transformation in regional dynamics, as Sahel nations express discontent with their former colonial power, France, leading to a reconsideration of alliances with other global players, including Russia.

While the United States maintains approximately 1,000 military personnel in Niger, it is prepared to resume cooperation only if Niger’s military regime commits to a swift transition to civilian rule. The military leaders in Niamey have proposed a potential three-year transition period, raising questions about the timeline for reinstating civilian governance. Additionally, Germany, which has around 120 troops stationed in Niger, is engaging in discussions to determine the future of its military presence in the country.

The withdrawal of French forces from Niger highlights the complexities of managing security and counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region. The vacuum left by French troops prompts concerns about the potential resurgence of jihadist activities, particularly as the Sahel nations navigate delicate transitions and regional dynamics. This development also emphasizes the shifting geopolitical landscape, where nations seek strategic partnerships that align with their evolving interests.

As the French troops complete their exit, the Sahel region enters a new phase, and the challenges ahead will require careful navigation to maintain stability and address the ongoing threat of jihadist insurgency. The global community watches closely as regional actors recalibrate their alliances and security strategies in response to changing geopolitical realities in the Sahel.

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