Au revoir to (some) French troops in Niger
France looks set to begin a "limited" military withdrawal from Niger, after ongoing popular protests have made it clear its troops are no longer welcome. Niger's new military leaders had given France a month to pull its 1,500 soldiers—plus ambassador—out of the country. But Paris, which does not recognize the legitimacy of the junta, had refused. Now, with the expiry of the Sept. 3 deadline, talks are underway with Nigerien army commanders (not the putsch leaders, French officials stress) for an undisclosed number of French troops to be transferred to Chad. But France's military presence is resented across the Sahel. On Sept. 5, there were demonstrations outside the French base in Faya-Largeau, northern Chad, after a French legionnaire killed a Chadian soldier.
Meanwhile, the US is also "repositioning" troops and equipment in Niger—shifting from capital Niamey to its giant northern air base in Agadez. The Pentagon insists its fight against the Sahelian jihadist insurgency will continue.
From The New Humanitarian, Sept. 8