US troops in Niger. Photo/courtesy.

The U.S department of state is set to withdraw its troops of about 1000 soldiers from Niger after the U.S deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell reached an agreement in a meeting with Niger’s prime minister Ali Lamine Zeine.

 This comes after the West African country is increasingly turning to Moscow for support and ditching Western powers.

The departure of the U.S military form Niger will mean the closure of a military base which has been vital in the combating of armed groups in the Sahel region that had pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and ISIL like the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal Muslimeen (JNIM)  which is affiliated to al-Qaeda.

The military base built back in 2018 at an estimated cost of more than $100m served as a base for manned and unmanned surveillance flights and other operations for the US military.

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The base 201 as it’s known located at Agadez in the Sahara just 920km from the capital Niamey has been the main drone unit facility for the US in Africa reportedly said to have been used to carry out attacks on Islamic state fighters in Libya back in 2019.

The withdrawal of US military from the West African nation comes after the security pact that allowed the Americans to fight jihadist terrorists in its soil was revoked in March by the military junta that came into power in July 2023 after the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown in a coup.

The deterioration of the relationship of the two countries continues as it loses favor from the ruling military and the Nigerien population who took protests to the streets of Niamey demanding the withdrawal of American forces just after the arrival of Russian military equipment and advisors in the country.

Until the coup last year, Niger had remained a key security partner of the United States and France.

But the new authorities in Niger following the juntas in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso had kicked out France and European troops as soon as they took charge, which was followed by quitting the regional political and economic bloc ECOWAS and fostering closer ties with Russia.

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Peter Pham, former U.S. special envoy for the Sahel region told Associate Press that it will be hard to US troops exiting Niger.

“In short-term, they will be hard to replace,” Pham said.

On October 2023, U.S Senate rejected the withdrawal of U.S troops in Niger after the military junta took power. However, the junta’s regime as well as Nigeriens were fed up with the presence of US soldiers which prompted protests early April.