Niger ends military agreement with US, calls it ‘profoundly unfair’

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Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane, second from right, is greeted by supporters upon his arrival at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey on August 6, 2023. AFP/Getty ImagesCNN — 

By Mitchell McCluskey and Heather Chen, CNN

Niger’s military government announced that it has ended an accord with the US that allowed military personnel and civilian staff from the Department of Defense to operate in Niger – days after holding high-level talks with US diplomatic and military officials this week.

“The government of Niger, taking into account the aspirations and interests of its people, decides with full responsibility to denounce with immediate effect the agreement relating to the status of military personnel of the United States and civilian employees of the American Department of Defense in the territory of the Republic of Niger,” Niger military spokesman Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane said in a statement on national television announcing the change.

Abdramane added that the agreement between the two countries – signed in 2012, was imposed on Niger and had been in violation of the “constitutional and democratic rules” of the West African nation’s sovereignty.

“This agreement is not only profoundly unfair in its substance but it also does not meet the aspirations and interests of the Nigerien people,” he said.

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Niger was once a key regional partner for the US, but relations have deteriorated since the military junta claimed power in July 2023 in what the US formally designated as a coup.

Since then, the US has withdrawn many of its 1,100 troops who were stationed in Niger.

Senior Pentagon officials believe that keeping a presence in Niger is vital to efforts to tackle terrorism in the region. In October, the Pentagon said it was still assessing how the change would impact approximately 1,000 US forces stationed in the country.

In a letter sent to Congress in December 2023, President Joe Biden noted that approximately 648 US military personnel remain deployed to Niger.

‘Condescending attitude’

The announcement comes after a senior US delegation’s three-day visit to Niger this week.

Abdramane said that the US delegation was received out of “courtesy” and “did not respect diplomatic practices” by not providing information regarding the date of its arrival, the composition of the delegation and the purpose of the visit.

During meetings, Nigerien and American officials discussed the military transition in Niger and military cooperation between the two countries, Abdramane said.

“The government of Niger regrets the desire of the American delegation to deny the Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and the types of partnerships capable of helping them truly fight against terrorists,” Abdramane said.

Abdramane said Niger “forcefully denounces the condescending attitude” of the US.

“This attitude is likely to undermine the quality of our centuries-old relations and undermine the trust between our two governments,” he said.

He also rejected what he said were allegations of a secret deal made between Niger, Russia, and Iran.

CNN has reached out to the US Department of Defense for comment.

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