Breaking News Niger soldiers declare coup on national TV

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Exclusive: Russian troops enter base housing US military in Niger, US official says​



Russian military personnel have entered an air base in Niger that is hosting U.S. troops, a senior U.S. defense told Reuters, a move that follows a decision by Niger's junta to expel U.S. forces from the country.
The military officers ruling the West African nation have told the U.S. to withdraw its nearly 1,000 military personnel from the country, which until a coup last year had been a key partner for Washington's fight against insurgents who have killed thousands of people and displaced millions more.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russian forces were not mingling with U.S. troops but were using a separate hanger at Airbase 101, which is next to Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, Niger's capital.
The move by Russia's military puts U.S. and Russian troops in close proximity at a time when the nations' military and diplomatic rivalry is increasingly acrimonious over the conflict in Ukraine.

It also raises questions about the fate of U.S. installations in the country following a withdrawal.
"(The situation) is not great but in the short-term manageable," the official said.
The Nigerien and Russian embassies in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. and its allies have been forced to move troops out of a number of African countries following coups that brought to power groups eager to distance themselves from Western governments. In addition to the impending departure from Niger, U.S. troops have also left Chad in recent days, while French forces have been kicked out of Mali and Burkina Faso.

At the same time, Russia is seeking to strengthen relations with African nations, pitching Moscow as a friendly country with no colonial baggage in the continent.
Mali, for example, has in recent years become one of Russia's closest African allies, with the Wagner Group mercenary force deploying there to fight jihadist insurgents.
Russia has described relations with the United States as "below zero" because of U.S. military and financial aid for Ukraine in the war now approaching the end of its second year.

The U.S. official said Nigerien authorities had told President Joe Biden's administration that about 60 Russian military personnel would be in Niger, but the official could not verify that number.
After the coup, the U.S. military moved some of its forces in Niger from Airbase 101 to Airbase 201 in the city of Agadez. It was not immediately clear what U.S. military equipment remained at Airbase 101.

The United States built Airbase 201 in central Niger at a cost of more than $100 million. Since 2018 it has been used to target Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliate Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) fighters with armed drones.
Washington is concerned about Islamic militants in the Sahel region, who may be able to expand without the presence of U.S. forces and intelligence capabilities.
Niger's move to ask for the removal of U.S. troops came after a meeting in Niamey in mid-March, when senior U.S. officials raised concerns including the expected arrival of Russia forces and reports of Iran seeking raw materials in the country, including uranium.
While the U.S. message to Nigerien officials was not an ultimatum, the official said, it was made clear U.S. forces could not be on a base with Russian forces.

"They did not take that well," the official said.

A two-star U.S. general has been sent to Niger to try and arrange a professional and responsible withdrawal.
While no decisions have been taken on the future of U.S. troops in Niger, the official said the plan was for them to return to U.S. Africa Command's home bases, located in Germany.

 

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US. threats led to rupture of vital military ties, Nigerien leader says​


A crucial military relationship between the United States and its closest West African ally, the country of Niger, ruptured this spring after a visiting U.S. official made threats during last-ditch negotiations over whether American troops based there would be allowed to remain, according to the country’s prime minister.


In an exclusive interview, Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine put the blame for the breakdown squarely on the United States, accusing American officials of trying to dictate which countries Niger could partner with and failing to justify the U.S. troop presence, now scheduled to end in the coming months. Niger has been central to efforts to contain a growing Islamist insurgency in West Africa.
The rift between the former allies has created an opportunity for Russia, which has moved quickly to deepen its relationship with Niger, dispatching troops to the capital, Niamey, last month to train the Nigerien military and supplying a new air defense system. Russian and U.S. troops now occupy opposite ends of an air base.

After a military coup d’état ousted Niger’s democratically elected president last year, the United States froze security support as required by U.S. law and paused counterterrorism activities, which had involved intelligence gathering on regional militant activities from a massive drone base in the country’s north. The United States has kept more than 1,000 military personnel in place while negotiating with Niger over their status and urging the junta to begin restoring democracy.

“The Americans stayed on our soil, doing nothing while the terrorists killed people and burned towns,” Zeine said. “It is not a sign of friendship to come on our soil but let the terrorists attack us. We have seen what the United States will do to defend its allies, because we have seen Ukraine and Israel.”

Niger’s insistence that American troops depart culminated in the U.S. announcement last month that it would withdraw them. The pullout, which two U.S. officials said would begin in coming months, represents a significant setback for the Biden administration and will force it to reconfigure its strategy for countering Islamist extremists in the volatile Sahel region.

Though tense discussions between U.S. and Nigerien officials have been previously reported, Zeine’s remarks revealed the extent of the disconnect between the two countries. While the Americans were pressing their counterparts over democracy and their relations with other countries, Niger was asking for additional military equipment and what it considered a more equitable relationship between the two forces, according to his account. He also revealed just how exasperated the Nigeriens had become with the United States.

Relations with the United States have been strained since the junta took power, appointing Zeine, an economist, as prime minister two weeks later. The U.S. government condemned the coup and called for the release of President Mohamed Bazoum, who was put under house arrest.

Zeine said leaders of Niger’s new government, known as the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland, or by its French initials CNSP, were bewildered that the United States had frozen military support while insisting on keeping the troops in the country without justifying their continued presence. The American response in the wake of Niger’s coup contrasted sharply with that of other nations, including Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, he said, which have welcomed the new Nigerien leaders with “open arms.”

He said the Nigerien leaders took particular umbrage at remarks by Molly Phee, the State Department’s top official for African affairs, who he said had urged the government during a March visit to Niamey to refrain from engaging with Iran and Russia in ways objectionable to Washington if Niger wanted to continue its security relationship with the United States. He also said Phee had further threatened sanctions if Niger pursued a deal to sell uranium to Iran.

“When she finished, I said, ‘Madame, I am going to summarize in two points what you have said,’” recounted Zeine, who has led negotiations with the United States. “First, you have come here to threaten us in our country. That is unacceptable. And you have come here to tell us with whom we can have relationships, which is also unacceptable. And you have done it all with a condescending tone and a lack of respect.”



In response to Zeine’s comments, a U.S. official said: “The message to the CNSP in March was a coordinated U.S. government position, delivered in a professional manner, in response to valid concerns about developments in Niger. The CNSP was presented with a choice, not an ultimatum, about whether they wished to continue their partnership with us, respectful of our democratic values and national security interests.


“In the coming months, we will work with the CNSP to draw down U.S. forces in an orderly fashion and ultimately reposition them elsewhere, consistent with U.S. security interests,” added the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Since 2012, the United States has maintained a military presence in Niger, with most U.S. personnel stationed at the Agadez drone base, which cost about $110 million to build. That base has been “impactful” for counterterrorism efforts across the region, said Gen. Michael E. Langley, who heads U.S. military operations in Africa. In an interview earlier this year, Langley warned that the U.S. losing its footprint in Niger would “degrade our ability to do active watching and warning, including for homeland defense.”
Before the July 26 coup, in which Bazoum was ousted by the head of his presidential guard, Abdourahmane Tchiani, U.S. soldiers were providing training, intelligence and equipment to Nigerien troops. After the coup, activities were limited to those needed to ensure the safety of American troops.

Zeine said his attempts to meet with officials in Washington were rebuffed for months. He said Salifou Modi, a former army chief now serving as vice president, drafted a new status-of-forces agreement to govern the presence of U.S. troops, but it was rejected. Still, he said, Nigerien officials had remained hopeful that the United States might provide more assistance to respond to extremist attacks, which spiked following the coup.

Shortly after the coup, Niger’s new government directed more than 1,500 French soldiers who had been stationed in Niger to leave but left open the possibility that the Americans could remain.
When Phee first arrived in Niger in December, Zeine said, he showed her photographs of Nigeriens waving American flags during protests against France, Niger’s former colonial power. While protesters set fires and smashed windows at the French Embassy, he noted, they left the U.S. Embassy untouched.
“Nigeriens were saying, ‘Americans are our friends, they will help us this time to annihilate the terrorists,’” said Zeine. “But there was radio silence.” He added that Niger would have not looked to Russia and other countries for help if the United States had responded to requests for more support, including for planes, drones and an air defense system.

Phee said in a previous interview that American officials “made the choice as stark and clear” as they could during the December meeting, emphasizing that U.S. assistance would remain suspended until Niger set a timeline for restoring democracy.
When Phee returned to Niamey in March, Zeine said, he asked Modi whether he knew how many Americans were in the country and what exactly they were doing. “He said ‘No,’” said Zeine, who recalled turning back to Phee and asking, “Can you imagine the same thing happening in the United States?”

That visit proved a turning point, he said, in large part because Phee, in hour-long opening remarks, accused the Nigerien government of reaching an agreement to sell uranium mined in Niger to Iran, which could use it for its nuclear program. He called the allegation untrue. Zeine, who was received by President Ebrahim Raisi and other senior Iranian officials in Tehran in January, said that “absolutely nothing” has been signed with Iran, adding that if a deal had been signed, it would have “not been under the table … but in front of cameras.”

He accused the United States of using the same tactics employed by George W. Bush’s administration before the invasion of Iraq in citing later-discredited intelligence information saying Saddam Hussein’s government had tried to buy uranium from Niger to use in a nuclear weapons program.
A few days after the March meeting, a junta spokesman appeared on Nigerien state television declaring the American military presence illegal. Behind the scenes, U.S. officials continued negotiating, seeking to determine what, if any, security relationship could continue.

But concern mounted last month, when a senior U.S. Air Force leader at the base in Niger alleged that the troops there had been left in limbo and put at risk. When Zeine traveled to Washington last month, he met again with Phee and Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who promised Zeine that the United States would withdraw.

Although Niger is insisting that the U.S. military leave, Zeine said that his government wants to continue economic and diplomatic relations with the United States and that “no Nigerien considers the United States as the enemy.” He said he told Phee and Campbell that Niger would rather have American investors than soldiers.
“If American investors arrived, we would give them what they wanted,” he recounted telling the States Department officials. “We have uranium. We have oil. We have lithium. Come, invest. It is all we want.”
 

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Russia Said to Seek Takeover of France’s Uranium Assets in Niger​

  • Rosatom said to have contacts with junta on French-held mines
  • Russia expands presence in Africa amid confrontation with West

Russia is seeking to take over uranium assets in Niger held by a state-controlled French company, according to people informed about the matter, in a further challenge to Western interests in Africa.

Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear company, has had contacts with Niger’s military-led authorities about acquiring assets held by France’s Orano SA, according to a person in Moscow familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. A western diplomat based in the region said talks were likely centered around mining permits. Niger accounted for about 4% of global uranium mine production in 2022, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Following a coup last July that ousted the west African nation’s Western-allied leader, Niger is the latest in a string of African countries, almost all military ruled, that have forged closer security ties with Russia. That’s opened the way for Moscow to seek access to mining interests as it tries to revive its Soviet-era presence in Africa, in particular by exploiting widespread resentment of France’s decades-old influence in its former colonies.


“Russia has been stepping up its economic, diplomatic, and military links in Africa, including after the Niger coup, and they see this part of the world as a strategic investment opportunity,” said Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based nuclear analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Hand in hand, Rosatom has been diversifying its uranium investments in Africa.”

It’s not clear how many assets Rosatom is seeking in Niger and the person in Moscow characterized the discussions as being at an early stage that had not reached the point of negotiations, with the terms of any transfer not yet set out.

Orano has majority stakes in the operating companies of Somair, an open-pit mine, Cominak, a now-shuttered underground mine, and the Imouraren project, which has been suspended since 2015, according to its web site.

Orano is unaware of any discussions between Niger and Russian entities, the company said in emailed responses to questions. It has continued to engage with Niger’s new leaders since July, Orano said. Niger Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine’s office declined to comment. Spokespeople for Rosatom, the French presidency and the Kremlin didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is aware of a potential transfer of uranium assets in Niger, said a diplomat close to the Vienna-based United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, without specifying which entity may be involved.

One of the world’s poorest countries, Niger expelled French forces and ended a decade-long security agreement with the US in the wake of the coup. In April, 100 Russian military instructors arrived in the capital Niamey to train Niger’s forces in the use of air defense systems supplied by Moscow.

In March, a delegation from Niger for the first time attended Russia’s flagship nuclear industry event supported by Rosatom, the Atomexpo forum, in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

France has relied on Niger for as much as 15% of its uranium needs to fuel nuclear reactors that account for 65% of the country’s electricity production, Le Monde reported last year, citing Orano. European Union utilities depended on Niger, the world’s seventh-largest producer, for about a quarter of their uranium supplies in 2022, according to the Euratom Supply Agency.


Uranium prices have risen to a 17-year high, in part because the military takeover halted exports from Niger, whose supplies are drawn from Africa’s highest-grade uranium ores, according to the World Nuclear Association.

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The Pentagon said in March that US officials traveled to Niger to express concerns about the junta’s “potential relationships” with Russia and Iran.

Despite their competition and the confrontation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Paris and Moscow have continued to cooperate in the nuclear field. Rosatom is providing machinery for France to manufacture fuel for Russian reactors in eastern Europe, where utilities are seeking alternatives to Rosatom. France also continues to send part of its nuclear waste products for recycling in Russia.

Orano — formerly known as Areva — has worked in Niger for more than 50 years to develop deposits in the country’s northwest Aïr region. The Imouraren project in the Sahara Desert was forecast to help supply France’s 57 operable reactors with fuel for 35 years.

In February, Orano said it set aside a provision of less than 10% of operating income for what its chief financial officer described as the “worst-case scenario where we would have to stop our business and we would be expelled from Niger.”

An assessment prepared by analysts for senior Russian officials and circulated in September proposed that Moscow’s relations with Niger could be used to threaten French access to uranium mined in the country, according to the London-based defense think tank, the Royal United Services Institute.


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A Russian takeover of Niger’s uranium assets would be one more step toward a market split, said Pendo Löfgren, the chief investment officer of Zug-based Arnova Capital AG, an investor in uranium miners and physical uranium.


“US-aligned countries will seek to import from allies only. Russia and China likewise,” he said. “But this is much more difficult for the US-aligned countries — in particular for the US itself, which today has essentially no domestic production.”


@Nilgiri @TR_123456 @Anmdt @OPTIMUS @Yasar_TR @Ryder @Heartbang @Radonsider
 

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The alliance between the Sahel countries continues to grow. Malian troops are deployed in Burkina Faso.
I'm not sure that's a good thing. cooperations, and joint training is needed before there should be enough trust on each other soldier deployment.

Imagine allowing deployment of Georgian soldiers within our national border.... Or even greek because we're allies ?

I'm pointing at the danger IF you have a disagreement, then you have enemy troops within your border. I need not remind of Ukraine/Russias ongoing war...
 

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I'm not sure that's a good thing. cooperations, and joint training is needed before there should be enough trust on each other soldier deployment.

Imagine allowing deployment of Georgian soldiers within our national border.... Or even greek because we're allies ?

I'm pointing at the danger IF you have a disagreement, then you have enemy troops within your border. I need not remind of Ukraine/Russias ongoing war...

its a little bit different in this occasion. ECOWAS threathened to invade Niger which forced the sahel block to enter into an united block.
 

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its a little bit different in this occasion. ECOWAS threathened to invade Niger which forced the sahel block to enter into an united block.
Why would they threaten one of their own with invasion. That’s why the card house keeps falling apart.
 

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Why would they threaten one of their own with invasion. That’s why the card house keeps falling apart.

The idea is that if they support the democratically elected leaders of each country by threatening invasions against coups, the countries would be more stable and coups less likely, I think
 

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Why would they threaten one of their own with invasion. That’s why the card house keeps falling apart.

France did not like the fact that these 3 countries kicked them out. Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali signed a defense pact known as AES ( Alliance of Sahel state). The Sahel is a big playing ground for foreign powers.
 

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Russia/China has benefitted or moved into each of these countries that had a coup

This belt controls gold mines and illegal migration routes and damage NATO partnership efforts in counter terrorism

africa_coup_map_annotated_202309.png


China takes control of ports, free trade zones or other infrastructure if an African country defaults on its debt to China
 

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Russia/China has benefitted or moved into each of these countries that had a coup

This belt controls gold mines and illegal migration routes and damage NATO partnership efforts in counter terrorism

View attachment 68808

China takes control of ports, free trade zones or other infrastructure if an African country defaults on its debt to China
Many people are happy because of the fact that French/Western influence is dropping in these countries while they don't realize that these rapid changes of balance and the capacity other players have in order to react and adapt is not bringing the wanted results for Turkiye. If success in this case means to sell a couple of TB-2s and armored vehicles, so be it, but in reality due to the incompetence of these regimes, the incompetence and laughful state of their militaries, the mismanagement of resources and corruption are leading to a catastrophe which will have a global impact in terms of increasing of the terrorism threat. Turkiye will not only lack the power over these regimes, but also will have to deal with the rising terrorism threat in countries like Somalia and Libya.

We should develop our strategic capacity in order to be able to play in this league otherwise while others are exploiting the chaos which was jointly created, we will just sit and watch how they feast like vultures while we sold a couple of drones and can't prevent the rise of the terrorism networks which pose a real danger to our diplomatic facilities, business initiatives, military installations and even our ordinary citizens in the region.

I always say the same thing and will continue to say it. If we are not ready to bring the affair we started to its end, with a clear and simple plan backed by our realistically estimated capabilities then we better do nothing. In the world of predators we live in even a moment of lameness and inaction can cost us badly as it happened before and it is destined to happen again in Africa if some major change don't happen now.
 

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Those Sahelian nations will at some point collapse because the Jihadists aren't quitting. If they can survive French's Serval, then they could theoretically survive whatever hodge podge half-assed attempt Russia is throwing to 'help' that Sahelian nation.

Anyway that's their problem, I actually really liked the trend in which the situation is developing.
 

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