France: France begins withdrawing troops from Niger this week
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
France will begin withdrawing troops from Niger this week following a coup in the West African country. This marks a turning point in Western efforts to counter decades of Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region.
“We will begin the withdrawal operation this week in good conditions and safety in coordination with the Nigerian military,” the French military command said.
The logistics operation to withdraw 1,500 French troops and a large amount of military equipment from Niger by the end of this year comes a week after the French ambassador left Niger under pressure from the new military junta that overthrew the friendly president of Paris. It was done later. Mohamed Bazoum, July 26th.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on September 24 that France would withdraw its troops because it would not be “held hostage by extrusionists.” Niger’s former colonial power continues to support Bazoum, and officials in Paris say it is impossible to continue joint operations with the Nigerian military against the rebels while the coup mastermind rules the country. said. President Macron called the junta an “ally of anarchy.”
French troops are in Niger as part of a broader fight against jihadists across the Sahel, and Paris has been at the forefront of operations against Islamic extremists in the region for a decade.
Retiring troops now face the organizational challenge of rapid withdrawal. Military command said they would need cover to leave exposed front-line positions and could require air support from a larger force at an air base on the outskirts of the capital, Niamey.
French troops in Niger have been living in instability since the military government demanded their withdrawal, with irregular food deliveries and repeated anti-French protests outside the Niamey base.
The decision to withdraw leaves a gap in Western efforts to counter Islamic extremist insurgency in the region, deals a blow to French influence and allows Russia to expand its influence in the region. there’s a possibility that. Until the coup, Niger was the West’s last significant ally in the sub-Saharan central Sahel region.
This coup is seen as the latest serious threat to France’s strategy in the Sahel, as multiple military coups in other countries have forced Paris to reconsider its military presence and anti-jihadist mission. There is.
France first sent troops against jihadists in Mali in 2013 under socialist President Francois Hollande, but the past three years have seen several military coups in the region. The sustained presence of jihadists has exposed the limits of military strategy and violence. And with Bazoum as a strong ally, they will focus their efforts on Niger.
In Mali, a 2020 coup sparked a diplomatic standoff with France, which withdrew its troops last year. France also withdrew from Burkina Faso after two coup attempts last year led to the establishment of a military government with nationalist lines. Both countries are former French colonies, and the French military has long cooperated with authorities to counter jihadists.
Last month, President Macron said he was “very concerned” about the region, saying dozens of lives had been lost in attacks by jihadists.