July 17, 2024
German army to withdraw from Niger air base amid failed negotiations

German army to withdraw from Niger air base amid failed negotiations

The German military will cease operations at its air transport base in Niger on August 31, following unsuccessful negotiations with the West African nation’s military regime, the German Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday.

The Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at the Niamey base will complete their withdrawal by the end of August, the ministry confirmed. Additionally, all military cooperation with Niger, coordinated alongside the German Foreign Ministry, will be terminated.

This decision follows the coup d’état on July 26, 2023, which saw Niger’s new military regime strengthen its alliances with Russia and Iran, while distancing itself from France, its former colonial ruler, and the United States.

This shift mirrors developments in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, both also under military rule and grappling with jihadist violence.

At the end of May, Germany and Niger had reached an interim agreement allowing the Bundeswehr to continue using the Niamey air transport base until August 31.

However, prolonged negotiations between the two nations failed, largely due to disagreements over the immunity of German personnel from prosecution.

Recently, only 38 Bundeswehr soldiers remained at the base, along with 33 employees from German and foreign firms. The base has also been used for operations, including the evacuation of German nationals in Africa.

General Kenneth Ekman, Director of Strategy, Engagement, and Programs for the U.S. Africa Command, highlighted the significance of this withdrawal.

“On Sunday, there will be a ceremony to mark the completion of the troop withdrawal from the Niamey airport base, after which the last 100 soldiers will depart and the C-17 transport plane will take off,” he stated.

The withdrawal from Niger also includes the departure of remaining troops from the critical drone base in Agadez by August. This base has been pivotal in counterterrorism operations across the Sahel.

According to General Ekman, the U.S. will remove 18 generators from Agadez, each valued at over a million dollars.

“Several small groups of 10 to 20 American soldiers, including Army Special Forces, have already been redeployed to other West African countries. However, the majority of the forces will initially be transferred to Europe,” he added.

The planned withdrawal was formalized in May after discussions between Nigerien and American defense officials in Niamey.

In mid-March, Niger had terminated its cooperation agreement with the United States, requesting a withdrawal plan for the 1,000 American soldiers stationed on its soil.

This development marks a significant shift in the region’s geopolitical landscape, reflecting the broader realignment of alliances and the ongoing challenges posed by extremist groups in the Sahel.

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