French troops and the ambassador from the country will exit Niger and will end all military cooperation with the military leaders of Niger in place since the July coup.
French President Emmanuel Macron said his country still identifies Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted president, as the former colony’s rightful leader. Macron, just weeks ago, said the redeployment of troops would only occur upon request from the deposed head of state.
The coup leaders issued a statement praising the move as a step in the right direction for the country.
“Imperialist and neo-colonialist forces are no longer welcome on our national territory. The new era of cooperation, based on mutual respect and sovereignty is already underway,” it said, according to The Associated Press.
He said his government will work with the junta leaders to make sure there is a smooth transition and the 1,500 troops stationed in the country leave peacefully. There have been demonstrations outside the military base in Niamey that houses French soldiers and have called for them to exit the country.
The ambassador was expected to leave the country right away, and it could take months for France to pull its forces. The BBC noted that the move is a “hammer blow to France’s operations against Islamist militants in the wider Sahel region and Paris’ influence there.”
The New York Times reported that France’s withdrawal could represent a seismic shift for U.S. policy in the country that has been working with French forces.
Aneliese Bernard, a former State Department adviser and now director of Strategic Stabilization Advisors, a Washington-based risk advisory group, told the paper that the move “signals the beginning of the end of an era for both France and the United States in the Sahel.”
“The U.S. has failed to really deliver its own strategy. They always piggybacked off the French approach,” she said.
The U.S. has about 1,500 troops in the country under the auspices of fighting Islamic terrorists in the Sahel. The country is mineral-rich, and the U.S. and Europe are concerned that Niger could turn to China and Russia.
“What’s happening in the Sahel is not a sideshow to great power competition, it is great power competition,” Cohn P. Clarke, a former RAND analyst, told WSWS last month. “The events that are unfolding are not doing so in a vacuum. The U.S., France, China, and Russia each have their own vested interests in Sahelian countries.”
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on how the U.S. and France continue to lose their grip on African countries that have suffered for years under their mistreatment. Niger and Gabon are the latest former French colonies in Africa to fall to a coup, following Chad, Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso. The BBC noted that since 1990, 78 percent of the 27 coups in sub-Saharan Africa have occurred in Francophone states. (See “NIGER COUP: ENOUGH OF THE WEST, MOVING TOWARD RUSSIA. EU/FRANCE WANT ITS URANIUM” 1 Aug 2023, “FRANCE CALLS NIGER COUP LEADERS ILLEGITIMATE, WILL KEEP FORCES IN COUNTRY” 8 Aug 2023, and “NIGER JUNTA EMERGES UNSCATHED AFTER THREAT OF MILITARY INTERVENTION FROM ECOWAS” 8 Aug 2023.)