Niger: Why the US Military Base in Agadez is Strategic for the United States

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The junta in Niger denounced, on March 16th, the military cooperation agreement signed with the United States twelve years ago. This is a setback for Washington, which maintains a prominent airbase in Agadez.

Following the French, American military personnel could now also face expulsion from Niger. The regime of the generals in power in Niamey since the coup d’état on July 26, 2023, announced on March 16, 2024, “with immediate effect,” the termination of the military cooperation agreement with the United States signed in 2012, stating that the American presence was “illegal.”

This is a significant setback for US authorities, who have a prominent airbase in Agadez, enabling them to monitor the entire Sahel-Saharan region.

Until the last moment, the United States believed they could salvage their military installations, which are strategically vital since American bases in Africa are relatively rare. US Africom mainly has a presence in Djibouti and Niger, with the airbase 201 in Agadez.

Out of the thousand American military personnel deployed in Niger, 700 are stationed at this base, where air assets are significant. According to recent counts, there are currently two electromagnetic reconnaissance aircraft, two maneuver helicopters, and notably around ten MQ-9 Reaper drones on the tarmacs. This number can increase to 15 to 20 drones during crises.

The Reaper drones enable the US military to monitor the entire Sahel region, particularly Libya, which serves as a gateway to the Mediterranean, posing a potential military threat.

What’s the Plan B?

This compelled departure is a major setback for Washington, which until now had shown considerable accommodation towards the junta. They believed, notes a high-ranking French officer, they could “befriend” General Barmou, Chief of Staff of the Nigerien Armed Forces (FAN), who was trained in the United States.

Soukaina Sghir

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