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U.S. Military Presence In Niger Sparks Political Backlash

In an unexpected twist, Niger has become the focal point of heated discussions in Washington’s political landscape, with both conservatives and liberals vehemently criticizing the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Surprisingly, many American lawmakers have only recently become aware of the U.S. military’s presence in the African nation.

While the existence of this military presence was never shrouded in secrecy, Congress had never granted official authorization to the Pentagon for the deployment of troops to Niger. Instead, the US military had unilaterally deployed forces under the 2001 Defense Authorization Act, granting the authority to combat terrorism. Adding to the complexity of the matter, the Pentagon invested a substantial sum of $110 million to construct a drone base in Niger, a project that has now been suspended following the recent coup.

According to Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., Niger had been a crucial ally for the U.S. military in Africa for counterterrorism operations until the coup. However, the current ruling military junta in Niger seems to have shifted its stance, showing hostility towards the United States and prioritizing power consolidation over extending government authority in areas targeted by terrorist groups.

According to the Defense Department, Niger currently hosts approximately 1,100 U.S. soldiers, and their presence has caught the attention of isolationist voices on both sides of the political spectrum. Demands for the White House to take prompt action and end these unauthorized military operations have grown louder. During the final stages of his presidency, Trump initiated troop withdrawals from Africa. However, the Biden administration has since expanded the U.S. military presence on the African continent, with 6,000 troops stationed across 29 bases.

Unsurprisingly, some Democrats are pointing fingers at Trump, accusing him of potentially contributing to the coup in Niger. During his tenure, restrictions on Nigerien visas were implemented, which could have affected America’s standing among the local population, eventually leading to a backlash.

As Congressional lawmakers probe deeper into financial aid to African countries following recent coups, concerns are being raised about assistance provided by the U.S. to coup leaders, including military training conducted on American bases. The worry now lies in the fact that these leaders have adopted an openly anti-Western policy.

Despite the challenges, Washington hesitates to disengage, as economic competition from China and Russia in Africa intensifies. Thus, the U.S. finds itself weighing the pros and cons of relying on grants or military deployments, recognizing that efficacy may be diminishing over time.

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Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of Truth Puke/ or its affiliates.

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