Niger Leader Took Exception to American Tactics In Evicting US Troops

( – The Prime Minister of Niger, Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, has lashed out at the United States and blamed the Biden administration for a deterioration in relations between the two countries. He said the US attempted to dictate policy to his government, including demands that it should not engage with Russia or Iran on the international stage. The Prime Minister claimed that America effectively presented him with an ultimatum – either to have American security or to have relationships with Moscow or Tehran.

Additionally, Mr. Zeine said all this was done with an air of disrespect and “a condescending tone.” An American official said the US did not give Zeine an ultimatum, it gave him a choice.

Zeine came to power in a military coup last year, prompting the US to suspend counter-terrorism operations and security support. In April, Niger’s government said the approximately 1,000 US troops stationed there must leave. Plans are currently underway to remove American forces while Niger becomes closer to US adversaries, including Russia.

With the US-Niger security pact now scrapped, some experts warn that US influence in West Africa could wane and be replaced by Russian, Iranian, or Chinese. When Zeine came to power in the wake of the coup, for example, the then-leader of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, issued a statement welcoming the new government.

The US, however, condemned the coup and called for the release of imprisoned President Mohamed Bazoum. The Biden administration said it ceased security and counter-terror measures because of the overthrow, and Zeine claimed he began to look to Russia for support at that point.

Responding to Zeine’s remarks, US officials say they presented the American government’s position politely and professionally and highlighted valid concerns about the direction of Niger under its new administration.

Gen. Michael E. Langley, leader of US operations in Africa, said the departure from Niger is a significant blow as it will “degrade our ability to do active watching and warning.”

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