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The US is losing access to its bases in Niger − here’s why that’s a big deal

Michael A. Allen, Boise State University; Carla Martinez Machain, University at Buffalo, and Michael E. Flynn, Kansas State University, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

The United States was forced to stop its military operations in March 2024 in Niger – a landlocked, western African country in the Sahara desert. Niger may not immediately seem like a key ally for the U.S., but it served as a crucial staging ground for the U.S. military to carry out work and respond to terrorism in the region.

U.S. representatives are currently trying to negotiate a deal to maintain some sort of military presence in Niger. But, for now, Niger’s new ruling junta has declared that the U.S. military presence is a violation of Niger’s constitution. The fate of the U.S.‘ presence, including two military drone bases, remains uncertain.

In July 2023, Niger’s military successfully conducted a coup d'état and overthrew the democratically elected government. Military leaders arrested President Mohamed Bazoum and announced an end to the constitution and the government. The coup plotters set up their own government, a military junta called the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland, to run the country – even as the president still refuses to resign.

Niger is a former French colony and up until recently was home to 1,500 French troops, who mostly all left by December 2023. When the military junta expelled the French troops, it initially allowed the U.S. to continue to operate the base. Yet in March 2024, it ordered the U.S. to leave.

Though approximately 1,000 U.S. troops remain in Niger, the prospects for the U.S. maintaining its current presence and reactivating the drone bases do not look promising. Aside from the military junta, thousands of Nigeriens have participated in large-scale protests calling for the U.S. military to leave.

As a further complication, Russian military personnel arrived in Niger in April 2024 to train Nigerien forces. They delivered military equipment and stated that they planned to build an air defense system in Niger. This deployment is part of the increased military cooperation with Russia that Niger is pursuing.


As experts in U.S. military deployments, we think it is clear that the loss of these bases creates problems for U.S. regional interests in Africa and cedes ground to Russia and China. This places the U.S. in a disadvantageous position for creating political influence in Africa.

The U.S. has a military presence in several African countries.

In Niger, the U.S. has had two military bases, called Air Base 101 and Air Base 201, and first started drone operations in 2013.

While Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, its geographic location and natural resources have increased its importance to global powers. Specifically, Niger’s location gives the U.S. ability to engage in counterterrorism throughout much of West Africa.


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