American fears of Russian penetration into West Africa

The rapprochement and good relations between Russia and the head of the military regime in Niger, General Abderrahmane Tiani, raise fears of the United States of America about losing its vital influence in West Africa.
In a setback to Washington’s counter-terrorism strategy against extremist groups in the region, Niger recently announced the cancellation of the agreement that had been in effect since 2012 with the United States, noting that there are about 1,000 American military and civilian personnel in the country.

What would canceling the agreement with the United States mean?
Canceling the agreement could mean the closure of US Air Base 201, a $110 million facility built in the north of the country in 2018 to conduct drone surveillance for ISIS and al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahel.
Air Base 201 is one of the largest US drone facilities in Africa, and the only one in that part of the continent.
American drones at this base provide intelligence and reconnaissance information, in addition to directing strikes against terrorist organizations.
Washington fears that losing its bases in Niger would risk the country neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali falling under Russian domination.
The Russian “Wagner” group has established a presence in Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as in several other African countries.
After last July’s coup in Niger, Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin issued a statement in which he welcomed the new military government and offered his company’s services.
The United States made its own overtures to the junta earlier this year during a tense visit by representatives of the State Department and the Pentagon, who hoped to maintain cooperation after the coup and prevent the country from falling under Russian and Iranian influence.


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