France begins withdrawing its troops from Niger

Niamey, Niger – French troops have begun withdrawing from Niger, following a months-long standoff with the country’s military junta. The withdrawal marks a significant setback for France’s counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, and could have far-reaching consequences for regional stability.

France has maintained a military presence in Niger for decades, primarily to combat jihadist groups operating in the region. However, ties between the two countries have been strained in recent years, amid growing anti-French sentiment in Niger and other Sahel nations.

In July 2023, a military coup ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, who was seen as close to France. The junta that took power has since called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Niger, and has been increasingly critical of France’s role in the region.

France initially resisted the junta’s demands, but announced in October that it would begin withdrawing its troops in the face of mounting pressure. The withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The departure of French troops is a major blow to the fight against jihadism in the Sahel. France has been the leading Western power in the region, and its troops have played a crucial role in counterterrorism operations.

The withdrawal could also have wider implications for regional stability. Niger is a key member of the G5 Sahel, a five-nation counterterrorism force. The departure of French troops could weaken the G5 Sahel and make it more difficult to combat jihadist groups in the region.

The French withdrawal is also likely to further strain relations between France and its former colonies in Africa. Anti-French sentiment has been on the rise in many African countries in recent years, and the withdrawal from Niger could fuel further resentment.

The future of France’s counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel is now uncertain. The withdrawal from Niger is a major setback, but France is likely to continue to play a role in the region, albeit in a more limited capacity.

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