As Security Focus on Niger Grows, U.S.-France Tensions Brew: Part II

As Security Focus on Niger Grows, U.S.-France Tensions Brew: Part II

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part investigative series on U.S. and French counterterrorism efforts in Niger. Part I examined Niger's emergence as a target of terrorist groups active in the Sahel region. Part II examines the growing U.S. security presence in Niger, and the nascent tensions with France over how best to counter terror and bolster Niger's security.

Though much has been made of Niger’s recent ascendance as a key U.S. ally in the Sahel region, the country had already begun to distinguish itself as a useful counterterrorism ally in Department of Defense circles as early as 2006. However, political issues, namely a constitutional crisis in 2009 and a military coup in 2010, complicated the relationship. Once elections were held and Niger’s democracy was restored in 2011, the U.S. was eager to “re-normalize” relations and expand cooperation.

Further impetus to deepen security ties was added by the fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011—which drove an estimated 200,000 Nigeriens living in Libya, many of whom were armed fighters, back to Niger—as well as the ensuing collapse of Mali in 2012.

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