As part of his tour through four African countries this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a point of stopping over in Cote d’Ivoire, where he met with President Alassane Ouattara. The visit came just a week after it was revealed that Cote d’Ivoire was among the locations under consideration for a new U.S. drone base in West Africa, with talks between the two sides ongoing.
The U.S. interest in Cote d’Ivoire as a potential location for a drone base in the region is the latest fallout from last July’s military coup in Niger, whose geopolitical ramifications have gone far beyond the country’s borders.
The U.S. currently still operates a drone base in Niger, which it uses to run surveillance and counterterrorism operations in the Sahel. France also had a sizable military presence in the country, as part of a decade-long effort to combat violent jihadist groups whose territorial control has rapidly expanded in recent years. According to a United Nations report, the government of Mali now controls as little as 15 percent of its territory, while the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, regional bloc says that only around 60 percent of Burkina Faso remains under state control.