France will pull its troops out of Niger by the end of the year following a coup in the West African country in July, dealing a huge blow to French influence and counter-insurgency operations in the West Africa Sahel region.
Niger, a key ally of Western countries against Islamist insurgencies in the Sahel, is host to a number of foreign forces. Those numbers have increased over the past two years following coups in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, which soured relations between the countries and their Western partners.
Following is a list of Western countries with troops in the West and Central Africa region.
France has 1,500 troops in Niger, with support from drones and warplanes.
It had counter-insurgency troops in West Africa for a decade but turned to Niger to base the bulk of its forces following coups in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
The junta that ousted Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 has revoked a raft of military agreements with France
Prior to the coup, France had sought to avert potential criticism of its role in the Sahel and minimise anti-French sentiment by shifting its focus to supporting local forces, rather than having Western soldiers doing much of the leg work on the ground.
It still maintains military bases Chad (1,000 troops), Ivory Coast (900 troops), Senegal (350 troops), Gabon (400 troops), some of which are being transformed into co-managed operations with national armies, to play down Paris’ role
There are about 1,100 U.S. troops in Niger, where the U.S. military operates out of two bases. In 2017, the government of Niger approved the use of armed American drones to target militants.
It is unclear how much the United States has given in security assistance. The U.S. embassy in Niamey in 2021 said the Pentagon and State Department had provided Niger more than $500 million in equipment and training since 2012.
As of Sept. 20, Germany, which is withdrawing its troops that were deployed to Mali for the United Nations peacekeeping operation MUNISMA, said 887 troops were still in Mali including 755 in the northern town of Gao, and others in the capital Bamako. Around 110 German troops are in Niger’s capital Niamey.
Italy had about 300 soldiers in Niger before the coup, according to the country’s defence ministry.
On Aug. 6 its defence ministry said 65 Italian soldiers had left Niger by military plane, as it sought to make room in its military base for civilians who may need protection. That left about 250 troops deployed for counter-insurgency and military training missions remaining in Niger.
The bloc has 50-100 troops for a three-year military training mission it set up in Niger in December to help the country improve its logistics and infrastructure.