“The U.S. on Tuesday formally designated this summer’s military uprising in Niger a coup d’état, a decision it had delayed for months in the hopes of avoiding another blow to its military strategy to combat al Qaeda and Islamic State in western Africa.
The designation triggers U.S. laws restricting assistance to militaries that oust elected leaders. In July, Nigerien officers seized power from civilian President Mohamed Bazoum, a staunch U.S. ally who remains imprisoned in his official residence in Niamey, the country’s capital.
Bazoum’s ouster left the Biden administration in a dilemma: The U.S. seeks to promote democratic rule in Africa, but has also relied on Niger’s military to help stop the spread of Islamist militants in the Sahel, a semidesert band of countries south of the Sahara.
Over the past decade, the U.S. has spent some $500 million building up Niger’s military, providing training as well as equipment ranging from tents and radios to surveillance planes and armored personnel carriers.
U.S. commandos stopped training Nigerien special forces and advising them on counterterrorism operations after Bazoum’s ouster. The designation extends that suspension. American drones continue to fly out of a $110 million, U.S.-built drone base in Agadez in northern Niger, but they no longer provide real-time intelligence to Nigerien troops during combat missions.”