Explainer: the role of foreign military forces in Niger

Niger is one of the most militarised countries in Africa. In November 2017, this came to wider notice when four American Special Forces soldiers and at least four of their Nigerien counterparts died in an ambush. Since then, the military presence has only intensified. Why are these forces there, whose interests are they serving and are they having the impact that was intended?

The US is not the only nation with a military presence in Niger. FranceGermanyCanadaand Italy also have troops in the West African country.

In April this year, Niger hosted Exercise Flintlock, a military exercise that brought together 1900 troops from more than 20 partner countries. Sponsored by the US, it purported to develop capacity and collaboration among African security forces to protect civilians against violent religious extremism.

Three main reasons are given for this military presence: countering terrorism, preventing migration of Africans to Europe, and protecting foreign investments.

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Originally published on The Conversation

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