France faces a potential military pullout from Niger after the coup, jeopardizing counterterrorism efforts.

In the aftermath of the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, a key ally of France, the French army is engaged in discussions with Niger’s military regarding the potential withdrawal of certain elements of its presence in the region. This move comes amid growing speculation that France may be compelled to execute a complete military pullout from Niger.

Growing Uncertainty Surrounding France’s Military Presence

Currently, approximately 1,500 French troops are stationed in Niger, playing a pivotal role in the broader campaign against jihadist groups in the Sahel.

The significance of Niger in France’s strategic efforts escalated following previous coup-driven withdrawals of French forces from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.

A source within the defense ministry, who chose to remain anonymous, confirmed that talks regarding the withdrawal of specific military elements have commenced. However, specific details about the negotiations were not disclosed.

Strained Relations: The Fallout Between Niger and France

The rift between Niger and France, historically close allies, has widened since Paris upheld the legitimacy of President Bazoum’s elected government and denounced the post-coup regime. On August 3, the coup leaders further exacerbated tensions by renouncing several key military cooperation agreements with France.

Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine, appointed by the military junta, indicated on Monday that discussions were underway to expedite the departure of French troops. Despite the strained relations, Zeine expressed a desire to maintain cooperation with France, acknowledging their shared history.