On March 16th, the African nation of Niger announced the termination of its military partnership with the United States, leading to a directive for approximately 1,000 U.S. military personnel to exit the nation.

This development, unveiled by the military leadership of Niger yesterday, follows discussions with representatives from the United States and the senior U.S. military official for Africa, General Michael E. Langley. This action aligns with a growing trend in the Sahel region, a dry expanse just south of the Sahara Desert, where nations are increasingly distancing themselves from Western affiliations to form alliances with other countries, notably Russia.

The decision by the military rulers of Niger comes after France, Niger’s former colonial ruler and a key player in anti-terror operations in West Africa for the last ten years, also saw its troops withdrawn from the country amid rising anti-Western sentiments in the region. Colonel Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson for Niger’s military, declared on national television that the American military’s presence was unauthorized and in violation of Niger’s constitutional and democratic principles, which demand that the nation’s duly elected representatives approve such foreign military engagements.

The statement from Niger’s National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), which oversees the military government, was made public following candid conversations in Niamey about the concerns the U.S. had regarding the CNSP’s direction, according to Matthew Miller, the State Department’s chief spokesman. Despite the military coup that positioned the junta in power and sidelined President Mohamed Bazoum, the U.S. has sought to maintain its cooperative relationship with Niger.