US contemplating physical elimination of junta leaders: Russia's SVR
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service reveals that the United States is contemplating the elimination of certain African leaders, particularly those associated with the military junta in Niger.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has reported that the United States is contemplating the possibility of eliminating certain African leaders, including those from the military junta in Niger.
SVR noted that the decision comes as the US is dissatisfied with the recent developments in Niger following the military coup.
The US aims to slow down Africa's progression toward becoming a center of the multipolar world and potentially take over France's influence in the Sahel region, as per SVR.
"The White House is working on various options for 'strengthening democracy' in Niger. It is considered unjustified to do this with the help of the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS), which has close ties to Paris. The Americans consider the physical elimination of the ‘junta leaders’ who rely on the support of the majority of the population as a more ‘effective’ option. US intelligence agencies directly discuss the issue of potential perpetrators of possible assassination attempts with partners," the SVR said in a statement.
This is happening as Washington's military involvement in Africa, most notably in Niger, is coming under heightened scrutiny.
What about the US presence in Niger?
Currently, this situation has cast a spotlight on the extensive US military presence in the nation, prompting inquiries regarding the potential requirement for American forces to vacate a significant drone facility that holds substantial importance for alleged regional counter-terrorism endeavors.
Situated close to the modest northern metropolis of Agadez, this base serves as the central hub for launching a substantial portion of Washington's intelligence and surveillance missions across West Africa.
The operational capacity of the US drone fleet in the region, which previously operated from this base, has been temporarily halted due to the junta's order to shut down Nigerien airspace following the coup.
Origin of US presence
The US presence in Niger dates back to 2002 when the George W. Bush administration was winding up its so-called "Global War on Terror."
The construction of the Agadez base incurred an expenditure of $110 million by the United States. Additionally, the US has allocated security assistance exceeding $500 million to the nation since 2012.
A substantial portion of this assistance has been invested in training Nigerien officers and offering support in operations under the guise of eradicating terrorist factions that have established a foothold in the region over the past few years. At present, the country hosts a consistent contingent of approximately 1,100 American soldiers.
How did the US affect Niger?
Journalist Nick Turse's research suggests that the US presence in Niger might have negatively impacted the country's security. Attacks have surged since US involvement, and several junta leaders received US military training, implying that US influence hasn't fostered respect for democracy among the Nigerien ranks, as per Responsible Statecraft.
Significantly, ongoing security issues trace back to the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya, Niger's northern neighbor. The collapse of the Libyan state in 2011 led to arms proliferation and armed fighters in the region, creating instability, as outlined in a recent Council on Foreign Relations report. The presence of illicit weapons empowered insurgent groups, resulting in Sahel instability and subsequent military coups.
While US officials emphasize that the Pentagon won't depart Niger without a government request, the junta refrains from antagonizing the US, instead challenging France. Junta leader Abdourahamane Tchiani targets France, annulling military agreements and demanding French forces' departure. France, retaining 1,500 troops in Niger, rejects junta-made decisions as illegitimate.
In what cases would the US leave Niger?
If ECOWAS' military threats materialize, numerous analysts contend that the US would probably be compelled to depart. Sarah Harrison from the International Crisis Group, speaking on an Arms Trade Forum panel, noted that a regional war resulting from an ECOWAS invasion would place the Defense Department in a precarious position.
If an invasion occurs, Harrison posited that the US might have to withdraw due to protection concerns. The potential for a "Black Hawk Down"-like scenario, with its moral and political ramifications, makes the decision evident.