Here’s why Niger’s coup matters to the U.S.

The recent coup in Niger is raising concerns in the U.S. due to Niger’s crucial role in counterterrorism efforts in Africa.

Understanding the coup: The political instability in Niger, triggered by a recent military coup, has spurred U.S. diplomacy.
* Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that U.S. relations with Niger hinge on “democratic governance and respect for the rule of law.”

Why it matters: Niger’s geopolitical significance to the U.S. lies in its contribution to counterterror operations.
* The African nation hosts U.S. drone bases and accommodates hundreds of American Special Forces and logistics experts offering resistance against terrorist outfits like Boko Haram and ISIS.

International perspective: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed concern over escalating terror activities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
* All three nations have recently experienced military coups, worsening the overall stability of the region located south of the Sahara.
* Guterres has urged coup leaders to release Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, who is currently under detention.

U.S. stance: The U.S. has stopped short of officially recognizing the military takeover as a coup.
* The American government, while supporting President Bazoum and demanding his release, prefers to describe the coup as “an effort to seize power by force and to disrupt the constitution.”
* In an earlier visit to Niger, Blinken had announced $150 million in economic aid and lauded Bazoum’s efforts against violent extremism.

Future concerns: The U.S. is keen to maintain Niger as an ally in counterterror initiatives.
* The challenge lies in ensuring Niger refrains from seeking security assistance from Russian mercenary group, Wagner, who have been associated with instability in regions where they operate.

View original article on NPR

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