US built a drone base in Niger:Is this a threat to Africa’s national security interests?
News agencies reported that the United States Air Force is building a multi-million dollar base for armed drones in Niger. The Niger Air Base 201 is now functional and lies a few miles outside Agadez, Niger. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokeswoman Samantha Reho attempted to justify the base by claiming that it “will be crucial in the fight against extremism”. “The location in Agadez will improve U.S. Africa Command’s capability to facilitate intelligence-sharing that better supports Niger and other partner nations, such as Nigeria, Chad, Mali and other neighbours in the region and will improve our capability to respond to regional security issues,” Reho said but with it came increased terrorism activity in West Africa.
Mali has experienced increased terrorism activity and many civilians and soldiers have lost their lives in the hands of extremists who appear to have superior weapons that the government.
Questions linger as who is arming and training these terrorists?
Though the drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries this has not led to decline in terrorism activities. Associated Press (AP) reported that the sophisticated base will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey.
US Air Force officials pointed out that the $110 million project is the largest troop labour construction project in U.S. history and that the base will cost $15 million annually to operate. According to AP, the drones at the base are expected to target different groups in countries throughout the Sahel, which is a sprawling region just south of the Sahara, including the area around Lake Chad. Commander Brad Harbaugh, who is in charge of the new base has stated that “the intelligence gathered by the drones can be used by Niger and other U.S. partners for prosecuting extremists”.
News agencies reported that people in Niger expressed their opposition to the increasing US militarisation of their country. The publication Business Insider quotes one Niger citizen, Amadou Roufai, as stating, “We are afraid of falling back into the same situation as in Afghanistan, with many mistakes made by American soldiers who did not always know the difference between a wedding ceremony and a training of terrorist groups,” , while another, Nouhou Mahamadou, declared “The presence of foreign bases in general and American in particular is a serious surrender of our sovereignty and a serious attack on the morale of the Nigerien military,”.
The US under the banner of ‘fighting terrorism in Africa’ is tightening its military grip on the continent while destabilizing entire regions and spreading insecurity. The US must end its interference on the African continent and withdraw its military forces and installations from there.
Africa needs its own military to combat the security challenges many of which are being caused by foreign countries.
Africa Defence Forces will secure the future of Africa and weed out imperialist establishments in Africa.
There is no African country which has a drone base in the United States so why should Niger allow a foreign drone base to be on African soil?
We African people must rise up and defend our country from imperialism and foreign interference which is responsible for increased terrorism activity in Africa.
We need African solutions for African problems to ensure that we safeguard Africa from recolonization and interference in our internal affairs by foreign countries.
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