A logical continuation of the military putsch in Niger at the end of July? The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron announced this Sunday evening the withdrawal of French troops from the Sahel, during his interview on TF1 and France 2. "We are ending our military cooperation in Niger. The soldiers deployed there, too, will return by the end of the year, "promised the head of state, considering that Operation Barkhane in the Sahel had been a "success". The French ambassador to Niger will also return to France, Macron said.
The France has about 1,500 soldiers in Niger, according to specialist Niagalé Bagayoko interviewed at the end of July by Le Parisien. "The France, which has always said that it wanted to remain engaged in the Sahel, had chosen to reorganize its system in a lighter and discreet form to avoid appearing too visible," he explained, after the forced withdrawal of Mali and Burkina Faso. Niger is therefore the "pillar of the new strategy of France in the Sahel", said in early August the specialist Rémi Carayol. The France also has 400 troops in Dakar, Senegal, and 900 troops in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
In late July, a military junta – led by General Abdourahamane Tiani – overthrew incumbent Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum. "This follows the continuous deterioration of the security situation, poor economic and social governance," the putschists justified at the time. Since then, tensions between Niamey and Paris have continued to rise. Niger had accused the France of preparing an armed intervention, which Paris denied. At the end of August, the putschists also ordered the departure of the France ambassador from Niger.
During the day, this Sunday, Niger banned French planes from airspace. Niger's airspace "is open to all domestic and international commercial flights with the exception of French aircraft or aircraft chartered by the France, including those of the Air France fleet," the putschists said in a statement dated Saturday night.