U.S. Planning To Establish New Drone Bases In Ghana, Ivory Coast And Benin

The Wall Street Journal reported on January 4 that talks were under way as the Biden administration was seeking to establish drone bases at airfields in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Benin following a coup in Niger over the summer that jeopardized the U.S. military position there.

Stars and Stripes magazine reported in December that the U.S. cut the number of military personnel deployed to Niger by more than 40% in the wake of the coup, which, ironically, was led by a Special Forces officer, Moussa Salaou Barmou, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the National Defense University in Washington.

The coup plotters characterized Niger’s deposed President Mohamed Bazoum as a “corrupt pawn of France,” repudiating his support for a $110 million U.S. drone base in the desert city of Agadez, which has functioned as a hub for U.S. drone operations in West Africa.

In a December 7 letter to Congress, the Biden administration said there are now 648 American military personnel in Niger, down from the roughly 1,100 who were there before the coup. The U.S. had been forced to end its collaboration with Niger on counterterrorism efforts in accordance with American rules that prohibit partnerships with military juntas.

To make up for the potential “loss of Niger” (as a Western outpost that is), the Biden administration has proposed basing drones at Ghana’s Tamale Air Force Base within easy reach of the Burkina Faso border, in Parakou, Benin, a town also close to Burkina Faso, and at three potential locations in the Ivory Coast.

The close placement of the bases to Burkina Faso points to an underlying geo-political agenda.

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