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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Another African state moves to kick out US military – media

Chad has reportedly asked American troops to stop activities at an air base near the capital of N’Djamena

Chad has asked US troops to halt activities at an air base near the capital of N’Djamena, the sole place American military presence in the country, several media outlets reported this week, citing letters sent by the country’s armed forces minister, Air Force Chief of Staff Idriss Amine Ahmed.

The letters were reportedly addressed to the US defense attaché. Reports, however, vary as to the contents of the missives. According to Bloomberg, which claimed to have seen one of the letters and verified it with a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Chad has merely alerted the US “to stop their activity at the base.”

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However, earlier in the week CNN, citing intelligence sources, reported that in a separate letter the US military was ordered to clear out of the Adji Kossei Air Base entirely. Chad also reportedly threatened to cancel the Status of Forces Agreement, the document that governs how the US military can operate in the country.

“Chad hasn’t asked US forces to leave. The US and Chad have agreed that the period following the upcoming Chadian presidential election is an appropriate time to review our security cooperation,” a US State Department spokesman allegedly told Bloomberg.

According to Reuters, in another letter addressed to Chad’s transitional government, Amine Ahmed said he had told the US defense attaché to halt activities at the air base after American troops failed to provide documents justifying their presence there.

“We ask you… to inform the Americans that we have made this decision,” he reportedly wrote.

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Chadian authorities did not respond to media requests for comment.

A US State Department spokesperson told Reuters that Washington is “in ongoing conversations with Chadian officials about the future of our security partnership.” Another official told the news outlet that it was yet unclear if Chad actually wanted US troops to leave the country or if the current situation was more of a political play before the elections next month.

The US reportedly has a contingent of fewer than 100 rotational troops in Chad.

The reports come a month after another African state, Niger, terminated a decade-long military agreement with Washington, which had allowed the US to keep a roughly 1,000-strong contingent in the country.

Anti-West sentiment has been on the rise across Africa, with Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso also recently scrapping military deals with France. Meanwhile, Russia’s influence in the region has been growing. Moscow and Niamey agreed in January to develop military cooperation and work together to combat terrorism in the Sahel region. As of mid-2023, Moscow has signed cooperation agreements with more than 40 African states.