US Senate votes to keep troops in Niger

As the planet teeters on the edge of World War III, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted against legislation that would have forced President Biden to bring home U.S. troops stationed in Niger where the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown by the country’s military leaders in July.

“We must be courageous enough to debate if America’s national interest in Niger is of such vital importance that we ask our young men and women to fight and potentially pay the ultimate sacrifice for it,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who introduced the legislation, prior to the Thursday vote.

“If we’re going to send someone’s son or daughter to a foreign country, if they are going to risk their life, Congress should vote on them being there,” he argued.

In a Senate speech, Paul questioned the “sense” of having U.S. troops in the West African nation.

“With the Middle East on fire, what sense does it make to have over 1,000 troops in Niger? Does it make sense to station over 1,000 troops in a country ruled by a military junta?” he asked, according to Reuters.

Ultimately, however, the Senate rejected Paul’s measure in an 86-11 vote.

After much pressure, the US State Department finally declared the military seizure of power in Niger a coup d’etat — a move that many felt could impact America’s ability to work with the nation. Niger is considered to be a vital US counter-terrorism partner in the region.

According to Reuters, “Over the past decade, U.S. troops have trained Nigerien forces in counterterrorism and operated two military bases, including one that conducts drone missions against Islamic State and an Al Qaeda affiliate in the region.”

While the coup designation does mean assistance will be officially suspended, U.S. officials made clear there were no plans to pull all of America’s troops from the nation.

“There are about 1,000 Department of Defense personnel in the country,” Reuters reports.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.) warned that an American withdrawal would potentially open the door to Russia or Wagner mercenaries to rush in and fill the resulting vacuum.

“We do not give enough attention to that part of the world,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to signal that we’re abandoning that part of the world.”

Following the disappointing vote, Paul took to X and vented his frustration: “86 of my colleagues chose to stand idly by as the president sends their constituents’ sons and daughters into harm’s way, to fight wars with no clear objective, with no definition of victory, with no exit strategy, and with no constitutional authorization.”


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