In addition to having about 1,000 US ground troops operating in their country, Niger also plays host to the US drone base. Yet this base has only been used within the country for surveillance, with Niger long resisting the idea of the US conducting strikes inside their country.
The US used the October 4 ambush along the Niger-Mali border as an excuse to push for such permission, and it appears to have been successful, with Defense Minister Kalla Mountari confirming that he had given the US permission.
Mountary says that Niger is now encouraging the US to use armed drones “as needed” in the area along the Mali border. He did not specify if this permission was nationwide or just for the country’s westernmost region.
Mountary also declined to say if the US was yet using drones in the country, saying only “our enemies will find out.” US officials said they “welcomed” the announcement, but likewise declined to provide details on such operations.