The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) has confirmed the withdrawal of its personnel from Niger as of January 2024. This development represents a notable change in Canada’s military presence in the region. Initially, Canadian forces were expected to remain in Niger for planning future activities, despite the military coup that ousted Niger’s democratically elected government in July 2023. However, this stance reversed quickly, leading to the complete withdrawal of Canadian personnel by early 2024.
The background of this decision is intertwined with broader geopolitical changes in Niger and neighboring African countries. Following the coup, Niger’s military government severed defense ties with the European Union and expelled French troops. This action resonated positively with the Nigerien public due to historical grievances against France. Subsequently, Niger, along with other African nations like Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, and Mali, has been increasing military cooperation with Russia, seeking support in military, economic, and insurgency-related areas.
The withdrawal from Niger marks an end to a decade-long Canadian military presence in the country, where up to 50 Canadian soldiers annually trained the national army in counterterrorism operations under Operation Naberius.