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As they made their way between mud-brick houses with thatched roofs, they were attacked from one side by dozens of militants, if not hundreds. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Nigeriens and Americans fled, some on binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft, running for cover behind trees and clusters of millet, their boots caked in the light brown earth.

It was the same on the street. Special Operations forces have been in Niger since at least and are stationed around the country on forward operating bases with elite Nigerien soldiers.

Aerial view of the American drone base in Agadez, Niger, on June 4, I boarded a year-old Fokker 50 propeller plane that is owned by Palestinian Airlines and leased to state-owned Niger Airlines with a Palestinian crew. After stopping in the southern cities of Zinder and Maradi, we descended on Agadez, its rectangles and triangles of compounds and dirt roads forming a mosaic, with the surrounding reddish beige of the desert stretching out in all directions as far as the eye can see.

It is being constructed on land formerly used by Tuareg cattle-herders. So far, there is one large hangar, ostensibly where the drones could be housed, a runway under construction, and dozens of smaller structures where soldiers live and work.

American Special Forces operate separately from the drone base, which is run by the Air Force. With that said, I can confirm there are approximately Department of Defense personnel military, civilian, and contractor currently working in Niger, making that country the second-highest concentration of DoD people across the continent, with the first being in Djibouti at Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

InFrance reopened a colonial fort in Madama, close to the border with Libya — unthinkable during the times of Moammar Gadhafi; the Libyan leader maintained a sphere of influence in the region that would have been at binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft with a French military presence.

Sugarcane vendors stand outside during a ceremony at a binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft station in Agadez, Niger, Jan. I visited a school in Agadez and the principal, extremely binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft about my presence, called me into a back room and declined to give his name.

The base is a mystery for a reason. The public affairs office of the U. Embassy in Niger responded to repeated requests for an interview by saying they were processing the request and then eventually refused to answer my questions, explaining they were understaffed due to the three-day government shutdown in late January.

A journalist for The Intercept was not allowed to visit another drone base in Cameroonand people there were also cautious about discussing or binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft it. This underlines a transnational fact: They are often more a source of fear than anything else. American troops patrol its perimeter, according to a neighboring village chief I talked with. Both the Nigerien and the American governments prefer to keep it this way.

A woman and two binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft walk during blowing winds in Agadez, Niger, Jan. There is an unusual question floating around Niger: Is the American base even legal? I showed the U. None of them had ever seen the document and were surprised that it was available online. The base is rarely reported on by the Nigerien media, and most people who knew about it before Tongo Tongo got their information from foreign media reports.

For instance, in Niamey I interviewed Brig. Any member of parliament can ask questions in parliament about the base, and one-tenth of parliament can call for an official inquiry into its legality.

The irony is binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft while the American presence is supposed to help keep the country stable, the U.

American and French soldiers attend a binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft briefing with the Nigerien military commander in charge of the fight against Boko Haram at a Nigerien military base in Diffa, Niger, March 26, Special Forces seem to be involved in far-flung operations that go beyond the mandate of training Nigerien soldiers — Tongo Tongo is not the only example — and generate a lot of confusion, even among the government and its military.

For example, on a recent afternoon, local journalist Ibrahim Manzo Diallo received a video of a Tuareg woman and her two small children in the bush. Curious about this incident, Diallo and I called the local prefect, Aghali Hamadil, who said that a mixed American and Nigerien patrol had indeed stormed a Tuareg camp, and while they released eight people, including the woman and her children, they detained four others and binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft them to Niamey.

When I asked Marou Amadou, the justice minister, whether this was true, he affirmed the account. The commander, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said Bidika had been communicating with binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft terrorists they were looking for, binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft that he had escaped during the raid; four of his lieutenants were detained at Aguelal and sent to a Niamey prison instead.

Aguelal, west of Arlit, is near the Algerian border, and the secret American base there is a recent one. Young men and women from all over West Africa ride buses to Agadez, and then pay hundreds of dollars to sit on top of yellow water jugs in the back of Toyota Hilux pickup trucks, holding onto pieces of wood to keep them aboard as they speed across the desert to enter Libya on their way to Europe. Up untilthe pickups were escorted north in convoys led by the Niger military for safety, and the migrants were made to pay bribes to Nigerien officials at checkpoints along the way.

Agadez depended on this industry for vital income, and the authorities profited from bribes the migrants paid. Things began to change when the city attracted media attention for the migration activity.

Inthe Nigerien government passed a law that targeted smugglers and human traffickers. With the legal backing and the political push from the European Union, by the government began arresting the drivers of migrants and impounding their vehicles. It also carried out patrols in the desert to turn back cars before they reached Libya. Once again, Western governments were forcing the Nigerien government to engage in legally dubious activity.

But sincethe central Libyan government recognized by the U. The Niger government also shut down a popular gold-mining site in the north of the country for opaque reasons, compounding the economic hardship.

The European response has been to ratchet up the number of soldiers in the country. The Italians opened an embassy in Niger in Januaryshortly binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft they announced that they were sending troops to the north of the country to fight migration. A young man who worked in the cafeteria of the base showed me the agreement he signed with the contractor that runs the cafeteria, Sakom. Most food, other than some fruits and vegetables, is shipped in binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft abroad.

The Americans have done very little to help people in Agadez, other than holding a handful of workshops that binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft to be ineffective.

A strong gust of wind kicked up sand outside the building we were sitting in, and passing residents leaned forward and shielded their faces with their elbows. Other workshops have included manuals on hand-washing and sexually transmitted infections, while soldiers donated some benches and notebooks to a local school.

Inrebels and jihadi groups allied with Al Qaeda took over northern Mali following a Tuareg rebellion. By staying behind their barbed-wire fences and providing little binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft support to Agadez, the Americans run the risk of destabilizing the region. President Mahamadou Issoufou speaks to journalists after voting in Niamey on March 20, The man in the middle is Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger. In power for six years, he has adopted a clear strategy for trying to keep control of things — by aligning himself closely with Europe and the United States, while presiding over an electoral system that his opponents describe as rigged.

This is not a recipe for stability in a country that has had little of it since its founding inat the end of French colonial rule. Until migration and terrorism, uranium binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft the focal point of outside, particularly French, interest in Niger. Amadou is now in exile in France, having been released from prison temporarily for medical treatment. Issoufou has taken unprecedentedly pro-Western stances on a number of key issues.

He has allowed for the rapid expansion of the French and American troop presence, as well as opening up the country to German and Italian soldiers. And Issoufou has rewarded those in his administration who follow his vision: Police officers stand guard during an official ceremony in Agadez, Niger, Jan.

His phone began buzzing, and he paused our conversation to take a call. Inhe was a leading member of the civil society opposition to Tandja, the president at the time, and supported the coup that overthrew him in February of that year. Amadou was named leader of the transitional legislative body by the junta, and when he helped usher elections that Issoufou won, he was binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft with the post of justice minister.

He has held the post ever since. As a region, West Africa is no stranger to military power seizures. In neighboring Burkina Faso, the American-trained elite presidential guard carried out a coup that eventually failed inwhile an American-trained captain named Amadou Sanogo led a destabilizing coup in Mali in Niger has had four coups since A band performs at the French cultural center in Agadez, Niger, Jan.

Many people I spoke to in Niger feel their country has had its autonomy usurped by Westerners. Is the American presence helping security at all?

Forces are in Niger to work by, with, and through Nigerien partners to promote stability and security while enabling them to address their security threats. Prior to the disastrous mission in Tongo Tongo, the U. Instead of Cheffou, they found food and other goods indicating he and his men were in the area. Rather than going directly back to their Nigerien base in Ouallam, they continued looking for him and when night fell, they set up camp 5 kilometers from Tongo Tongo, where the village chief had been known to give false alerts, according to a top Nigerien military officer with direct knowledge of the operation.

By spending the night along the border area, they heightened the risks that they faced. There is talk of a sort of competition between the French and U. It is precisely this logic that is so dangerous: American troops are deployed in an advisory and training role. But once on the ground, there is a tendency to push for more activity and engagement, and the Nigeriens have to consistently push back against that. The risks the Americans take result in mistakes, and the mistakes, rather than leading to a reconsideration of the risks, can lead to more escalation.

After Tongo Tongo, for example, Niger authorized the U. Indeed, if a handful of Green Berets can conduct a binaroperationen sind betrugereien die finanzpolizei trifft mission that leads to a major escalation of the conflict, what happens when there are 2, to 3, U. I got the feeling that Agadez was just one or two mistakes away from a radical change in which the American military becomes the focal point of hostility.

Armed drones are a major issue anywhere the U. Anacko is practically an institution in Agadez: Everyone knows him and he knows everyone. As he explains, you can either stop migration or terrorism, but not both. When I met Anacko, he was meeting with other regional council leaders at his secondary office in Niamey, across the road from the national soccer stadium.

I asked him where he saw the country headed. A knock on the door signaled the interview was over. We had reached the Kennedy Bridge in the center of Niamey when we spotted Anacko in his truck, going to a meeting at one of the main hotels in the city. The American military base is seen in the distance in Agadez, Niger, Jan.

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