PBS News Hour | Security concerns grow as US troops leave Chad and Niger | Season 2024

JOHN: THE AFRICAN COUNTRIES OF NIGER AND CHAD ARE BOTH KEY PARTNERS WITH THE UNITED STATES IN FIGHTING TERRORIST GROUPS IN THE REGION.

BUT, AS ALI ROGIN TELLS US, COOPERATION IS IN DOUBT NOW AS BOTH COUNTRIES ARE REGISTERED BY MILITARY REGIMES.

>> THE AMERICAN PRESENCE CARES US

TROOPS OF EYES AND BOOTS ON THE GROUND IN THE stronghold FOR ISLAMIC GROUPS LIKE ISIS AND AL QAEDA.

MAY be responsible for almost half of all terrorism deaths worldwide.

IT HAS NEARLY 1,000 MILITARY PERSONNEL AND AN AIR BASE FROM WHICH THE US LAUNCHES DRONE OPERATIONS.

SPECIAL Troops are stationed in Chad’s capital and have been training forces in both countries.

THE MULTIPLE FORCES IN NIGER ARE ON THE ROAD.

LIKE US

FORCES WITHDRAW, US opponents try to fill the DROID.

RUSSIA HAS SENT MILITARY INSTRUCTORS TO NIGER AND VLADIMIR PUTIN HAS CHAD LEADER IN MOSCOW THIS YEAR.

PETER, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE ROOMS?

>> IN PARTICULAR, THE DEPARTURE AND LOSS OF THE TWO AIR BASES ARE SIGNIFICANT.

IT TOOK A DECADE TO BUILD THESE FACILITIES TO TRAIN THE LOCAL FORCES WE DEAL WITH AND TO CONDUCT OPERATIONS NOT ONLY IN NIGER, BUT THESE BASES WERE USEFUL FOR OPERATIONS OVER A LARGE PART OF AFRICA.

IT WILL BE A SUBSTANTIAL LOSS AND SETUP.

There’s no sugar coating it.

Over time, replacement facilities may be found, but capacity will take time to build and partnerships will be lost.

>> CAN THIS BE AVOIDED?

WHAT COULD THE US HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

>> I THINK WE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT THE WINDS OF CHANGE WERE REACHING AFRICA.

THE POLITICAL ELITES ARE WIDELY DISCREDITED IN THESE COUNTRIES, JUST BECAUSE THERE IS AN ADDITIONAL OVERPEL OF A GOVERNMENT DOES NOT MEAN WHAT PREVIOUSLY WAS A JEFFERSONIAN DEMOCRACY.

HONESTLY, OUR FRENCH FRIENDS AND ALLIES ARE PARTNERS, BUT THEY HAVE A LOT OF LUGGAGE IN THE REGION.

THERE IS WIDESPREAD unrest about them.

THERE IS SOME CONTAMINATION BY ASSOCIATION.

WE probably could have managed the situation much better in terms of being attuned to what was happening, the dynamics, and also our involvement in the regimes that emerged.

>> WHAT HAPPENED ARE EIGHT MILITARY STAPS AND WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA SINCE 2020.

WHY DID THEY FIGHT THE REGION LIKE THIS?

>> PART OF IT IS WITH WHAT CAME BEFORE, THERE WERE ELECTIONS BUT IT WASN’T NECESSARILY THE JUDGMENT ELECTIONS.

EVEN WHERE THEY WERE DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS, THESE WERE YOUNG DEMOCRACY WHERE GOVERNMENTS FAILED.

WHEN I WAS A HEALTH SPECIALIST, I kept repeating that the region was having a crisis of state legitimacy.

GOVERNMENTS DO NOT PROVIDE THEIR PEOPLE WITH BASIC GOODS, SERVICES AND PROTECTION.

PEOPLE WANT PROTECTION, SAFETY.

I’m not saying military guys are the solution, but they offer an easy, credible solution compared to some of the civilian leaders who came before them.

>> WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THESE LEADERS THAT THEY HAVE AVOID LEADERS FROM THE WEST?

>> THE ONE BIG MISTAKE WE MAKE IS FORCING THEM TO CHOOSE US OR THE OTHER GUY.

ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME KNOWS THAT I HAVE VERY LITTLE WATER FOR OUR CHINESE OR RUSSIAN FRIENDS, BUT THEY OFFER SOLUTIONS.

WE TELL US OR THEM VERY OFTEN BECAUSE THEY CAN DELIVER FAST AND IMMEDIATELY WHICH BECOMES THE EASY CHOICE FOR THE OTHER LEADERS TO CHOOSE.

WE MUST FIND A WAY TO MAINTAIN OUR CONVERSATIONS AND OUR STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME NOT BETRAYING OUR VALUES.

IT IS A DIFFICULT BALANCING ACT.

>> IN NIGER THE DECISION APPEARS FINAL.

TROOPS DEPARTURE.

Talks are underway in Chad.

WHOSE TROOPS ARE COMING BACK TO THE REGION?

>> I think the Chadians are asking a legitimate question in their note.

WHAT ARE OUR FORCES DOING IN Chad?

IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS SINCE WE HAVE HAD DIRECT MILITARY TO MILITARY TRAINING AND AID FROM THE NORMAL KIND FOR WHICH TROOPS STATION IN THIS COUNTRY.

ONE HAS TO DEAL WITH THE NATURE OF THE REGIME IN CHAD AND THE EVENTS THAT HAVE OCCURRED.

THEY ALSO NOW GOING THROUGH AN ELECTION OF TURBULENCE.

I think if they’re going to get through that, there needs to be frank conversations.

WE WILL SEE WHAT COMES OUT.

HOPEFULLY WE WON’T BE FORCED OUT OF ANOTHER COUNTRY IN THE REGION, ESPECIALLY A COUNTRY LIKE CHAD WHICH IS NOT ONLY IN THE REGION, BUT LIBYA TO THE NORTH AND SUDAN TO THE EAST.

IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS SINCE CONGRESS AND THE ADMINISTRATION HAVE PROVIDED MILITARY AID OR TRAINING TO THE CHADIANS.

Part of this is due to the nature of regime transition in the country.

AT THE SAME TIME, THE CHADIANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK: IF YOU ARE NOT HERE TO TRAIN US, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

THE ANSWER IS TO ALSO HELP OUR FRENCH PARTNERS IN SOME TERRORISM OPERATIONS.

IT raises a legitimate question from the Chadian point of view.

WE ARE FINALLY ASSOCIATED WITH A FORMER COLONIAL POWER THAT HAS BAGGAGE IN THE REGION.

>> IN terms of countries filling the vacuum, we searched that Russia has already made its way to NIGER.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF COUNTRIES LIKE RUSSIA AND CHINA FILL THE VACANCY WE LEAVE?

>> IN THE SHORT TERM THEY PROVIDE WHAT SOME OF THESE NEW REGIMES, MILITARY REGIMES, THINK IS A SECURITY BLANKET.

WHETHER WHAT THEY OFFER IS USEFUL IS A DIRECT QUESTION.

BUT IN THE LONG TERM, ARE THEY ABLE TO PROVIDE MILITARY AID, THE TRAINING THAT THE US AND EUROPEAN FRIENDS HAVE PROVIDED?

ARE THEY ABLE TO PROVIDE THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AID THAT THE US AND OUR EUROPEAN FRIENDS HAVE PROVIDED FOR DECADES?

AND THE ANSWER APPEARS TO BE NO.

IN THE SHORT TERM, THEY CAN BENEFIT THE PEOPLE OF NIGER, MALI AND CHAD, WHO MAY PAY THE PRICE FOR SHORT-TERM DECISIONS.

>> FORMER AMBASSADOR AND SPECIAL HEALTH FOR THE REGION AND NOW A PRINCIPAL FELLOW AT THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.