|Niger 322 Parachute Rgmt.
Niger is located east of Mali. There’s a map (below) that will help you locate the country if you are presently unfamiliar with it. The US maintains an air base near Niamey that is used primarily as a drone and surveillance/special purpose aircraft facility.
Yesterday, Islamic militants executed coordinated attacks at two locations in Niger. In one attack, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a French-Niger owned uranium mine in the town of Arlit. Simultaneously and 125 miles south, another bomber detonated a car bomb inside a military camp in the city of Agadez. Other jihadists in vehicles attempted to overrun the base, but were stopped by a firefight with Nigerian soldiers. The bombs killed 5 bombers, 25 people and injured 29, according to the Ministry of Defense. No expatriates were killed.
These were the first terrorist attacks of this kind in Niger. The two towns are in central Niger. Some of the facilities for processing uranium ore were damaged at Arlit. An affiliate of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, known as the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility. They were also involved in the Mali fighting. Nigerien officials judge the fighters came from Libya. One said that Libyan instability is destabilizing the entire region. So much for US SECSTATE Hillary Clinton’s view of Libya as the shining example of Arab Spring.
Niger is poor, it has poor infrastructure and has a small, poorly supported military that is not prepared to deal with an Islamic Jihad.
This attack will likely compel France to redeploy troops withdrawing from Mali to Niger.
80 percent of France’s energy comes from nuclear power. Niger is France’s single most important supplier of uranium for its extensive nuclear and electric power industries.
|2REP in Mali — Packing for Niger?
(French Foreign Legion)
The Sahelian nations** and France will clearly need outside help if they are to hold their ground against the onslaught of fundamentalist Islam. While I don’t see the US playing a major role within the foreseeable future, AFRICOM can offer assistance in a supporting role (surveillance, logistics, etc.)
**Communauté des Etats Sahélo-Sahariens consists of 28 countries that occupy a free-trade area throughout northern and central Africa. Morocco is said to be the leader among equals in this organization.