[QODLink]
Africa

Niger agrees to US drones on its territory

Agreement set to improve collection of intelligence on al-Qaeda-linked groups in northern Mali and the wider Sahara.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2013 16:10

Niger has given permission for US surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, according to a senior government source.

Bisa Williams, US ambassador to Niger, made the request at a meeting on Monday with Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger president, who immediately accepted it, the source said on Wednesday.

"Niger has given the green light to accepting [US] surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection of
intelligence on Islamist movements," the source, who asked not to be identified, said.

Niger will be the sixth US drone base in Africa [Al Jazeera]

The drones could be stationed in Niger's northern desert region of Agadez, which borders Mali, Algeria and Libya, the
source said.

Niger will be the sixth African nation to have a US drone base. Other countries with drone bases include: Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Djibouti.

A spokesperson for the US African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment.

After her talks with Issoufou, Williams said they had discussed economic and military co-operation and development issues.

She also expressed US appreciation for the French-led military mission to expel an alliance of al-Qaeda-linked fighters from northern Mali.

General Carter Ham, head of the US Africa Command, visited Niger last month.

The impoverished and landlocked West African state has said it wants to have closer security co-operation with the US.

Despite the controversy of the drone programme in countries like Yemen and Pakistan, Robert Densmore, former US naval flight officer and editor of Defence Report, says North Africa is much more likely to be accepting of the unmanned technology.

"Many people in North Africa rate the risk from al-Qaeda higher" than they did 12 months ago," he told Al Jazeera from London.

The US already has drones and surveillance aircraft stationed at several points around Africa.

Its only permanent military base is in the small country of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, more than 5,000km from Mali.

368

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.