William Molinié / Photo credits: AFP 08:34, September 26, 2023Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday evening the departure of the ambassador and the 1,500 soldiers, still present in Niger, before the end of the year. A complex operation and a perilous logistical challenge, especially since the ruling junta has closed its airspace to French planes.
In Niger, the France diplomatic and military stalemate. If it had taken the French army six months to leave Mali, it is giving itself half as much time to leave Niger. Emmanuel Macron announced the departure of the ambassador and the 1,500 soldiers, still present in Niger, before the end of the year. The logistical challenge is daunting, especially since the Nigeriens have closed their skies to French planes.
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A full-fledged military operation
This withdrawal is being prepared as a full-fledged military operation. 1,500 soldiers to evacuate, dozens of Serval and Griffon armored vehicles, transport trucks, a hospital and radars to dismantle... Several switching options are on the table, such as the southern route to the ports of the Gulf of Guinea, Cotonou in Benin or Lomé in Togo, from where these thousands of tons of military equipment can then be loaded onto ships.
A "multimodal" withdrawal plan
Another land route, that of the East. A very long road of nearly 2,000 km, which leads to N'Djamena in Chad, considered by Paris as the last stronghold of the region where already stationed 1,000 soldiers tricolor. This is without counting the aircraft of the projected air base of Niamey which are for the moment grounded: at least three mirages 2000D, Reaper drones, helicopters, tactical transport aircraft type A400M.
This logistical operation must take place "in good order and security", confides a senior officer. A "multimodal" withdrawal plan, continues this source. A kind of combination of all these options that is reassessed regularly depending on the situation.