This mission can be dangerous for the soldiers involved: According to information from WELT AM SONNTAG, the Europeans want to carry out a new EU mission in Niger from next year. The decision is expected to be made in mid-December at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. The mission, called “EU Partnership Mission Niger”, is initially planned for three years.
The military mission has three goals: training Nigerien armed forces, supporting "military institutions" in the country and supplying heavy and lethal weapons, especially for air forces. The funds are said to come from the European Peace Facility (EPF), a new EU special fund for use in crisis regions. Arms deliveries from EU countries to Ukraine are currently also being financed from this.
In Brussels, it is said that the Europeans should not lose sight of the other global trouble spots that could threaten the security of Europe, in addition to Ukraine. This is also the claim of the new Strategic Compass, a basic EU document on the direction of security and defense policy, which was largely created under the influence of EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell.
In the future, the West intends to increasingly focus on Niger when it comes to stabilizing the Sahel, according to well-informed high-ranking diplomats. The country is considered far more stable than Mali, Chad or Burkina Faso. The government in Niger has also clearly spoken out against cooperation with Russia and has had good channels to the West for years.
According to a United Nations ranking, Niger is one of the least developed countries in the world, is three and a half times the size of Germany and currently has around 24 million inhabitants. It is considered a gateway for Islamist terrorists who are trying to exploit the poverty and dissatisfaction of the people in order to establish themselves in the region.
With the new mission, the EU is primarily concerned with better training and equipping the Nigerien armed forces in the fight against Islamist terror and at the same time making a contribution against migration. Because Niger is an important hub for migration in Africa. Since 2016, Germany, France and the USA have provided the country with billions to stabilize political institutions, support the economy and fight poverty.
The new mission came about primarily under pressure from France. Paris, like other Western countries, has previously largely withdrawn from the Sahel. In particular, the international commitment in Mali, where a military junta has been set up that relies on the feared Russian mercenaries of the so-called Wagner group, is considered to have largely failed.
In addition to political stabilization, Paris is also concerned with tangible economic interests: the French company Orano operates three mines there for the exploitation of uranium, which is urgently needed for nuclear power plants at home.
From a German perspective, Niger is something of an anchor of stability in a region where chaos, war and abject poverty reign. The Bundeswehr has been training army special forces fighting against the Islamic State (IS) in Niger since 2018. France is mainly represented by foreign legionnaires.