President Obama’s military incursion into Niger, ostensibly to establish a drone base to counter «Al Qaeda» and other Islamist guerrilla activity in neighboring Mali, has little to do with counter-insurgency and everything to do with establishing U.S. control over Niger’s uranium and other natural resources output and suppressing its native Tuareg population from seeking autonomy with their kin in northern Mali and Algeria.
The new drone base is initially located in the capital of Niamey and will later be moved to a forward operating location expected to be located in Agadez in the heart of Tuareg Niger… The base is being established to counter various Islamist groups – including Ansar Dine, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Nigeria-based Boko Haram, and a new group, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) – that briefly seized control of northern Mali from Tuaregs, led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, who took advantage of a coup d’etat in Mali to establish an independent Tuareg state called Azawad.
The U.S. has long been opposed to any attempt by the suppressed Tuareg people to establish their own independent state in the Sahara. American opposition to the Tuaregs dovetails with historical French opposition to Tuareg nationalism.
However, U.S. State Department and CIA personnel have been discussing a U.S. presence in Niger since February 25, 2010, when a U.S. delegation met with the Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), General Souleyman Salou, just one week after the military junta overthrew democratically-elected President Mamadou Tandja in a coup and suspended the Nigerien constitution.