US plans to set up a base for drones in northwest Africa to enhanced surveillance of African insurgents and for the direct operational, situational and strategic control of the area.
An analyst says Washington’s military plans to set up a base for US drones in Northwest Africa coincide with Africa’s ‘increased significance as a supplier of oil, natural gas and other vital resources.’
The comment comes as US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that the US military command in Africa (AFRICOM) is preparing plans to establish a base for unmanned aircraft, which would likely be located in western Niger, in order to increase its spying operations in the region.
The officials also said the base would be used for flying reconnaissance drones only, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point in the future.
If the plan is approved, up to 300 US military service members and contractors could be sent to the base to operate the drone aircraft.
US Africa Command was also looking at an alternative location for the base in Burkina Faso, the official said.
The United States and Niger signed a status of forces agreement on Monday, which will provide legal safeguards for any American forces in the country. The Pentagon secures such agreements for base arrangements or troop deployments.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus Think Tank in Washington to further discuss the issue.