Tag Archives: Uranium

EXCLUSIVE: Obama Appointed Islamic Society Official To Approve Russian Uranium Sale and Gulftainer Port Deal

Originally posted on Big League Politics:

The Obama administration placed Aimen Nabi Mir, former two-time president of the youth wing of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), into the top advisory position to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a national security post at the Treasury Department.

Aimen Mir was the CFIUS Staff Chairperson from 2009 until 2014. During that time, Aimen Mir played a key role in the CFIUS panel’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom. Mir also played a key role in the Treasury Department’s refusal to investigate the UAE’s Gulftainer 35-year cargo container terminal lease at Port Canaveral, a critical military infrastructure facility for U.S. naval and space operations. Both decisions severely damaged United States national security.

Aimen Mir helped set the table for Vladimir Putin to seize control of over 20 percent of U.S. uranium and was part of the decision that awarded control of Port Canaveral’s cargo container terminal to Saddam Hussein’s rogue nuclear weapons scientist and designated Iraq War enemy combatant, Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar.  Dr. Jafar’s brother and business partner, Gulftainer co-owner Hamid Jafar, was under investigation by the Treasury Department and four congressional committees for his ‘Oil For Superweapons” scheme in concert with Saddam Hussein.

For starters, Aimen Mir’s ISNA connections are troubling. ISNA is one of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S. and was named by the Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.

Further, Aimen Mir is the son of Kashmir-born physician Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir, an ISNA Founders Committee member. Dr. Mir is also the president of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), an Islamic platform Dr. Mir uses to aggressively advocate for Kashmir’s secession from India in order to join Pakistan. WKAF’s Secretary General “Dr.” Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, is a convicted felon, also from Kashmir, who served as a Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) operativeinside the United States.

Fai was arrested by the FBI in 2011 for covertly operating as an unregistered foreign agent while receiving $3.5 million dollars in wire transfers from the ISI. Fai used some of that money to fund an elaborate lobbying operation pushing Kashmiri “independence” on unsuspecting U.S. officials who remained seemingly unaware that Pakistan was running the operation. In 2013, Fai was granted early release from U.S. federal prison by the Justice Department.

Like his father’s ISI partner Fai, Aimen Mir appears to have been running his own operation at CFIUS.

Aimen Mir was the CFIUS Staff Chairperson from 2009 until 2014. During Mir’s five years in the staff chairperson’s seat, CFIUS approved Russia’s 2010 purchase of Uranium One, effectively handing Vladimir Putin control of 20 percent of America’s uranium.  Also during Mir’s term, the Treasury Department refused to conduct two legally-required CFIUS investigations of Port Canaveral’s 2014 container terminal lease concession to the UAE’s Gulftainer.

The Gulftainer deal effectively placed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons mastermind, Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar, along with his longtime Russian KGB/SVR and Iranian regime associates and a UAE Emir inside the wire of a national-security sensitive U.S. port. Gulftainer misrepresented its true ownership; facts that Mir could and should have uncovered easily.

A World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) document (now scrubbed from the IFC website) proved that Gulftainer was owned in part by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Emir of Sharjah, UAE.  Under the Foreign Investment National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA), foreign government ownership of an acquiring entity automatically triggers a mandatory CFIUS review, regardless of whether the transaction is a purchase or a lease. Aimen Mir understood CFIUS and FINSA law and chose to ignore it, as did Treasury Secretary Jacob ‘Jack’ Lew and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

In 2014 the Treasury Department promoted Aimen Mir to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security after the Clinton Foundation-connected Uranium One and Gulftainer Port Canaveral deals closed. Mir’s LinkedIn profile and post-Trump administration inauguration postsshow he’s still at the Treasury Department, now as a career civil servant.

In Gulftainer’s case, the supposedly-rigorous CFIUS national security review process for direct foreign investment transactions was completely and stunningly bypassed. An email released by Wikileaks implicates Gulftainer and the Clintons in a pay-to-play operation involving the Port Canaveral deal.

Both Uranium One and Gulftainer have deep ties to Russian intelligence, nuclear weapons, and uranium enrichment. Gulftainer has additional ties to the Iranian regime and to the architects of Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal.

Gulftainer executive board chairman Badr Jafar visited the White House in 2014, six weeks before the secretly-negotiated Gulftainer deal was announced, signed, and closed.

According to Aimen Mir’s LinkedIn profile, since graduating from Georgetown in 2000, he never served in any national security position before his CIFIUS chairperson appointment. Mir’s work experience was as an immigration attorney at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) representing people from the Middle East seeking asylum in the United States.

CFIUS staff members such as staff chairperson Mir wield tremendous power in the CFIUS process workflow. They conduct research and make recommendations to cabinet-level CFIUS board members or their designated representatives and, through omission, can conceal from those Cabinet members critical national security information about foreign companies looking to invest in U.S.-based operations.

If a CFIUS application is approved before advancing from the 30-day initial review to an additional 45-day investigation involving 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, dangerous deals like Uranium One and Gulftainer deals can fly under the radar of the intelligence community.

According to a 2015 Breitbart report on CFIUS review of the Uranium One deal, “surprisingly the 2009 Annual Report submitted to Congress by CFIUS inaccurately described this approved transaction by stating the company acquiring a minority interest was Canadian rather than Russian.” Breitbart contacted Aimen Mir at the time of that report to ask him if the Uranium One transaction was subjected to a secondary 45-day review but received no response.

The Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States 2015 Annual Report to Congress Public/Unclassified Version, released over a year late, reveals that between 2013 and 2015, there were no covered transactions in the transportation sector involving acquirers from the UAE. In other words, the Treasury Department determined that the Gulftainer deal was not a ‘covered transaction’ and therefore CFIUS did not conduct the required investigation of the deal. That determination was likely made by Aimen Mir and it kept Gulftainer and U.S.- designated enemy combatant Dr. Jafar off the intelligence community’s radar.

The Treasury Department determined that a CFIUS review was not required for Gulftainer’s Port Canaveral deal, according to a 2015 Orlando Sentinel report:

“Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, had asked for a formal Treasury Department review of security issues due to a foreign-owned company operating port facilities.

Port spokeswoman Rosalind Harvey said that never happened. “After extensive filing of all required paperwork to U.S. Treasury Department officials, the panel found that no review was required because the agreement was a lease and not a purchase of Port assets,” Harvey said.”

Unfortunately, there is more.

James Rickards, author and former advisor to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) Support Group of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), stated in an October 18, 2017 tweet that Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper “disbanded” the CFIUS DNI advisory group “before Uranium One.”

It is noteworthy that Director Clapper went before Congress to testify under oath that the NSA, CIA, and other intelligence agencies were not collecting massive amounts of telephonic and Internet metadata on hundreds of millions of innocent American citizens. Revelations by Whistleblower Edward Snowden proved otherwise.

Subsequently Director Clapper was found to have been untruthful and resigned on November 17, 2016, effective the day Donald Trump was sworn in, January 20, 2017. Clapper has not been prosecuted for perjury.

CFIUS rules are clear about what constitutes a ‘covered transaction’:

Considering the post-9/11 national meltdown over the UAE’s Dubai Ports World deal, it is inconceivable that the Gulftainer deal would have received approval without a thorough intelligence review. The Congressional enactment of the Foreign Investment National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) was designed to heavily reinforce CFIUS in order to prevent a repeat of Dubai Ports world debacle.

The Gulftainer (GT USA) Port Canaveral 35-year concession is subject to CFIUS review because:

  • Gulftainer is responsible for safety and security and makes all substantial business decisions at the Canaveral cargo terminal;
  • Gulftainer oversees day-to-day operation of the Canaveral cargo terminal;
  • Port Canaveral is critical infrastructure for commercial maritime, military sealift, surface naval, submarine naval, commercial space, and military space operations;
  • Gulftainer’s cargo terminal is near four military bases: Two USAF, one USN, and one USCG;
  • Gulftainer’s cargo terminal is near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center;
  • Gulftainer’s cargo terminal is near the Eastern Range, critical for space missions and missile testing;
  • Gulftainer is partly-owned by a foreign government (Ruler of Sharjah, UAE), Iraqis involved in WMD production (Jafar family), possibly other “senior Iraqi military figures,” and in business with Russian Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs).

It is unclear how Aimen Mir was able to obtain a security clearance.

Hillary Clinton’s Russian Ghost Stories

Originally posted on the Daily Caller.

Russian intelligence targeted Hillary Clinton before she became secretary of state in 2009, FBI documents show.

New FBI information about corruption in a Clinton-approved uranium deal with Russia raises questions about Clinton’s actions after the FBI broke up a deep-cover Russian spy ring in 2010.

For a decade, the FBI ran an operation called Ghost Stories to monitor and rip apart a deep-cover Russian agent network. Ghost Stories tracked a ring Russian spies who lived between Boston and Washington, D.C., under false identities. It was one of the FBI’s most elaborate and successful counterintelligence operations in history.

After the FBI arrested 10 of the spies in June, 2010, Secretary of State Clinton worked feverishly to return the Russian agents to Moscow in a hastily arranged, lopsided deal with Putin.

It all happened as the uranium deal was in play: An arrangement to provide Moscow’s state Rosatom nuclear agency with 20 percent of American uranium capacity, with $145,000,000 to pour into the Clinton Family Foundation and its projects.

For the Clintons, the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence bust in history couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The day the FBI arrested the Russian agents, on June 28, 2010, the day before the secretary of state’s husband, Bill Clinton, was to give a speech in Moscow. A Kremlin-connected investment bank, Renaissance Capital, paid the former president $500,000 for the hour-long appearance.

An unnamed Hillary Clinton spokesman told ABC News that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.”

That was a lie.

State Department spokesman Phil Gordon brushed off the spy ring as old news: “I don’t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.” Breaking the spy network, he said, was “a law enforcement action.” Gordon’s implication was that it had nothing to do with the department Clinton headed.

That didn’t explain why Clinton stayed silent and worked hard to return the 10 spies back to Moscow, before any could be put on trial or turned by the FBI. Or why Clinton settled for a very poor bargain in a one-sided spy swap. But other evidence does.

FBI says Russian spies targeted Hillary Clinton in 2008

Redacted evidence that the FBI submitted to a federal court shows that Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR), the former KGB First Chief Directorate, targeted Clinton in 2008 and tried to burrow into her inner circle the next year when she was secretary of state. (Press reports often confuse Russia’s main internal security entity, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, with the SVR.)

The SVR spy ring was no old “vestige” from Soviet times that was “still there.” It was a network of younger agents emplaced long after the Soviet collapse. The FBI considers it one of an unknown number of deep, expensive, thorough networks to penetrate and influence the United States government for generations.

Under the code name Operation Ghost Stories, the FBI had been working the ring for a decade. Its targets had burrowed in along the Acela Corridor between Boston, New York, and Washington DC. They lived normal daily lives as Americans to attend universities, run businesses, marry, and conceive and raise children to infiltrate society and subvert government institutions. One of the SVR agents had stolen the identity of a six week-old Canadian baby who had died in 1963. That prompted the Ghost Stories code name. The ring inspired the FX network’s television series, “The Americans.”

As with any secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would be a primary target under any circumstance. But she was much more. She was a known quantity: predictable, vain and ruthless, and with an insatiable desire for cash to enrich her family, friends, and political machine. Blindly ambitious to become president of the world’s only superpower and swearing to come back after losing in 2008 to Barack Obama, she was the 21st century KGB’s perfect mark.

As professional as it had been as the KGB’s espionage division, the SVR invests heavily in long-term human intelligence. The SVR’s crown jewel is its global network of deep-cover agents that it calls “illegals.” Illegals live under presumed identities, without official diplomatic status that would protect them from arrest.

From New York, SVR agent Lidiya Guryeva had Clinton in her sights. Guryeva had a real-life job, under the assumed name Cynthia Murphy, as vice president of a high-end tax services company in lower Manhattan. Guryeva’s prime targets, FBI evidence and later news reports show, were Clinton and no fewer than five members of her inner circle.

Guryeva was far more important than a fellow agent would become the most famous member of the spy ring. The publicity would go to Anna Vasilyevna Kushchenko, who after her arrest would be become a glamourous spy princess under her married name, Anna Chapman.

While the FBI’s unclassified information is vague, it is clear that Guryeva’s target was an early Obama administration member from New York who handled foreign policy after having run for high-level public office. Clinton is the only person fitting that description.

Clinton became secretary of state on January 21, 2009. Two weeks later, on February 3, Guryeva sent an encrypted message to the SVR’s Moscow Center. The agent reported “several work-related meetings” with a New York-based “financier” who was “prominent in politics,” an “active fundraiser” for a major political party whose name the FBI redacted, and “a personal friend” of an Obama cabinet official whom the FBI did not publicly identify. Guryeva told her bosses that she would seek to use that personal friend to “provide” inside information on American foreign policy and the White House, and invite her to major political events.

Politico first identified the financier as Alan Patricof, a venture capitalist who had been finance chairman of Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign from New York, and co-chair of her 2008 presidential campaign. Guryeva’s tax services company had Patricof’s firm as a client. After the arrest, when faced with news reports that he was one of the spy targets, Patricof did what any innocent person would do: He immediately told the press his side of the story and said he had no idea that the person he knew as Cynthia Murphy was actually a Russian spy.

Living under deep cover, illegals take targets of opportunity. FBI evidence to the federal court showed that Guryeva discussed with her husband, also an SVR spy, about whether she should infiltrate the State Department. Guryeva expressed concerns that she would fail a background investigation. So she considered approaching others to gain internal access indirectly.

The Guryev couple’s espionage job, the FBI said, would be “to begin targeting other people, who can be recruited as sources on behalf of Moscow Center.”

Guryeva and her husband would sell their New Jersey house and follow Clinton to the nation’s capital. There, she could get a job with a Washington, DC-based company or policy shop. A tasking message dated October 18, 2009, from Moscow Center sought agents to seek out information “unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources close to State Department, Government, major think tanks.”

As the FBI told the court, “the SVR requested information on the U.S. position with respect to a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Afghanistan, and Iran’s nuclear program.” Moscow Center specifically asked Guryeva for intelligence concerning “approaches and ideas” of what the FBI called “four names of sub-cabinet United States foreign policy officials, omitted,” meaning that all four were deputies to Secretary Clinton whose identities had been redacted.

So we see the SVR target list developing: Clinton, four of her deputies, her former top fundraiser and presidential campaign co-chairman, and influential foreign policy people in Washington.

Hillary Clinton’s interests in Russia when Russians targeted her

All normal activity for the SVR or any other intelligence agency. Now, let’s see what Clinton was doing at the time.

Clinton pledged at Foggy Bottom to “reset” relations with the Putin-controlled regime. She blamed the former George W. Bush administration for the bad feelings. To the Kremlin’s relief, she opposed what would become the Magnitsky Act to sanction Russian criminal oligarchs and regime figures. Weeks into her tenure as secretary, she told Russian television, “our goal is to help strengthen Russia.”

She immediately used her position as America’s top diplomat to pour Russia-related money into her family foundation. One of her earliest acts as secretary of state was personally to authorize the State Department to arrange for 28 American tech CEOs and venture capitalists – 17 of them Clinton Foundation donors – to visit a Russian high-tech hub called Skolkovo. With Skolkovo, the SVR doesn’t need to steal when it can arrange legal purchases. The US military calls Skolkovo “an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage.” The Skolkovo visit, which reportedly began as a Clinton Foundation initiative, occurred in May, 2010, a month before the arrests.

Four days before the FBI would break up the ring, on June 24, Obama personally met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to coordinate billions of dollars in deals with Kremlin-affiliated businesses. Putin held power behind the scenes as prime minister, between his terms as president.

At the time, Obama was pushing a bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which it argued would help stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And, subject to Clinton’s approval, the Russians were in the process of taking control of Uranium One – and taking one-fifth of America’s annual uranium output.

The Government Accountability Institute’s Peter Schweizer discovered the Clinton connection to the Kremlin-connected investment bank and to the approval of US uranium to the agency that controls Russia’s nuclear warhead production. Stakeholders in Uranium One, Schweizer found, would pump $145 million into the Clinton foundation and its sponsored projects.

So Hillary Clinton was mining Kremlin cash for her personal benefit while secretary of state, at the exact time Putin’s SVR spies were targeting her and penetrating her inner circle. She had every personal motivation to make the spy problem disappear and deny that she had been a target.

Once the FBI broke the ring on June 28, 2010, attorney general Eric Holder said that the sudden arrests were to prevent one of the spies from fleeing the United States. FBI counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi later shared a different reason: “We were becoming very concerned they were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.”

There is logic to the FBI’s reasoning. Normally the FBI would want to keep its prizes to knock them out of the spy business for good, or to turn some of them, or to use them as bargaining chips. There is no counterintelligence reason to hand them over in a bad deal. The previous big spy swap with Moscow had been under President Reagan, carefully orchestrated for years, back in 1985. The US exchanged four Soviet bloc spies for five Polish prisoners and 20 alleged American spies in the Soviet bloc. There can also be diplomatic reasons to hang on to captured spies as leverage in negotiations.

Hillary wanted the spy ring issue to disappear fast

Clinton didn’t want leverage. She wanted the issue to go away. She toiled feverishly to get the 10 Ghost Stories spies back to Moscow as quickly as possible. She accepted whatever Putin would give her to pass off as a face-saving swap.

She folded America’s strong hand of cards. The US had ten relatively young, highly trained Russian spies in custody with immense, fresh knowledge of SVR statecraft. A normal secretary of state would bide her time and get the best deal.

The State Department coordinated quickly with the Kremlin to return the spies in a lopsided swap over a busy Fourth of July weekend, when few in Washington were paying attention.

In return, the US accepted an SVR officer who had been an American double agent, an open-source researcher whom Amnesty International considered a political prisoner, a Russian military intelligence colonel who spied for the British, and an elderly ex-KGB man from Soviet times whom not even a Communist court convicted of treason.

All the while, in a separate investigation that John Solomon and Sara Carter separately revealed this week, the FBI was probing Russians involved with the pending Uranium One deal on a range of corruption issues.

The bottom line

So here are the key facts: The FBI found that Russian intelligence had targeted Hillary Clinton before and during her time as secretary of state. Clinton’s spokespersons denied that this was so. Clinton opposed the Magnitsky sanctions on officials tied to Putin. After her husband received a half-million dollars in Moscow from a Kremlin-connected investment bank, Clinton moved with unusual speed to whisk the ring of 10 Russian spies out of the country and back to Moscow. She had the lopsided swap take place over a long summer weekend, before the FBI was finished with the spies, and before the spies could stand trial. While the FBI was separately investigating Russians involved with buying Uranium One, she approved the sale of American uranium to Russia’s nuclear weapons agency. Principals in the sale then plowed $145 million into her family foundation and projects.

Several questions come to mind. Precisely what did the FBI know about Russia’s spy service targeting Hillary Clinton and her inner circle? Why did Clinton deny through spokespersons that she had been a Russian target? Why did she work so feverishly to get the spies out of the United States and back to Russia? Why has the FBI leadership not been more vocal in touting one of its greatest counterintelligence successes ever? And why did nobody in the FBI leadership raise this issue during the 2016 Russian election meddling controversy?

Why Obama’s Iran deal is a path to war

The Obama administration and its supporters insist that, although the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program now taking shape may not be perfect, the only alternative is war with Iran. A failure of the nuclear talks, they also contend, would sacrifice important temporary agreements that now restrict Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Both arguments are false. Worse, the nuclear deal that the administration is pursuing may make war with Iran more likely.

The world would be safer if the nuclear talks with Iran were stopped now.

The agreement being negotiated reportedly would last only 10 years and would leave Iran able to build multiple nuclear bombs in about three months. Administration leaks describe a deal that lets Iran keep on enriching uranium with as many as 6,500 centrifuges and continuing to work on the Arak heavy-water reactor that will be a source of plutonium.

Such an agreement would destabilize the Middle East — launching a regional nuclear-arms race as Iran’s Muslim rivals seek to match its capabilities, and perhaps prompting an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Nor have the talks significantly reduced Iran’s nuclear program. Despite President Obama’s claims to the contrary, Iran has enriched uranium at the same rate since the nuclear talks began early last year and increased its stockpile of enriched uranium.

It would take Iran about three months to produce fuel for its first nuclear weapon by refining its low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade material. At the end of 2013, it had on hand enough low-grade uranium for at least seven bombs; by the end of 2014, enough for at least eight.

In answer to criticism that a potential nuclear deal won’t be strong enough, Obama officials have claimed it will be subject to stringent inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

This argument is hard to take seriously: Iran has never fully cooperated with the IAEA. During the talks, it has specifically refused to cooperate with IAEA inspectors — one of its several violations of the interim agreement that set up the talks.

The alternative to a deeply flawed nuclear deal is not war, it is continued stalemate — more of the slow development of the Iranian nuclear program that has persisted despite 13 months of nuclear talks.

Stopping the talks might actually lower regional tensions by easing the fears of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other states that a weak, short-lived nuclear agreement is coming soon — one that will end sanctions on Tehran and all restrictions on its future nuclear activities.

Congress should not be fooled by the Obama team’s false claim that it’s either their way on the Iranian nuclear program or war with Iran.

The truth is that the flawed agreement being negotiated will make a war more likely and kicks hard-to-solve elements of Iran’s nuclear program down the road for a future president to deal with.

Far better to halt the nuclear talks and return to the pre-2012 Western approach that required Iran to end uranium enrichment, disable its centrifuges, send its enriched-uranium stockpile out of the country and disassemble the Arak reactor.

Charles Krauthammer had it right last week on Fox News: The Iranian nuclear talks are “simply catastrophic.” The real catastrophe will be if this foolish agreement sparks a regional war in the Middle East.

Iran in Africa: A Tutorial Overview

Iran’s activity in Africa is a model of their strategic conduct that allows them an asymmetric advantage over the United States in terms of diplomacy and statecraft. This pattern of behavior is adaptable and observable in Latin America as well as in Africa. Where there are weak governing institutions and fertile soil for anti-American sentiment of any form, the Iranian regime will seek global allies, revenue streams, resources, and capabilities that serve them well on the world stage.

This is an introductory overview meant to give a broad picture of behavior and intention. The open source record of Iranian, Hezbollah, and Quds Force activity in Africa is extensive.

Click here to download pdf of complete overview.

 

Extended Prezi

Niger: An Emerging Security Partnership

The Pentagon last week confirmed that the United States and Niger have agreed to open a second Unmanned Aerial Vehicle base in the African country.  After months of deliberation this second base will be located near the desert city of Agadez in the middle of Niger.

Strategically, the two bases allow the United States to monitor Islamic extremist movement in Libya, Mali, Nigeria, and Algeria, where groups like Ansar al-Shariah, AQIM, and Boko Haram, can be found.  Despite its vast size, Niger’s population is concentrated in one small corner to the southwest and the north of the country is a desert.  Islamic militants used the  large ungoverned territory in the north as safe havens and a base of operations until French soldiers and American UAVs became present in the region.
The importance of these base agreements could lead to long term economic and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Niger under the US president’s new Security Governance Initiative which builds off the successful approach of President George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Corporation in a security focused framework.  There are two compelling interests for the US military presence in Niger:
  • ·       Uranium: A military presence such as a drone base constitutes a robust intelligence capability and Niger is the world’s 4th major producer of Uranium. This element can be used for both energy and military purposes, especially for building nuclear weapons. It is also used for other military purposes such as armor plating. That said; it is doubtful that we want Iran, China, or Russia obtaining the rights to extract this important element. Last year, during ex-Iran president Ahmadinejad’s visit to Niger, President Mahamadou Issoufou hinted at the possibility of allowing Iran into Niger’s Uranium market. There is also the danger the element could also be obtained by the Islamic militants. The Niger government has been open to the presence of American UAVs ever since Islamic militants attacked the Uranium facilities in Arlit.
  • ·       Terrorism: Niger’s location puts it at a high risk for terrorist presence. Given that many of Niger’s citizens are poor and uneducated, as well as 80% Muslim, the risk that some may join the likes of Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb, Boko Haram or ISIS is unfortunately very high. With few other options, young men are vulnerable to recruitment by such groups, posing a long-term security risk to Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa.
In light of recent events in the region, Niger itself is taking the security threat seriously. It has — along with Nigeria, Cameroon, Libya, Chad, and the Central African Republic – agreed to create a joint-military task force to monitor the Lake Chad region for militants and arms traders. This action shows initiative by these countries to combat the threat of extremist groups in Africa. As one of the six nations chosen to build upon existing security partnerships through the new Security Governance Initiative, Niger is emerging to be a crucial ally well before the SGI’s implementation takes effect in Africa.