A massive U.S. drone base could destabilize Niger and may even be illegal under its constitution. U.S. Special Operations forces have been in Niger since 2013, or earlier, and are stationed around the country on bases with elite Nigerien soldiers.
As Penney explains in his reporting for The Intercept, the U.S. is just one of several Western militaries that have established and strengthened military ties to Niger over the past few years. France has had soldiers in the country since 2013, when it launched Opération Serval in neighboring Mali. Germany sent its own troops into Niger to support the United Nations peacekeeping mission across the border in Mali, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Niger in 2017. Italy recently announced it would send 470 troops to a French base in the north of Niger to fight migrant transporters.