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America's Options in Niger - Join Forces to Reduce Tensions, Or Fan the Flames

Numerous reports have appeared recently about beefing up US military presence in Niger, and potentially allowing American forces to more actively target suspected jihadist leaders in the region. This follows the deaths of US and Nigerien soldiers in Niger on October 4.

Most US and Nigerien officials have made it clear they believe that the attack was committed by the self proclaimed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) under Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, or fighters under his sway.

But the links between militant groups in the region – whether identified as "jihadist" or not – are often fluid and belie easy categorisation. This label obscures a situation which deserves much more consideration before pulling the trigger. And it takes attention away from the experiences of local populations who are often stuck between militant groups and sometimes hostile governments and foreign armies.

The area in which the American soldiers die