Here comes summer! The Americans are packing, the French are sulking, and the Germans are putting their towels down before more arrivistes from Russia show up.  Of course, we’re talking about Niger.

This week, the German defence ministry announced that the government of Niger had kindly allowed it to stay on at its military air transport hub in the capital, Niamey. The Germans were supposed to leave by this weekend. Instead, the 90 or so troops will hang about doing … no-one’s really sure what. The base did play a vital role in supporting German troops in Mali who were part of the UN peacekeeping mission there. But that’s gone – effectively kicked out by the military junta.

The French have gone, from both Mali and Niger, and their entire strategy for the Sahel region may have gone with it. Even the supply of Nigerian yellow cake, used for uranium enrichment in French nuclear power plants, is no longer certain. Instead, Niger is negotiating with Tehran to supply the Iranian nuclear “project” with hundreds of tons of concentrated uranium powder.