US Orders Troops to Leave Niger

The move comes after Niger’s military government revoked security deals with both Washington and Paris.

May 10, 2024 ori

The Pentagon has ordered more than 1,000 US soldiers to leave Niger and deploy to other countries in the region, POLITICO reported. Talks with local officials are ongoing, however, and the Joe Biden administration hopes to reverse the drawdown before a final timeline is set.

The withdrawal is planned over “the next several months” and will see US forces stationed elsewhere in Africa, an unnamed official told the outlet. However, they stressed that the exact timetable could still change, or even be “reversed,” as negotiations continue both in Congress and with Niamey’s military junta.

The Defense Department first announced plans for a drawdown late last month, saying officials were holding “discussions on an orderly and responsible withdrawal of US forces.” That followed a decision by Niger to rescind a prior military deal with the US in March, suspending security cooperation with the Pentagon.

Niger has been ruled by military authorities since last July, when President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted by forces loyal to Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, previously the head of the presidential guard. Known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), the post-coup state also quickly moved to expel some 1,500 French troops, who completed their withdrawal in December.

Highlighting US efforts to remain in the country, a State Department spokesman told POLITICO they did not want to “get ahead of the discussions” when asked for details about the withdrawal, adding that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and other senior officials were still holding “frank discussions” with the CNSP government.

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As recently as April 24, a top US military official told the Associated Press that no final decision had been made for the drawdown, even as the State Department said the two countries had failed to “reach an understanding” on the issue.

The Pentagon maintains a number of military installations in Niger, including a major drone base near Agadez, dubbed Base 201, as well as another airfield in the capital of Niamey. For several weeks now, American troops have shared the latter base with Russian soldiers, up to 100 of whom have deployed to the country with official approval by the CNSP.

Last month, a whistleblower told Congress that Washington’s refusal to leave was putting US troops at risk, also claiming officials had “intentionally suppressed intelligence” to maintain the “facade of a great country-to-country relationship.” The whistleblower, a senior Air Force officer, went on to slam the Biden administration for “failed diplomacy” with Niamey, and added that US troops were “essentially being held hostage from returning home to their families.”

* Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. Find more of his work at Consortium News and ZeroHedge.

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