Pentagon appears to maintain troops in Niger as junta orders departure


The Pentagon is working with Niger officers, looking for a manner for U.S. troops to remain within the nation — a key base for counterterrorism operations in sub-Saharan Africa — following a weekend directive that they go away.

Final week a excessive level-delegation of U.S. officers, together with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee, Assistant Secretary of Protection for Worldwide Safety Affairs Celeste Wallander and the pinnacle of U.S. Africa Command Gen. Michael Langley, traveled to Niger to satisfy with members of the navy junta.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh mentioned Monday the U.S. officers had “prolonged and direct” discussions with the junta officers that have been additionally partially spurred by issues over Niger’s potential relationships with Russia and Iran.

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“We have been troubled on the trail that Niger is on,” Singh mentioned.

White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned the U.S. was “carefully monitoring the Russian protection actions” there so as “to evaluate and mitigate potential danger to U.S. personnel, pursuits and property.”

Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin, proper, speaks throughout a gathering with Latvian Protection Minister Andris Spruds, not pictured, on the Pentagon on Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photograph/Kevin Wolf)

On Saturday, following the assembly, the junta’s spokesperson, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, mentioned U.S. flights over Niger’s territory in current weeks have been unlawful. In the meantime, Insa Garba Saidou, an area activist who assists Niger’s navy rulers with their communications, criticized U.S. efforts to drive the junta to choose between strategic companions.

“The American bases and civilian personnel can’t keep on Nigerien soil any longer,” he advised The Related Press.

Singh mentioned the U.S. was conscious of the March 16 assertion “asserting the tip of the standing of forces settlement between Niger and the USA. We’re working by way of diplomatic channels to hunt clarification. These are ongoing discussions and we do not have extra to share presently.”

State Division spokesman Vedant Patel mentioned the discussions have been prompted by Niger’s “trajectory.”

“We’re in contact with transition authorities to hunt clarification of their feedback and talk about further subsequent steps,” Patel mentioned.

The junta has largely been in management in Niger since July when mutinous troopers ousted the nation’s democratically elected president and months later requested French forces to depart.

The U.S. navy nonetheless had some 650 troops working in Niger in December, largely consolidated at a base farther away from Niamey, Niger’s capital. Singh mentioned the overall variety of personnel nonetheless in nation, together with civilians and contractors, is roughly 1,000.

The Niger base is essential for U.S. counterterrorism operations within the Sahel and has been used for each manned and unmanned surveillance operations, though Singh mentioned the one drone flights being at the moment carried out are for drive safety.

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Within the Sahel the U.S. has additionally supported native floor troops, together with accompanying them on missions. Nonetheless, such accompanied missions have been scaled again since U.S. troops have been killed in a joint operation in Niger in 2017.



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