A supporter of Niger’s National Council of Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP) with a vuvuzela outside an airbase in Niamey on 3 September 2023, as protesters gathered to demand the departure of the French army from Niger. (Photo by AFP)
- The US is moving some troops out of Niger’s capital Niamey in a “consolidation”.
- They will be stationed in the centre of the country instead.
- It is not yet clear whether a withdrawal from Niger could follow, but non-essential personnel are being pulled from the country.
- France is reportedly in talks about the withdrawal of at least some of its troops from Niger.
The Pentagon is repositioning some troops and equipment within Niger and will withdraw a small number of non-essential personnel “out of an abundance of caution,” U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.
That will be the first major American military movement in Niger since the July coup.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to say how many personnel would be departing and how many were repositioning within Niger from Air Base 101 in Niamey, Niger’s capital in the west of the country, to Air Base 201 in Agadez, a city in the sparsely-populated centre of Niger, some 13 hours away from the capital by car.
Before this movement, there were 1,100 American troops in the West African country.
“This consolidation represents prudent military planning to safeguard US assets while continuing to address the threat of violent extremism in the region,” one of the officials said.
“This does not change our overall force posture in Niger, and we continue to review all options as we assess a way forward,” the official added.
Over the past decade, US troops have trained Niger’s forces in counter-terrorism and conducted drone missions against Islamic State and an al Qaeda affiliate in the region.
It was not clear whether the internal troop movements inside Niger could be part of potential preparations in case of a US decision for a full withdrawal of forces.
“The movement of US assets has been coordinated with and approved by the appropriate authorities,” the official said.
French troop withdrawal on the cards
Earlier this week, AFP reported that the French army is holding talks with Niger’s military over withdrawing “elements” of its presence in that country.
There has been speculation that France will be forced into a full military pullout from Niger. Some 1,500 troops are deployed in Niger as part of France’s wider fight against jihadists in the Sahel.
The country became a crucial hub for France after coups forced the withdrawal of French troops from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.
“Discussions on the withdrawal of certain military elements have begun,” a defence ministry source told AFP, asking not to be named. The source did not give details.
Additional reporting by AFP.
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/the-us-is-moving-some-troops-out-of-nigers-capital-in-a-consolidation-as-france-negotiates-20230907
Publish date : 2023-09-07 20:49:23