“Pentagon: US Troops, Equipment to Exit Niger by Mid-September”

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TL/DR –

US troops ordered to leave Niger by the country’s ruling junta will complete withdrawal by mid-September, according to Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials. The withdrawal marks a significant blow to US military operations in the Sahel region, where groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate. The move follows the ousting of the country’s democratically elected president last year, after which the ruling junta asked French forces to leave and sought security assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner.


US Troops to Withdraw from Niger by Mid-September

US troops stationed in Niger, ordered out by the country’s ruling junta, are set to complete their withdrawal by mid-September, according to the Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials. After four days of talks in Niger’s capital city, Niamey, the timeline for withdrawal was agreed upon (source).

Niger’s decision to evict American forces has significantly impacted US military operations in the Sahel, a region notorious for being host to groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. US troops and military gear have already begun leaving the country, with all deadly, hazardous, and classified equipment planned for removal before the final US troops depart.

However, the US will leave behind infrastructures it built over the years, which were used to support the approximately 1,000 troops based there for counterterrorism missions. Fewer than 1,000 US troops are currently in Niger, mainly based in an airbase near Agadez, a city located far from the capital.

Despite the withdrawal, Niger has been an “anchor” in the US’s counterterrorism efforts over the past decade, and the US is exploring possibilities to fill this gap. The officials expressed hopes of continued cooperation with the Nigerien military on counterterrorism efforts in the future, even in the absence of US ground troops.

This shift in military cooperation comes after last July’s ouster of Niger’s democratically elected president by mutinous soldiers. Subsequently, the ruling junta requested French forces to leave and sought security assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

US officials have indicated no signs that the Wagner group may usurp influence over the Nigerien military in the wake of US personnel’s absence. However, the US officially labelled the military takeover as a coup last October, causing US laws to limit the military support and aid it can provide to Niger.

Until recently, Niger was seen as a vital partner and ally for the US amid a region plagued by recent coups. The US has invested heavily in the Agadez base, critical to its counterterrorism operations in the Sahel, and in training Niger’s military since 2013.

While most of the approximately 100 forces deployed in neighboring Chad will also be relocated, talks regarding revisions to the agreement permitting US troop bases in Chad are expected to resume next month.

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