The Pentagon is repositioning some US personnel and equipment in Niger as well as evacuating a small number of non-essential personnel from the country, a military official said on Thursday.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the US Department of Defense is repositioning some US personnel and equipment in Niger from Air Base 101 in Niamey to Air Base 201 in Agadez. Additionally, a small number of non-essential personnel and equipment will depart Niger,” the military official told Al Arabiya English, APA reports.
It remains unclear how many troops will leave. Pentagon officials say there have been just above 1,000 troops in the country.
The official said the move does not change the US military’s overall force posture in Niger, but the US continues to review all options as it assesses a way forward.
Washington, France and other Western countries have been struggling to find a way forward in Niger following the July 26 coup that ousted Niger’s democratically-elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. Efforts to reverse the military coup by the US were unsuccessful despite senior American officials being dispatched to the country to hold talks with military officials that the Pentagon has long trained in counterterrorism.
France, which has cut cooperation with the Nigerien military and halted its aid to the country, is also weighing redeploying some of its troops after demands and protests in the streets of the African nation.
Nevertheless, the official said the US will continue its diplomatic engagements to preserve constitutional order and civilian governance in Niger.
“The movement of US assets has been coordinated with and approved by the appropriate authorities,” the official told Al Arabiya English, adding that the consolidation represents “prudent military planning” to safeguard US assets while continuing to address the threat of violent extremism in the region.
The official hit out at the military officials behind the attempted coup in Niger without naming anyone in particular. “The leaders of this attempted coup are putting Niger’s security at risk, creating a potential vacuum that terrorist groups or other malign groups may exploit,” the official said.