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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

US weighing choices in Africa after Niger junta orders departure from key counterterrorism base

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WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is working with Niger officers, searching for a means 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 fulfill with members of the navy junta.

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

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

White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated 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.”

On Saturday, following the assembly, the junta’s spokesperson, Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane, stated U.S. flights over Niger’s territory in latest 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 not keep on Nigerien soil any longer,” he advised The Related Press.

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

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

“We’re in contact with transition authorities to hunt clarification of their feedback and focus on extra subsequent steps,” Patel stated.

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 stated the full variety of personnel nonetheless in nation, together with civilians and contractors, is roughly 1,000.

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

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


Christopher Megerian contributed from Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2024 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.


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