US repositioning forces in Niger in ‘precautionary’ move
The U.S. military is moving some of its forces from a base near Niger’s capital Niamey to another in the Agadez area following a July coup in the city, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
The United States “is repositioning some of our personnel and some of our assets from Air Base 101 in Niamey to Air Base 201 in Agadez,” Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary for the Pentagon, told reporters.
“There is no perceived threat to … U.S. troops and no threat of violence on the ground,” Singh said. “This is simply a precautionary measure.”
She added that the U.S. force posture has not changed in the country and that a small presence remains at Air Base 101 following the move, which is ongoing.
She also said “some nonessential personnel and contractors” have left the country.
Niger has been a key Washington ally and hosts 1,100 U.S. troops largely deployed for counterterrorism efforts and training the country’s forces.
But after a military coup in late July — when junta leader Abdourahamane Tchiani toppled Niger President Mohamed Bazoum — the Defense Department paused military activity and training in Niger. Washington has said it’s pushing for a “peaceful resolution” to the conflict, stressing that there is no planned withdrawal from the country.
“The United States does not want to abandon Nigerians that we’ve partnered with,” Singh said in August.
The U.S. has so far refused to call the events a “coup,” and has expressed hope that Western diplomats can resolve the crisis peacefully.
France also has troops on the ground in Niger, but French media earlier this week reported that Paris is in talks with Niger’s military about a possible withdrawal of those forces.
Asked about the development, Singh said there is “no tie” between the U.S. troop movement and “what the French military is doing right now.”