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U.S. Troops to Withdraw from Niger by Mid-September Following Junta’s Order

US troops to leave Niger

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Niger, ordered by the West African country’s ruling junta, is set to be completed by mid-September, according to statements from the Pentagon and Nigerien defense officials. This decision follows four days of talks between the defense officials of both countries in Niger’s capital, Niamey.

The expulsion of American forces represents a serious setback for U.S. military operations in the Sahel, a region south of the Sahara desert where extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State are active. As part of the withdrawal plan, U.S. troops and equipment have already started leaving Niger.

US troops to leave Niger

Senior military and defense officials stated that all lethal, hazardous, or classified materials would be removed before the final departure of U.S. troops. However, equipment deemed too costly to transport may be left behind for the Nigerien military to utilize.

In addition to equipment, the U.S. will also leave behind the infrastructure built to support approximately 1,000 troops stationed in Niger for counterterrorism missions. Currently, fewer than 1,000 U.S. troops remain, primarily based at an airbase near Agadez, about 920 kilometers (550 miles) from Niamey.

Niger has been a crucial partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts over the past decade, but the recent political upheaval has complicated this relationship.

In July, mutinous soldiers ousted Niger’s democratically elected president, leading to a suspension of military cooperation. The junta later expelled French forces and sought security assistance from the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

Despite the withdrawal, U.S. officials hope to continue collaborating with the Nigerien military on counterterrorism initiatives in the future, even without a direct U.S. military presence.

The official designation of the military takeover as a coup by Washington in October triggered legal restrictions on the military support and aid that the U.S. can provide to Niger.

Niger had been viewed as a key U.S. ally in a region plagued by coups, with huge investments made in the Agadez base and military training since 2013.

The Pentagon has announced plans to relocate most of the approximately 100 U.S. forces currently in neighboring Chad, with future discussions anticipated to revise the agreement allowing U.S. troop presence there.

As the U.S. completes its withdrawal, the long-term impact on counterterrorism efforts in the region and the potential increase in influence of groups like Wagner in Niger remain areas of concern for U.S. officials.

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