The United States Secretary of Defense stated on Monday that Washington will carefully evaluate its military presence in Niger after France’s decision to withdraw its troops from the country by the end of this year. During a press conference in Nairobi, Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized the importance of considering diplomatic and security objectives in determining future steps. President Emmanuel Macron had announced the recall of the French ambassador in Niamey and the withdrawal of the 1,500 French troops stationed in Niger.
With approximately 1,100 troops deployed in Niger to combat jihadist groups in the region, the United States expressed its commitment to seeking a diplomatic and peaceful resolution while refraining from commenting directly on France’s move. Earlier in September, the Pentagon had announced precautionary troop repositioning, transferring soldiers from the capital Niamey to a northern air base. Surveillance flights over Niger were also resumed on September 14, following their interruption after the military coup in late July. However, other ongoing military operations in Niger remained suspended.
France’s decision to withdraw its troops from Niger mirrors similar actions taken in Mali and Burkina Faso, where French forces were compelled to leave due to hostile juntas. Niger had been among Paris’s key allies in the Sahel region until the coup on July 26 resulted in the ousting of elected President Mohamed Bazoum.