US Troops Leaving Bases in Niger

The US has until September 15 to complete the withdrawal.

On Sunday, the US military finished pulling troops out of Air Base 101 in Niger’s capital Niamey as the US withdrawal from the country is progressing.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, who is on the ground overseeing the withdrawal, said Friday that less than 500 US troops remain at Air Base 201, a major drone base located in Agadez that cost the US over $100 million to build.

The troops based at Air Base 201 are scheduled to complete their exit in August as the US has a deadline of September 15 to get out of the country. Two-thirds of the US troops and equipment must be out of Niger by July 26.

Ekman said that a small number of US special operations forces, about 10-20 soldiers, have redeployed elsewhere in Africa. But the bulk of the US troops being pulled out of Niger will be sent to Europe.

Air Base 201 served as a major hub for US military operations in the region, so the US tried to stay in Niger after the July 2023 coup that ousted former President Mohamed Bazoum but was forced out after a contentious meeting with the military-led government.

Ekman said the US is looking to establish a similar presence elsewhere in West Africa but didn’t specify where. Reuters reported last week that the US has had initial conversations about the possibility with Benin, Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

The US tried to stay in Niger following the coup, but Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine told The Washington Post that the US was asked to leave due to threats from US officials over Niger’s relationship with Russia and Iran. Zeine pointed to threats made by Molly Phee, the State Department’s top official for African affairs.

“When she finished, I said, ‘Madame, I am going to summarize in two points what you have said,’” Zeine said. “First, you have come here to threaten us in our country. That is unacceptable. And you have come here to tell us with whom we can have relationships, which is also unacceptable. And you have done it all with a condescending tone and a lack of respect.”

Source: AntiWar.

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