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26 Apr, 2024 12:44

US to withdraw troops from African states

The Pentagon says complete pullout will take place in Niger, while forces in Chad will be temporarily repositioned
US to withdraw troops from African states

Washington will fully withdraw its troops from Niger and is also relocating military personnel stationed in Chad, as it considers other options for continuing America’s counterterrorism mission in the Sahel region, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

The move comes in response to demands from the military governments of both African nations that US forces discontinue operations there. Last month, Niger’s new leadership terminated a security agreement with the US, declaring as unwelcome the presence of 1,000 American troops stationed in the West African country.

Chad, which shares a border with Niger, has also reportedly questioned whether an existing agreement covered US troops deployed at the only American air base in the Central African nation.

Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday that Washington will “reposition” the approximately 100-strong contingent stationed in Chad.

“This is a temporary step as part of the ongoing review of our security cooperation, which will resume after Chad’s May 6th presidential election,” Ryder said.

He said State Department officials were scheduled to meet with Nigerien authorities on Thursday to discuss “an orderly and safe withdrawal of US forces from Niger.”

Follow-up meetings have been planned for next week to “coordinate the withdrawal process in a transparent manner and with mutual respect,” Ryder added.

Since seizing power in a coup last July, Niger’s new government has been reviewing military agreements with partners engaged by the deposed civilian leaders, including France and the US, which have conducted anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel since 2013. These missions have been deemed ineffective across the region, and France – Niger’s former colonial ruler – was ordered to remove its troops by the end of last year.

The landlocked country has turned to Moscow for its security needs, with its transitional leader, Abdourahamane Tchiani, discussing anti-terrorism cooperation in the Sahel region with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. Local media reported weeks later that Russian military instructors had landed in Niamey with a planeload of equipment to assist the Nigerien army with counterterrorism training, despite the US expressing concerns over Niger’s deepening relations with Russia.

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