French forces have begun to withdraw from their bases in Niger, with the first convoy of troops escorted out of the country by Niger’s military as it traveled in the direction of Chad. The withdrawal was demanded by Niger’s new ruling generals after they took power on July 26, with French President Emmanuel Macron confirming their departure at the end of September. French troops were stationed in Niamey, with another 400 at two forward bases near Mali and Burkina Faso, a hotbed of rebel activity.
The US has officially declared that Niger’s democratically-elected president was removed in a military coup, which results in officially suspending assistance to Niger. The decision was made after it became clear the military government did not want to abide by constitutional guidelines to restore civilian and democratic rule. The US Department of Defense spokesperson Matthew Miller said that some $200m in foreign assistance temporarily paused to Niger in August had now been officially suspended. The US will need to take swift and credible action to resume its assistance in promoting democratic governance.
Despite the coup designation and aid suspension, the US has no plans to change its troop presence in the country. US troops have trained Nigerien forces in counterterrorism, operating two bases, and employing 1,000 personnel in Niger, including a drone mission against ISIS and al-Qaeda.