Biden Keeps Troops in Niger as Coup Threatens to Spark Regional War

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Tuesday that American troops stay in Niger and haven’t any plan to go away, although they continue to be in “clearly a not-normal situation” following the top of the presidential guard staging an tried coup d’etat towards President Mohamed Bazoum.

A bunch of troopers calling themselves the “National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland” appeared on nationwide tv in Niger final Thursday and declared themselves the rulers of the nation, asserting that they had kidnapped Bazoum and had been preserving him underneath home arrest in the presidential residence. A day later, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, the top of the presidential guard, declared himself president on tv. In his speech, Tchiani appeared to accuse Bazoum of betraying the intentions of allied nations, such as America, towards terror threats.

“The current security approach has not made it possible to secure our country despite the heavy sacrifices made by Nigeriens and the appreciable and appreciated support of our external partners,” Tchiani noticed.

The Council and Tchiani each mentioned in their broadcasts that Bazoum’s failure to deal with the deteriorating safety state of affairs – significantly in the face of rising jihadist threats to the nation – necessitated the ability seize.

Washington has aggressively rejected the seizure of energy, supporting the Nigeria-led Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in asserting a sequence of extreme sanctions towards Niger together with shutting down mutual borders, freezing authorities property, and a possible navy invasion. While the State Department expressed help for the sanctions, it didn’t deal with the specter of “use of force” immediately, leaving open whether or not or not America would help an invasion of the nation to restore Bazoum’s administration.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed in a press launch that he spoke to Bazoum to lengthen America’s help on Tuesday.

Abdourahmane Tchiani and different military commanders held a gathering in the capital, Niamey, Niger on July 28, 2023. Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, the top of Nigerâs presidential guard, declared himself the brand new chief of the nation after a coup. (Balima Boureima/Anadolu Agency through Getty)

Bazoum is considered one of America’s few remaining allies in West Africa after a sequence of coups put in anti-Western navy regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea in the final two years. American troops have been working in Niger for years, aiding in makes an attempt to fight jihadist terrorist organizations working in the higher Sahel area.

Despite the chaos in the nation, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder informed reporters on Tuesday that the administration of leftist President Joe Biden isn’t presently evacuating American troops or civilians from the nation, as it doesn’t imagine that “any type of imminent threat” exists towards them. Ryder mentioned that the Pentagon had “suspended” operations alongside the Nigerien navy – which issued an announcement in help of the coup final week – however remained in contact with navy leaders.

“All indications right now that there’s no, you know, imminent threat against any U.S. personnel or American citizens, but again, we continue to encourage American citizens who are in the country to stay in close contact with our embassy there,” Ryder mentioned throughout his press briefing on Tuesday. “As far as security cooperation, those efforts right now are suspended in light of the situation but certainly we maintain close contact with our Niger military counterparts in the country as the situation continues to unfold.”

Ryder later specified that the form of actions suspended included coaching Nigerien forces, however didn’t elaborate additional. Regarding communication, he famous that senior American leaders are in dialog with the workplace of the Nigerien protection chief. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley spoke to his Nigerien counterpart, Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Issa Abdou Sidikou, in a telephone name instantly after the coup declaration on Thursday.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation there. It continues to remain very fluid. Too soon to characterize the nature of ongoing developments, but as you’ve heard us say publicly, you know, we continue to support the democratically elected President of Niger,” he famous.
Ryder additionally refused to use the phrase “coup” to describe the ability seize in the nation, rejecting “labels” on the “fluid” state of affairs typically.

Asked about operations at U.S. bases in Niger, Ryder mentioned, “I would say that clearly [this is] a not-normal situation. As I mentioned earlier, no indication right now of any type of imminent threat against U.S. forces in Niger.”

“Largely speaking, our forces are doing due diligence when it comes to force protection and remaining on those bases, although when necessary, environment permitting, they are still engaging and going off-base to engage with our Nigerian counterparts as necessary,” he affirmed.

The presence of American forces in Niger tremendously complicates threats by ECOWAS – which Niger formally belongs to – to invade the nation and forcefully uproot Tchiani’s mutineers. The regional financial bloc, led by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, introduced after an emergency assembly on Sunday that it might, amongst different sanctions, shut all air and land borders with Niger, freeze authorities property in its banks, cease providing any lively utility providers, and stop all business exercise with Niger. The assertion asserted that, if Bazoum was not in management of the nation inside per week, ECOWAS nations would “take all measures necessary to restore constitutional order in the Republic of Niger.”

“Such measures may include the use of force,” the assertion learn.

“The United States welcomes and commends the strong leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government to defend constitutional order in Niger,” Blinken said in an announcement following the publication of the assertion.

“The United States will remain actively engaged with ECOWAS and West African leaders on next steps to preserve Niger’s hard-earned democracy,” Blinken promised. The prime diplomat’s assertion didn’t point out the specter of use of drive, a lot much less whether or not America would assist it.

Reports out of the emergency summit this weekend recommend that a number of ECOWAS member states eagerly supported navy intervention to ship a message to stop additional regional coups, such as these in Burkina Faso and Mali. Liberia’s New Republic reported on Wednesday that ECOWAS leaders had ordered their respective navy leaders this week to plan for a navy operation. Yet, according to Radio France Internationale (RFI), the ECOWAS regional drive is poorly organized and has a historical past of failed operations and violence towards civilians.

“Since its creation, this force [the ECOWAS armed force] has been led by Nigeria, which provides it with most of the soldiers, equipment, and funding,” RFI detailed this week. It has carried out few operations, many with poor reputations. In an intervention in Liberia in 1994, for instance, “people accuse soldiers, especially Nigerians, of looting, rape and murder.”

Adding to considerations is a missive revealed by the coup governments of Burkina Faso and Mali committing to navy engagement towards ECOWAS ought to it invade Niger.

“Any military intervention against Niger would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali,” the navy juntas warned on Monday.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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