US to ‘evaluate’ next steps after French withdrawal from Niger

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declared on Monday that Washington would “evaluate” its forthcoming actions regarding the situation in Niger following France’s announcement of the withdrawal of its ambassador and troops from the nation, which has been affected by a coup.

“While we give diplomacy a chance, we will also continue to evaluate any future steps that would prioritise both our diplomatic and security goals,” Austin told reporters in Nairobi during a visit to Kenya.

He emphasised that Washington had not made any substantial modifications to its military deployments and repeated US’ desire for a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the crisis.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed that France would recall its ambassador from Niger, and subsequently, French troops would be withdrawn, two months after a coup in the West African nation removed President Mohamed Bazoum, who had close ties with Paris.

“France has decided to withdraw its ambassador. In the next hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France,” Macron told French television in an interview.

Macron also announced that military cooperation was “over,” and the withdrawal of French troops would take place “in the months and weeks ahead,” with a complete withdrawal expected “by the end of the year.”

France has maintained a presence of approximately 1,500 soldiers in Niger as part of its anti-jihadist mission in the Sahel region, while the United States has approximately 1,100 military personnel stationed in the country.

Niger’s military rulers promptly issued a response to Macron’s announcement, delivering it via a statement broadcast on national television.

“This Sunday, we celebrate a new step towards the sovereignty of Niger,” said the statement from the military rulers, who described it as “a historic moment”.

The coup that occurred on July 26, leading to the removal of President Bazoum, marked the third coup in the region within three years. This followed similar events in Mali and Burkina Faso in 2021 and 2022, which also resulted in the withdrawal of French troops.

However, the coup in Niger is particularly challenging for Macron, given his efforts to establish a special partnership with Niamey and position it as a focal point for France’s regional presence, especially in the aftermath of the coup in Mali.

Scroll to Top