Coup: US Weighs Options after France Announces Pullout

The United States has said it will evaluate its next steps on the crisis in Niger after France announced a full troop withdrawal as demanded by the nation’s military coup leaders.

France fields 1,500 soldiers in Niger as part of an anti-jihadist deployment in the Sahel region, and the United States’ 1,100 military personnel.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, on Sunday, announced that France would withdraw its ambassador from Niger shortly, with French troops leaving by year’s end.

The decision came two months after the July 26 coup ousted pro-Paris President Mohamed Bazoum.

Macron added that military cooperation was “over” and French troops would withdraw in “the months and weeks to come” with a full pullout “by the end of the year”.

But on Monday, US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, told reporters in Nairobi that, “While we give diplomacy a chance, we will also continue to evaluate any future steps that would prioritise both our diplomatic and security goals.”

He stressed Washington had “not made any significant change to our force postures and… we really want to see a diplomatic solution, a peaceful end to the crisis.”

The US said on September 18 that it was resuming surveillance flights over Niger which had been halted by the coup, with other operations on hold.

Tens of thousands had taken to the streets of Niamey in support of the coup leaders and the demand for the French ambassador and the troops to leave, but Niamey remained calm on Monday after Macron’s announcement.