A partial evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Niger will not apply to the 1,100 U.S. military troops in Niger, the Pentagon said Thursday morning.
“There are no changes to the U.S. military force posture in Niger during the Department of State-led ordered departure,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday, August 3. “The Department of State has not requested [military] personnel or equipment as part of the ordered departure.”
The Pentagon statement came hours after the State Department ordered “non-emergency personnel” with the U.S. embassy in Niger and their families to leave the country. That evacuation was announced by State Department spokesman Matthew Miller in a statement on Wednesday.
“The U.S. Embassy remains open for limited, emergency services to U.S. citizens,” Miller said. “The State Department continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation.”
Americans are advised to limit unnecessary movements around Niger’s capital city of Naimey, Miller said. U.S. citizens who need assistance or want to leave Niger should register with the State Department’s assistance request for, which is available on the embassy’s website.
“Routine consular services are suspended,” Miller said. “The Embassy is only able to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Niger.”
Miller also said that commercial flight options out of Niger are “limited.” The State Department is expected to use chartered commercial planes instead of U.S. military aircraft to transport embassy personnel and their families out of Niger, according to Reuters.
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Niger’s armed forces ousted the country’s democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum in a July 26 coup.
The security situation in Niger has deteriorated since then. After a mob attacked the French embassy in Niamey on July 30, France, Italy, and Spain announced they would evacuate their citizens from the country.
Politico first reported on Wednesday that the U.S. government was preparing to evacuate its embassy in Niger, but Miller initially told reporters that he could not confirm that such preparations were underway.
“I’m not in any position to make announcements at this point,” Miller said during Wednesday afternoon’s State Department news briefing. “I’ll say that the U.S. embassy in Niamey is open. We intend for it to remain open. We remain committed to the people of Niger and our relationship with the people of Niger, and we remain diplomatically engaged at the highest levels. That’s something that will continue.”
So far, the State Department is not calling the situation in Niger a “coup,” which is a legal term that would trigger the end of U.S. economic and military assistance to the country.
“We are calling it ‘an attempt to take power,’ which may still be reversed, and the work that we are pursuing every day is to ensure that it can be reversed,” Miller said.
Niger had been a vital partner for U.S. military counterterrorism operations in Africa. The country hosts a $110 million installation from where the U.S. military has been conducting drone operations since November 2019. Those operations have halted because Niger’s military junta have closed their country’s airspace.
“No indication right now of any type of imminent threat against U.S. forces in Niger,” Ryder said at a Pentagon news briefing. “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.”
UPDATE: 08/03/2023; this story was updated with a statement from Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
UPDATE: 08/02/2023; this story was updated with a statement from State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
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