The United States has finally acted on the crisis in Niger by ordering a partial evacuation of its embassy in Niger.
Following a military coup in the West African country, the US State Department said that the department has ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees and eligible family members from the Embassy in Niger’s capital city Niamey, according to Saudi news website Al Arabiya, August 3.
The US ordered this departure on August 2, a week after the coup.
Niger is a key Western ally in a battle against extremist insurgents. Foreign powers have condemned the violent takeover, fearing it could allow the militants to gain ground.
On August 2, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller did not confirm that staff would be evacuated, but said Washington was monitoring events in the country and stressed that the safety of US citizens and government personnel was the number one priority.
“The US embassy in Niamey is open and we intend for it to remain open,” the spokesperson told a press briefing. He added,“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.”
France, the United States, Germany and Italy have troops in Niger on counterinsurgency and training missions, helping the Nigerien army to fight groups linked to terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.
France and Italy evacuated European citizens from the former French colony in a prompter fashion than Washington did.
There are about 1,100 US troops in Niger, where the US military operates from two bases.
US’ National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, has been made aware that Russia “may want to take credit” for the coup but dismissed the claims that the Russians were behind the chaotic scenes in the African country last month.
American citizens faced struggles leaving the country amid the violence and some have encountered robbery and looting. At the time, the Biden administration noted that US military aircraft were not obliged to evacuate citizens as there was enough space on aircraft from other countries flying in and out of Niger.
There has been no announcement regarding US troops being withdrawn yet.