Joint Chiefs chairman says US looking at other options in West Africa as Niger orders exit

Joint Chiefs chairman says US looking at other options in West Africa as Niger orders exit

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Charles Brown said Tuesday the U.S. is considering other options across West Africa to host American troops and support counter-terrorism operations after Niger ordered Washington to leave the country.

Brown said at a press conference in Germany after a meeting on Ukraine that the U.S. was talking with other West African countries about the potential for cooperation on counter-terrorism efforts, saying those operations have been affected by the Niger government being overthrown in a military coup last year.

“Since the events in July, that has impacted our ability to support our counter-terrorism and as we look to the future, we will continue to look at other nations within the West Africa,” he said.

Over the weekend, the military junta in Niger revoked a military cooperation agreement with the U.S., which gave American forces a major base of operations to fight against extremist terrorist groups in the region.

The military junta ordered the some 1,000 American troops in the country to leave, and the Pentagon this week said it is now working through diplomatic channels to provide clarification on the matter.

The U.S. just sent a delegation last week to Niger to raise a number of concerns about the direction the African country was headed in, according to the Pentagon.

The West African region has suffered a number of coups in recent years, including in Mali and Burkina Faso, that have destabilized the region.

Brown said Tuesday there have been “mixed signals” from Niger since the order for U.S. troops to leave but added they were still assessing all options.

“We always make plans for different contingencies,” he said. “We will continue to make plans and prepare [to] stay or depart.”

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