US Claims It Hasn’t Received Formal Request to Leave Niger

The ruling government has said the US presence is no longer legal

A Pentagon official on Thursday insisted that the military-led government in Niger, known as the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP), has not formally asked US troops to leave the country despite declaring the US presence is no longer legally justified.

Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing that the CNSP told the US that the agreement that allows the US to operate in the country is now null and void.

However, she also claimed that the CNSP “assured us that American military forces are protected and they will take no action that will endanger them.” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday that the US was seeking “clarification” from Niger and is looking to stay.

The CNSP, which took power in July 2023 after ousting former President Mohamed Bazoum in a coup, announced on Saturday that it was severing military relations with the US and that the presence of US troops was no longer justified.

The CNSP said it was taking the step because the US did not respect Niger’s sovereignty, as the announcement came after a US delegation visited the country and warned the junta over its relations with Russia and Iran.

“Niger regrets the intention of the American delegation to deny the sovereign Nigerien people the right to choose their partners and types of partnerships truly capable of helping them fight against terrorism,” CNSP spokesman Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane said. “The government of Niger forcefully denounces the condescending attitude accompanied by the threat of retaliation from the head of the American delegation.”

The US has about 650 troops and a few hundred civilian contractors in Niger. They are mostly stationed at a major drone base near the town of Agadez that cost over $100 million to build, known as Airbase 201, which serves as a hub for US operations across the region. The US has long supported Niger’s military, and according to Intercept reporter Nick Turse, at least five leaders of the coup received training from the US.

The US formally declared the ouster of Bazoum a coup, which requires the suspension of aid, but was looking for ways to cooperate with the junta to maintain its military presence. However, there are signs the US was preparing for the possibility of getting kicked out. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that the US was in talks with other West African states to base drones on their territory, including Benin, the Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.