Efforts to restore democracy in Niger have been deemed unsuccessful by the United States, which has officially designated the July takeover by a new military government as a coup d’état. This decision limits the ability of the US to cooperate with the West African country. According to the New York Times, President Joe Biden’s administration hesitated to take this step for months due to the policy implications.
As a result, the US State Department announced on Tuesday that it would be suspending most assistance to the government of Niger. This decision comes after Washington had already paused approximately $200 million worth of aid to the country in August. In addition to the suspension of aid programs, the Niger Regional Transportation Compact project, valued at $302 million, and other activities will also be halted. Trade and agricultural assistance totaling around $442 million will be stopped as well.
However, the State Department clarified that life-saving humanitarian, food, and health assistance for the people of Niger would continue. The US intends to work with regional governments in West Africa, including Niger, to advance shared interests.
The military government, known as the National Council for Safeguarding the Homeland, took power in Niger on July 26, ousting President Mohamed Bazoum. The new government wasted no time in suspending military cooperation agreements with France and expelling the French ambassador. Paris has already begun withdrawing its troops from Niger.
Despite the designation of a coup d’état, the US Embassy in Niamey continues to operate, and the Pentagon is reportedly assessing the status of the approximately 1,000 US troops stationed in Niger. While a complete withdrawal of US troops from Niger is unlikely, their operations may be limited to intelligence gathering, according to CNN.
Niger is geopolitically significant for the US, as it hosts several military bases, including at least two drone bases used for counterterrorism missions in the Sahel region. American troops have closely collaborated with French forces in this area.
The suspension of US assistance to Niger can only be lifted once the military government restores what the US considers democratic governance within a credible timeframe.
In conclusion, the United States has officially labeled the July takeover by a military government in Niger as a coup d’état. This designation has led to the suspension of most US assistance to the country, including aid programs and trade and agricultural assistance. However, life-saving humanitarian, food, and health assistance will continue. The US Embassy in Niamey remains operational, and the Pentagon is evaluating the status of US troops stationed in Niger. Despite the suspension of aid, the US still intends to work with regional governments in West Africa to advance shared interests.