• May 19, 2024

Biden May Leave Troops in Niger, Risking Another Benghazi

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Will the Biden administration risk the lives of U.S. troops to avoid embarrassment?

A top Defense Department official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there has been no final decision on whether the U.S. will leave Niger and Chad—two African countries that have made it clear that the American military is not welcome there.

Niger’s ruling junta ended an agreement last month that allows U.S. troops to operate in the West African country. The government of neighboring Chad in recent days also has moved to expel the U.S.

Niger apparently wants the U.S. out of its country so badly that it has stopped processing visas for them. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., whose office investigated Army whistleblower complaints about the situation in Niger, revealed last week that troops there are also experiencing water and medicine shortages.

Gaetz accused Secretary of State Antony Blinken of covering up how bad the situation is in Niger because he called the country a “model democracy” last year—months before a coup took place.

Gaetz said he fears this coverup will lead to another Benghazi—the 2012 terrorist attack against two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, which came after the Obama administration spearheaded a coup there.

“U.S. embassy Niger has been blocking the intelligence. I fear that as we speak, the conditions are forming for another Benghazi-style attack,” he said on the House floor this week.

Despite Gaetz’s seemingly valid concerns, the U.S. is now waffling on whether it will respect Niger’s sovereignty.

“There’s still negotiations underway,” Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady, the nation’s second-highest-ranking military officer, said in an interview. “I don’t believe there is a final decision on disposition of U.S. forces there.”

Relations have frayed between Niger and Western countries since mutinous soldiers ousted the country’s democratically elected president in July. Niger’s junta has since told French forces to leave and turned instead to Russia for security. Earlier this month, Russian military trainers arrived to reinforce the country’s air defenses and with Russian equipment to train Nigeriens to use.

The government of Chad also recently requested that U.S. forces leave, and officials from the State Department, U.S. Africa Command and the Pentagon will work with Chad’s government to make the case for U.S. forces to stay, Grady said.

“The team has got get on the ground there and work it through,” Grady said.

He said that if both countries ultimately decide the U.S. cannot remain there, the military will have to look for alternatives to run counterterrorism missions across the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara Desert.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

Source

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