The United States has not yet declared the situation in Niger a coup, which would require cutting off all military aid.
The commander of the US Air Forces in Europe and Africa told reporters Wednesday that the United States is considering moving its drone base to Niger after the July 26 coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.
“There are many places I would say that we are looking at, but nothing is confirmed. We are talking to some countries about this,” said Gen. James Hecker, according to Defense One.
The main US drone base in Niger, known as Air Base 201, cost $110 million to build and $20 million to $30 million to maintain each year. According to Nick Turse of The Intercept, which focuses on US military operations in Africa, Air Base 201 is “the hub of the archipelago of US military bases in North and West Africa and a key part of the broader intelligence , surveillance, and security in the United States.”
Hecker said the Air Force is waiting to see how the government’s diplomacy plays out after the coup. He said “the diplomatic solution is very good at the moment.”
There are signs that the United States is willing to cooperate with the post-coup government, led by General Abdourahamane Tchiani. The Biden administration has not formally identified the situation in Niger as a coup, which would require the United States to suspend all military aid.
CNN reported last month that the United States is considering issuing a waiver if it declares a coup to continue US military operations in the country, where about 1,100 US troops are stationed.
US military flights were initially suspended after the coup, but Hecker said most operations are now underway. The Pentagon insisted on Thursday that the United States was only conducting surveillance flights, not counter-terrorism operations.