The top leader of the coup effort, former head of Niger’s presidential guard Abdourahamane Tchiani, is resolved to stay in power after detaining Niger President Mohamed Bazoum in late July.
Flights in and out of Niger are closed as the crisis deepens and ECOWAS leaders plan for economic sanctions, military intervention or another course of action.
The U.S. has long relied on Niger to counter terrorist groups in the West African region, so the conflict is growing worrisome for Washington, which has 1,100 troops in the country.
Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said U.S. troop activity has paused as they hope for a “peaceful” resolution.
“The United States does not want to abandon Nigeriens that we’ve partnered with,” Singh said at a Tuesday press conference.
Acting Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland traveled to the capital of Niamey on Monday to meet with military junta leaders but left with little to show for it.
“They are quite firm in their view on how they want to proceed, and it does not comport with the constitution of Niger,” Nuland told reporters.
All eyes are now on how ECOWAS will respond to Niger after the military junta failed to release the president on Sunday.
The 15-nation member ECOWAS has intervened militarily in the past — but the results are mixed.
In 2017, ECOWAS troops restored order after a disputed presidential election with little resistance.
But in 1990, ECOWAS soldiers were accused of human rights abuses after intervening in Liberia’s civil war.