The United States is rushing to abandon its fifth overseas outpost since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
The Department of State has issued a warning of unrest in Niger and ordered for the temporary evacuation of non-emergency U.S. personnel and family members from the U.S. Embassy in the country’s capital, Niamey.
“The Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas, including U.S. government personnel serving abroad,” the Department released Wednesday night.
The evacuation follows earlier orders to abandon embassies in Kabul, Kyiv, and other overseas locations.
In August 2021, amid warnings that the Taliban was marching on the capital of neighboring Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was ordered to burn documents and evacuate. The Kyiv embassy was emptied four months later as intelligence officials warned of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The latest evacuation could be another sign of increased unrest in Africa. Last month, an armed insurgency targeted the U.S. Embassy in Somalia, prompting a shutdown. Though the incident was later subdued, tensions remain high.
The Biden Administration has come under fire for its lack of diplomatic cohesion with U.S. embassies and overseas personnel.
“The Biden Administration is sending the wrong message by shutting down embassies,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). “The U.S. has a responsibility to stand firm in the face of danger and extend a hand of friendship to troubled nations. And that’s not something you do by running away.”
At the same time, Biden has faced criticism from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for not doing enough to protect U.S. embassies and overseas personnel.
“We simply can’t keep evacuating embassies in times of distress,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). “This isn’t a sign of strength—it’s precisely the kind of weakness terrorists target.”
It remains to be seen how the administration plans to chart a safe course through the world’s most volatile regions. Until then, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey appears to be the latest casualty of a complicated, unpredictable world.
The US Embassy in Kabul has now been abandoned after the State Department confirmed the “safe evacuation of all embassy personnel” and that US personnel in Afghanistan are at Kabul airport.@Stone_SkyNews has the latest.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 16, 2021