Alliance of Sahel States: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger establish mutual defense pact

Alliance of Sahel States: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger establish mutual defense pact

The military leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger signed over the weekend a mutual defense pact establishing an Alliance of Sahel States (AES) that will allow them to cooperate against threats of armed rebellion or external aggression.

The AES was established by the Liptako-Gourma Charter, in reference to a region, where the Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger borders meet. According to the Charter, “any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties.” The Charter also binds the three countries to work to prevent or settle armed rebellions. “This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries”, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said. “Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries.”

A jihadist insurgency that erupted in northern Mali in 2012 spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015. All three signatories of the Liptako-Gourma Charter were members of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force with Chad and Mauritania, launched in 2017 to fight armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) groups. All three countries have undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who cooperated with the West in the fight against Sahel-based armed groups.

Burkina Faso and Mali have recently responded to the threat by the West African regional Block ECOWAS to intervene militarily in Niger by warning that any such operation would be deemed a “declaration of war” against them.

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