In a significant development in the Sahel region, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, all currently under military leadership, have officially entered into a security treaty known as the “Alliance of Sahel States.” The primary objective of this pact is to strengthen their collective defense capabilities and mutual assistance in the face of potential rebellions or external aggression.
These three West African nations have been grappling with internal security challenges, particularly stemming from insurgent groups associated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Additionally, their relationships with neighboring countries and international partners have become strained due to recent military coups and power transitions.
The most recent coup in Niger exacerbated tensions within the region, especially concerning their interactions with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc that has threatened to use force to restore constitutional order in Niger.
Mali and Burkina Faso have pledged their support to Niger, vowing to come to its aid in the event of an attack. The security pact explicitly states that “any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties.” This commitment includes the possibility of using armed force if necessary.
Assimi Goita, the leader of the junta in Mali, announced the formation of the Alliance of Sahel States via his social media account, emphasizing its goal of establishing a collective defense and mutual assistance framework.
Notably, all three countries were previously part of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance, which included Chad and Mauritania and was launched in 2017 to combat extremist threats in the region. However, Mali withdrew from the alliance following a military coup, and former Niger President Mohamed Bazoum declared last year that the force was effectively defunct after Mali’s departure.
These security developments have also strained relations between France and the three Sahel nations, reflecting the complex geopolitical dynamics at play in the region.