The military juntas governing the three states reached an agreement on defence in the event of rebellion or external aggression

Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso sign a Sahel security pact

Esta captura de pantalla de vídeo obtenida por AFP de ORTN - Télé Sahel el 28 de julio de 2023 muestra al general Abdourahamane Tchiani, nuevo hombre fuerte de Níger, leyendo una declaración como "presidente del Consejo Nacional de Salvaguarda de la Patria". Tras Mali y Burkina Faso, Níger, hasta ahora aliado de los países occidentales, se ha convertido en el tercer país del Sahel, minado por los ataques de grupos vinculados al Estado Islámico y Al Qaeda, que sufre un golpe de Estado desde 2020.
photo_camera This video screenshot obtained by AFP from ORTN - Télé Sahel on 28 July 2023 shows General Abdourahamane Tchiani, Niger's new strongman, reading a statement as "president of the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Homeland". After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger, hitherto an ally of Western countries, has become the third country in the Sahel, undermined by attacks by groups linked to Islamic State and Al Qaeda, to suffer a coup d'état since 2020

The Sahel region suffers from instability and constant attacks by terrorist organisations and mercenary groups, with the presence of the Wagner Group standing out. In anticipation of possible new coups d'√©tat or new conflicts of a warlike nature, the governments of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have reached a mutual defence agreement. 

The so-called Alliance of Sahel States was signed in the capital of Mali, Bamako, by the heads of state of Burkina Faso, Captain Ibrahim Traor√©, Mali, Colonel Assimi Go√Įta and Niger, General Abdourahamane Tiani.

AP/BABA AHMED - El coronel Assimi Goita, jefe de la junta militar de Mali
AP/BABA AHMED - Col. Assimi Goita, head of Mali's military junta

The leader of Mali's military junta, Aissimi Go√Įta, said on his social media: "Today I signed with the heads of state of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, with the aim of creating a framework for collective defence and mutual assistance". Ibrahim Traor√© added that the signing of this agreement "marks a turning point in cooperation in the West African region". 

The three countries "undertake to combat terrorism in all its forms and organised crime in the common space of the Alliance," according to the official note. 

PHOTO/ Alexander Ryumin/TASS Host Photo Agency v√≠a REUTERS - El presidente de Rusia, Vladimir Putin, y el presidente interino de Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traore, se re√ļnen despu√©s de la cumbre Rusia-√Āfrica en San Petersburgo, Rusia, el 29 de julio de 2023
PHOTO/ Alexander Ryumin/TASS Host Photo Agency via REUTERS - Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Burkina Faso's interim President Ibrahim Traore meet after the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, Russia July 29, 2023

The recent history of these countries has been altered by various coups d'√©tat, civil wars and terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, Daesh and destabilisations of the region by the Wagner Group. In this context, the nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have seen relations with neighbouring countries worsen as well as for their international partners. 

One of the motivations for signing the agreement was pressure from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to threaten to use force to restore order in Niger. Prior to the agreement, Mali and Burkina Faso made it public that in the event of external actors entering the conflict in Niger, they would support those they consider their "brothers". 

PHOTO/FILE - ECOWAS, Economic Community of West African States

Meanwhile, since the 26 July coup d'√©tat in Niger, ECOWAS has sought and continues to seek a diplomatic solution in order to prevent a recurrence of insurgencies. Mediation in the conflict is complicated. 

France's continued presence in the unrest rocking the African continent has also been a problem in the resolution of the conflict in Niger. Along with Chad and Mauritania, the three countries were part of the joint G5 Sahel alliance force that was established in 2017 to combat jihadist organisations in the area, with diplomatic support from France whenever necessary. 

AFP/SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC - Soldado del Ejército de Mali de guardia a la entrada del G5 Sahel, una fuerza antiterrorista de cinco naciones (Mali, Burkina Faso, Níger, Mauritania y Chad)
AFP/SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC - A Malian Army soldier stands guard at the entrance to the G5 Sahel, a five-nation anti-terrorist force (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad)

But after its 2021 military coup, Mali abandoned the dormant group, and Mohamed Bazoum, Niger's newly ousted president declared in May 2022 that Mali's exit had left the force "dead". Since the coups, relations between the three states and France have deteriorated. 

The coup junta in Niger has demanded that France withdraw its ambassador and troops, and France has been forced to do so from Mali and Burkina Faso. As a result, France refused to accept the military junta's government. In the meantime, the two countries are locked in a tense conflict.

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