Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have signed a security pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States (ASS).
According to the pact signed on Saturday, September 16th, the leaders who all came to power through a military coup have promised to come to each other’s aid in case of any rebellion or external aggression.
The alliance between Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso has created deeper tensions between the three and other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which have threatened, on multiple occasions, the use of force to restore constitutional rule in Niger.
“I have today 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 establishing a collective defence and mutual assistance framework,” Mali leader Assimi Goita announced via his X account. The signing was hosted in Mali’s capital city, Bamako.
The charter 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.”
All three signatories have agreed to assist one another, including militarily, in case of an attack on any one of them. Either by providing aid individually or collectively if need be.
The four-page document also calls for a greater need for economic and political self-sufficiency across Africa.
“… to continue the heroic struggles waged by the African people and countries for political independence, human dignity, and economic emancipation, as a defining tenet of the alliance,” it reads.
It also binds the three countries to work to prevent or settle armed rebellions as well as combat terrorism within the region.
This is especially significant as all three were members of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance, along with Chad and Mauritania, launched in 2017 with the objective of “enhancing the stability and global development of the region”, in the fight against extremist groups in the area.
Mali had previously left the organization after its coup in 2022, while the deposed President of Niger, Mohamad Bazoum, previously said that the force was “dead” following Mali’s withdrawal.
France had also been forced to withdraw its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso and is currently still in a tense standoff with the military junta in Niger after they asked French President Macron to call back France’s troops and ambassadors. Rendering the G5 Sahel Alliance at a standstill.
France has still refused to recognize the authority of Niger’s interim leader, General Abdourahamane Tiani, and has not yet withdrawn its officials still residing in the country.
What does each country stand to benefit?
The charter provides a sense of security for Niger from military intervention from ECOWAS, as many members continue to call for the use of force.
In terms of the fight against terrorism, Mali has the most to gain. In recent months, Mali has seen the escalation of armed tensions between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group, as well as Tuareg armed groups in northern Mali. Originally launched in 2012, in the last few weeks they have claimed that they are in a “time of war.” Stretching Mali’s army to its limit.
According to Radio Omega, Burkina Faso’s president, Ibrahim Traore, is expected to lead the alliance due to the relative stability the leader has managed to maintain in the country.