In a significant development for the stability of the Sahel region, the military juntas of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have come together to form an alliance known as the Alliance of Sahel States, with the goal of ensuring collective defence and mutual assistance.
This historic security pact, called the Liptako-Gourma Charter, was signed on Saturday. The signing of this agreement marks a crucial step forward in the battle against Islamist insurgents, the fight against terrorism, and the restoration of constitutional rule in the region.
The Liptako-Gourma region, where the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger converge, has faced immense challenges in recent years. Rampant jihadist activity and the influence of extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State have plagued this vulnerable region. Alongside this, political instability and coups have further added to the complexities and security concerns faced by these countries. The need for a united front to combat these challenges has become increasingly apparent.
Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, all landlocked and geographically interconnected, have recognized the urgent need for collaboration and cooperation to effectively address the various threats faced by their nations.
The AES seeks to establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance, aiming to protect the populations of these countries and create a more stable and secure environment.
This alliance is not limited to military efforts alone. It is a comprehensive framework that encompasses both military and economic cooperation. The defence ministers of these three nations have emphasised the importance of this joint effort, with Mali’s Defense Minister Abdoulaye Diop stating that their priority is the fight against terrorism in the region. By combining military strength and economic resources, these countries hope to effectively combat insurgencies, promote stability, and foster economic development.
The timing of this alliance is particularly crucial considering recent events in the region. The military coup in Niger has drawn attention to the fragility of democratic governance in the Sahel and has prompted regional blocs like the Economic Community of West African States to threaten the use of force to restore constitutional rule.
In response to this, Mali and Burkina Faso had already expressed their commitment to assisting Niger in the event of an attack. The AES now solidifies this commitment and strengthens the collective security of the three nations.
The Liptako-Gourma Charter is a significant milestone in the fight against terrorism and regional instability. By joining forces, the military juntas of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have taken a step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of their populations.
This alliance will not only enhance their ability to combat jihadist groups but also provide a platform for greater regional cooperation, creating opportunities for economic growth, and encouraging peace and stability.
As per the charter of the pact, any act that undermines the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties shall be deemed as an aggression against the other parties. It is further stated that the other states shall extend individual or collective assistance, including the use of armed force. It is noteworthy that all three states were part of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force, along with Chad and Mauritania, which was established in 2017 to combat Islamist groups in the region. However, the recent coups have led to a deterioration in the relations between France and the three states.
However, challenges lie ahead. The success of this alliance will depend on the commitment and cooperation of the participating nations. It will require effective coordination, intelligence sharing, and joint military operations to effectively counter and eliminate the threat posed by extremist groups. Additionally, ensuring the respect for human rights and the rule of law while combating terrorism will be essential for the long-term stability and legitimacy of the alliance.