The military regimes that rule in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger signed an agreement on Saturday to create a defense alliance, their delegations announced yesterday in Bamako, the capital of the first country.
The “Liptako-Gourma map” creates the “Alliance of Sahelian States” (SAS), the head of the Mali junta, Assimi Goita, said via X (the former Twitter). Its purpose is “to create an architecture of collective defense and mutual aid”, he added.
This “charter” provides (Article 6) that “any attack against the national sovereignty or territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties shall be considered an attack against the remaining parties” and thus means “the granting of aid and rescue by all parties, individually or collectively, including the use of armed forces, to restore and guarantee security in the area covered by the alliance.”
Any ECOWAS intervention now becomes almost prohibitive. Any attempt at armed involvement by France or Nigeria will lead to a general conflagration in Africa.
After the July 26 coup in Niger, the Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO in French, ECOWAS in English) demanded that the military authorities “immediately restore constitutional order”, releasing and restoring to power the ousted president Mohamed Bazoum.
The regional body has repeatedly threatened military intervention and imposed heavy sanctions on Niger.
The military regimes in Burkina Faso and Mali say any military operation against Niger or themselves would be “illegal” and “absurd” and would lead to an “immediate response” from their side.
“The fight against terrorism is a priority”
“This alliance will be a combination of the military and economic efforts of the three countries ,” Mali’s Defense Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, told reporters.
“Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries,” he added.
The Liptako-Gourma region, which straddles the tri-national border of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, has been hit by jihadist activity in recent years.
Bamako and Ouagadougou, ruled by military men who seized power in coups in 2020 and 2022 respectively, almost immediately expressed their solidarity with the generals in Niamey after the July coup.
The latter remain rigid and keep imprisoned the overthrown president Bazum, whom they want to try for “high treason”.
At least ten attacks attributed to jihadists have killed around a hundred people, half of them civilians, since the July 26 coup.
The “Sahel Alliance”, which includes various states and institutions, notably France, Germany and the US, has suspended aid programs in Niger.
All three GCC states were members of the French-backed G5 Sahel alliance (the other two members were Chad and Mauritania), formed in 2017 to counter jihadist groups. This alliance is now considered clinically dead.
The relations of the three countries especially with France took a turn for the worse. Paris, which has already been forced to withdraw French armed forces from Mali and Burkina Faso, is at loggerheads with Niger after the new regime in Niamey demands it withdraw its troops and ambassador. The French government refuses to recognize the junta.
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