Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger Form Mutual Defence Pact (Sahel security alliance)

In a bid to bolster their collective security and combat the looming threats of armed rebellion and external aggression, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have come together to sign a mutual defence pact known as the Alliance of Sahel States. This landmark agreement, signed on a Saturday, binds these Sahel countries to provide military assistance to one another in the event of an attack on any of them. Here are the key developments and insights.

Why Sahel security alliance in news?

Key Developments of Sahel security alliance

  • Collective Defence Commitment:
    The Alliance of Sahel States commits its signatories to support each other, both militarily and diplomatically, should any one of them come under attack. The pact views an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one of the contracting parties as an aggression against all.
  • Preventing Armed Rebellions:
    Beyond external aggression, the pact also obliges Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger to collaborate in the prevention and resolution of armed rebellions within their borders.
  • Regional Focus:
    The agreement’s focal point is the Liptako-Gourma region, where the borders of these three nations converge. This region has been severely affected by armed rebellions in recent years.
  • Military and Economic Collaboration:
    The pact aims to forge a combined effort, encompassing both military and economic initiatives, among the three nations. Their top priority is the ongoing fight against terrorism within their territories.
  • Historical Context:
    Armed rebellions erupted in northern Mali in 2012 and subsequently spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015. These nations, along with Chad and Mauritania, were part of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force, established in 2017 to combat armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS in the Sahel region.
  • Coups and Regional Tensions:
    Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have all experienced political coups since 2020, which have strained their relations with Western countries, especially France. The coup in Niger in July raised concerns, leading to threats of military intervention by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.
  • France’s Evolving Role:
    France, a key player in the region, withdrew its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso due to these political upheavals and is currently at odds with the military authorities in Niger. Tensions persist as Mali requested the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA, and Niger’s military rulers asked France to withdraw its troops and ambassador.
  • Tuareg Armed Groups:
    Mali has witnessed a resurgence of hostilities by predominantly Tuareg armed groups in recent weeks, posing a threat to the fragile peace agreement reached in 2015.

FAQs related to Sahel security alliance

What is the primary objective of the Alliance of Sahel States?

The primary objective is to enhance the collective security of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger by committing them to mutual military assistance and cooperation against external aggression and armed rebellions.

Why is the Liptako-Gourma region significant in this pact?

The Liptako-Gourma region, where the three nations’ borders meet, has been severely affected by armed rebellions, making it a critical area for collective security efforts.

What has been the role of France in the Sahel region, and why has it withdrawn its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso?

France has supported counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel but withdrew its troops due to political instability and tensions with the military authorities in these countries.

How have recent coups affected relations between these Sahel nations and the international community?

The coups have strained relations, with threats of military intervention by regional blocs like ECOWAS, and raised concerns about stability in the region.

What challenges does the resurgence of Tuareg armed groups pose to Mali?

The resurgence threatens the 2015 peace agreement in Mali and adds to the region’s instability.

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