July 17, 2024
Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger form new confederation

Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger form new confederation

The Alliance of Sahel States (AES), established in September 2023, unites Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—three nations grappling with severe security challenges posed by jihadist terrorism. This alliance marks a significant departure from the established regional order, particularly concerning the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and French influence.

The military regimes in these countries, installed through coups between 2020 and 2023, have increasingly distanced themselves from France, accusing it of interference.

This estrangement has manifested through the expulsion of French forces, the termination of military cooperation, and the closure of embassies, signaling the end of a post-colonial era of influence in the region.

The first AES summit, held in Niamey, Niger’s capital, represents a pivotal moment in the political evolution of the Sahel region.

The heads of state of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger took a crucial step by adopting a treaty establishing the Confederation of Sahel States.

This decision underscores their commitment to deepening integration and strengthening cooperation to tackle shared challenges.

The creation of this confederation occurs amidst escalating tensions with ECOWAS. In January, the three countries announced their withdrawal from the regional organization, accusing it of being a tool of French policy.

General Abdourahamane Tiani, the leader of Niger’s military regime, emphasized during the summit that their peoples had “irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS,” marking a clear break from the West African bloc.

The ambitions of the new confederation extend beyond the security domain.

The leaders have expressed their intent to pool resources in strategic sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, and transportation.

This approach aims to enhance the autonomy and resilience of the three countries in facing economic and environmental challenges.

A notable aspect of this alliance is the formation of a joint military force, announced in March, to combat jihadist groups threatening regional stability.

This initiative demonstrates the three states’ determination to take control of their security, independently of external actors.

Promoting local languages in public and private media is also among the confederation’s goals. This measure aims to strengthen cultural identity and facilitate more effective communication with local populations.

The emergence of this confederation raises questions about the future of regional relations in West Africa. ECOWAS, which will hold a summit in Abuja, must reconsider its strategy in light of this new bloc.

Persistent tensions between the AES and ECOWAS, exacerbated by sanctions imposed on Niger following the July 2023 coup, remain a significant concern.

The rise of the Confederation of Sahel States represents a profound shift in regional geopolitics. It reflects a desire for increased autonomy and a redefinition of alliances in a region facing complex security and development challenges.

The development of this new entity and its impact on regional stability will be closely watched by international observers in the coming months.

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