Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, three West African countries ruled by military juntas that have signed a security pact promising to aid each other in the event of internal unrest or external aggression, present a novel alternative to ECOWAS.
Relations with neighbours and international partners have been strained, and the three countries are still fighting to contain insurgents with ties to al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Niger’s recent coup has exacerbated tensions between the country and its neighbours in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has threatened to use force to restore constitutional rule in the country.
If Niger is attacked, Mali and Burkina Faso have said they will send troops to its defence.
According to the charter of the pact, the Alliance of Sahel States, “any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties.”
It pledged the assistance of the other states, either singly or in concert, including the deployment of military force.
To create a framework for collective defence and mutual assistance, Mali’s junta leader Assimi Goita announced on X that he had signed the Liptako-Gourma charter with the heads of state of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Together with Chad and Mauritania, these three countries formed the G5 Sahel alliance in 2017 to combat extremists in the region, an effort backed by France.
Mali abruptly left the organisation following a military coup, and in May of last year, Niger’s deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum, declared the force “dead” due to Mali’s departure.
France’s ties to all three countries have been severely strained ever since the coups.