Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger’s leaders signed a treaty establishing a defence partnership on Saturday, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced at a news conference.
“Today, together with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger, I signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), the aim of which is to establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations”, the head of Mali’s ruling junta, Assimi Goita, posted on X.
In recent years, jihadism has decimated the Liptako-Gourma region, which connects Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
The three countries are waging war against a jihadist insurgency that began in northern Mali in 2012 and extended to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.
Since 2020, all three nations have had coups, most notably Niger, where the military deposed President Mohamed Bazoum in July.
“This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries”, Mali’s defence minister, Abdoulaye Diop, said at the press conference on Saturday.
“Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries”, he added.
Mali has experienced a revival of hostilities by mostly Tuareg armed groups during the past week, in addition to fighting terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State organisation.
The successionist factions started a rebellion in 2012 before concluding a peace treaty with the state in 2015.
That pact is currently widely regarded as dormant.