Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Bamako [Mali], September 17 (ANI): In a bid to bolster their collective security and combat potential threats of armed rebellion and external aggression, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso have formalized a mutual defence pact named the "Alliance of Sahel States." The historic charter, inked on a significant day, binds these nations to extend military assistance to each other in the event of an attack on any one of them, Al Jazeera reported.

The core principle of the pact is clear, "Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more signatory parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties." Furthermore, the agreement obligates these three countries to collaborate in preventing and resolving armed rebellions within their borders.

Mali's military leader, Assimi Goita, enthusiastically announced the alliance, stating, "I have today signed with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States, with the aim of establishing a collective defense and mutual assistance framework." The Liptako-Gourma region, where the borders of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger converge, has been plagued by armed rebellions in recent years.

Mali's Defence Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, emphasized that this alliance would combine both military and economic efforts among the three nations. He underscored their shared priority: "The fight against terrorism in the three countries," Al Jazeera reported.

The armed rebellion that initially erupted in northern Mali in 2012 gradually spread to Niger and Burkina Faso by 2015. All three countries were previously members of the France-supported G5 Sahel alliance joint force, which included Chad and Mauritania. This coalition was launched in 2017 with the primary objective of confronting armed groups associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Since 2020, these nations have experienced political coups, with Niger being the most recent in July when soldiers overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum, who had been cooperating with Western nations in combating Sahel-based armed groups. The West African regional bloc ECOWAS initially threatened military intervention in Niger due to the coup, but it has subsequently scaled back its aggressive rhetoric in recent weeks, according to Al Jazeera.

Mali and Burkina Faso swiftly responded to this threat by declaring that any such operation would be construed as a "declaration of war" against them. Meanwhile, relations between France and these three states have deteriorated since the coups. France has been compelled to withdraw its troops from Mali and Burkina Faso and is currently engaged in a tense standoff with the military authorities in Niger. Additionally, Mali has requested the departure of the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, from its territory.

Niger's military rulers have formally requested France to withdraw its troops and its ambassador, although France has refused to recognize the new military leadership. Concurrently, Mali has experienced a resurgence of hostilities by predominantly Tuareg armed groups in recent weeks, jeopardizing a 2015 peace agreement, Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)

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