Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have formed a new military alliance.
The three countries also signed a common defence pact in the face of African and European pressures in the Sahel region.
The three countries called the agreement ‘Alliance of Sahel Countries’. It provides for the establishment of a common defence structure and mutual support between the signatories.
It came after the three countries witnessed military coups, the latest of which was in Niger in July this year.
The new alliance is similar to the African Federation in West Africa. It comes in the wake of the alignment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with France.
The alliance paves the way for a new situation in the region. However, the alliance’s success depends on the military strength of those countries and their resilience in the face of economic sanctions.
The three countries are making efforts to contain terrorist elements which are closely linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda.
They also work to end strains in relations with neighbouring countries and international partners.
The July 2023 coup in Niger caused a rift between Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, on one hand, and ECOWAS countries, on the other.
The member states of this bloc threatened to use violence to restore constitutional rule in the country.
The three countries pledged, meanwhile, to provide assistance to Niger if attacked.
The Charter of the alliance of Sahel states stipulates that any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more of the signatories will be considered an aggression against the other parties.
It adds that the other two states will provide assistance individually or collectively, including through the use of armed force.
The Malian army ranks third among ECOWAS armies, and the 110th at the international level.
Mali has a defence spending volume of $591 million. Around 20,000 soldiers are conscripted in this army.
Mali possesses 39 warplanes, 50 tanks, 1,294 military vehicles, and 45 rocket launchers.
As for the Niger army, it ranks fourth among ECOWAS states. It ranks 119th among the largest 145 armies in the world. Niger has a defence spending estimated at $287 million. Its army contains 13,000 soldiers, 16 warplanes and 728 armoured vehicles.
African affairs specialist, Nurhan Sharara, said the new alliance was expected after the coups that took place in the three states.
“Those military councils felt the need for military, cultural and economic cooperation between them to face external pressures and Western sanctions and ECOWAS countries,” Sharara told The Reference.
“The new alliance may be propaganda or a political manoeuvre more than an actual military alliance,” she added.