Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger Finalise Form Sahel States After Quitting ECOWAS, Seek Closer Ties with Russia


May 18, 2024

In a significant move, three military-run countries in the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – have finalized plans to form a confederation, marking a shift away from their former colonial ruler, France, and towards closer ties with Russia.

The foreign ministers of the three countries met in Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Friday to agree on a text establishing the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). According to Niger’s Foreign Minister, Bakary Yaou Sangare, the objective of the meeting was to finalize the draft text relating to the institutionalization and operationalization of the AES.

The move comes after the three countries announced their decision to quit the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which they claimed was under French influence, in late January. The Sahel region has been plagued by deadly jihadist violence for years, which they accused France of not being able to curb.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop expressed optimism about the new confederation, stating, “We can consider very clearly, today, that the Confederation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) has been born.” Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister, Karamoko Jean-Marie Traore, also attended the meeting.

The AES aims to promote regional cooperation and stability, and the three countries are expected to adopt the text at a summit, although the date has not been specified. The move marks a significant shift in the regional dynamics of the Sahel, as the countries seek to assert their independence and forge new alliances.

As the Sahel region continues to grapple with the challenges of violent extremism, economic decline, and climate change, the formation of the AES represents a bold attempt to address these issues through regional cooperation and solidarity.

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