The announcement drew the attention of observers in the explicit call it carried, in which the three countries confirmed that the invitation is open to the countries of the region to join the new alliance, as well as what was considered an explicit coup against the existing Sahel alliance, which includes Mauritania and Chad.
Some features remain unclear, but this union seems not surprising, because in the wake of the July 26 coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso have confirmed their support for the new generals' regime in Niamey.
Triggering disagreements within West African countries led by soldiers following coups in 2020 and 2022, they declared that they were willing to intervene militarily to defend Niger in the event of an attack by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Reasons for the new alliance
According to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Scientific Research at the Islamic University of Niger and researcher in African affairs, Ali Yacoub, in an interview with Sky News Arabia, "This alliance was established because these three countries are pariahs from previous alliances, especially the "five Sahel countries" and "CEDIAW", and the issue of terrorism in these three countries is more important in terms of focus, abundance and attacks."
Mohamed Ben Mustapha Sankari, a researcher in African and Sahel politics in Bamako, told Sky News Arabia that "this alliance comes in line with the fate of these three countries, all of which witnessed military coups, which provoked the resentment of France as a former colonial power and regional and international bodies."
He gives the example of Mali, which, as he put it, suffered a year after the coup from the sanctions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as is the case with Burkina Faso and Niger today. So the fate of these three countries is the same, and currently Niger is threatened by ECOWAS to intervene militarily to save Bazoum from the putschists."
Following the July 26 coup in Niger, the Economic Community asked the military authorities to "immediately restore constitutional order" and release the ousted Nigerian president, who is threatened with trial for "high treason" and remains imprisoned by the junta. It has repeatedly threatened armed intervention.
According to Article VI of the Charter, "any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more Contracting Parties shall be deemed to be an attack against the other Parties and shall entail the duty of assistance and relief of all Parties, individually or jointly".
Thus, "if ECOWAS intervenes militarily, it will find on its way the soldiers of the three countries," Sankari adds.
Circumstances of origin
According to journalist and researcher in African affairs, Mahfouz Ould Salek, "the founding charter of the new alliance, which was called "Leptako-Gourma", an area where the borders of the three countries meet, bears the same name that the three countries had previously given to a previous alliance it founded in 1970, more than half a century ago, and its character was purely economic, while the new alliance combines economic and security."
As for the circumstances of the creation of this charter, he says that "the alliance of Sahel states" is very similar in circumstances to the "Group of Five Sahel countries."
"The group of five Sahel countries was formed to achieve economic and security goals, and the same goals that the new union seeks to achieve. However, the Group of Five Sahel States was established two years after armed groups took control of major cities in northern Mali, prompting a French military intervention to expel them. France succeeded in retaking the cities of the north, but did not succeed in eliminating these groups during the presence of French military personnel in the country, within the framework of Operation Serval and Barkhane. The new bloc was established in a different context marked by military coups and the continued threat of armed groups to various countries in the region."
On the other hand, he believes that the establishment of this new alliance "is also a reflection of the Russian-French rivalry in the region, as the Group of Five Sahel countries, which was founded in 2014, is affiliated with France, and French President Emmanuel Macron previously attended the launch of its military force during a summit held in Bamako in 2017. The current bloc was launched by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus Bey Yevkurov in Bamako, visited Burkina Faso and Mali as part of its formation, and met in the Malian capital with Niger's defense minister.
Thus, Ould Salek said, "This is part of a power struggle between Paris, whose presence is declining, and Moscow, which is taking advantage of military coups to strengthen its presence at its expense, presenting itself as an alternative."
Death certificate of the "Five Sahel Countries"
On the other hand, the Malian researcher believes that "the new bloc wrote the death certificate of the "five Sahel countries", which remained ink on paper because the alliance did not actually see the light on the ground. It has not been able to carry out a single real joint military operation. "The alliance was already moribund and weaker after Mali's exit and Burkina Faso's coup."
The Dean of Graduate Studies and Scientific Research at the Islamic University of Niger goes further by saying that the threat may affect "Sidyaw", with whom they have tried a lot, for example, to ease sanctions on Niger out of humanity, especially with regard to foodstuffs, medicines and electricity, but she refused. Thus, the organization tortures the people, not the soldiers who carried out coups. If this stubbornness continues, it is certain to see the withdrawals of a number of countries."
Why were Chad and Mauritania excluded from the new alliance?
As for the two remaining countries in the Group of Five Sahel countries, the journalist and researcher asserts that "Russia has not yet been able to expel France from them. This makes it unlikely that the two countries will join the new alliance, but the alliance may seek to join new countries, which may not necessarily resemble the three countries in the security challenge, but may suffer from the same economic, developmental and social challenges."
In this regard, Article 11 of the new Charter keeps the door open for accession by "any other State with the same geographical, political, social and cultural realities".