Alliance des États du Sahel, AEC
On September 16, representatives of the transitional military governments of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger signed a charter in the city of Bamako establishing unity and the Alliance of Sahel States (Alliance des États du Sahel, AEC) – an organization of regional collective defence, open to the accession of other countries in the region, i.e. former “French” West Africa. The head of the transitional government of Mali, Colonel Assimi Goita, made a corresponding statement. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the African state published the text of a document known as the “Liptako-Gourma” charter (after the name of the historical region at the junction of three countries, where until recently, the French were closely seated under the pretext of “fighting terrorism”).
“Any attack on the sovereignty or territorial integrity of one or ore parties will be considered an attack on the others”
According to the sixth paragraph of the document, “any attack on the sovereignty or territorial integrity of one or more parties will be considered an attack on the others” and will require the assistance of all countries party to the treaty, including the use of military force. Thus, the charter actually reproduces the wording of Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which means the creation, perhaps for the first time in the history of the African continent, of a military-political bloc aimed at countering the neo-colonialism of the former metropolis and the West as a whole.
“I signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter with the heads of state of Burkina Faso and Niger, establishing the Alliance of Sahel States to create an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance in the region for the benefit of our people,” said the Malian leader. Let us recall that the liquidation of the pro-French puppet regimes in Niger (at the end of July) and in Gabon (at the beginning of September) caused a very nervous reaction from the former metropolis and some of its particularly zealous local supporters, even to the point of threats of intervention in Niger under the guise of the ECOWAS economic union.
Russia and China fully support unity and complete decolonisation of Africa
However, these threats have not yet been realized, which is the unfavourable external environment for potential interventionists, which Algeria, Turkey and some other states have clearly spoken out against. Considering that the decision to create unity and the Alliance of Sahel States was made in the context of negotiations that took place between the delegation of the Russian Ministry of Defense led by Sergei Shoigu’s deputy Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, this step can be considered an asymmetrical response by Russia to hostile actions on the part of the collective West.
On September 16, Yevkurov met in Bamako with the President of Mali, Assimi Goita, as well as with the Ministers of Defense of Mali, Sadio Camarou and Niger, Salifa Modi. Shortly before that, separate meetings of representatives of the Russian military department with colleagues from Burkina Faso and Niger took place, which were also closed.
By early 2023, French military bases had already been expelled from Mali and Burkina Faso and from the Central African Republic, where patriotic forces had come to power earlier. In Niger, such bases still remain, but the National Council for the Defense of the Motherland insists on their removal as soon as possible. According to available information, Algeria, Guinea, Mauritania and the Central African Republic are “looking closely” at the Alliance of Sahel States, which may become its associated members. According to some French experts, this bloc was initiated by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China since Chinese military delegations have also recently been seen in some states of the region.
Unity Open for Expansion
Guinea, under a regime that is not very friendly to Paris, may also join the Sahel Treaty in the near future. It opens the prospect of unhindered regular rail and road transit of Russian military-technical cargo to members of the Alliance of Sahel States.
Russia’s African strategy, implemented in various directions, is aimed at disorganizing (at a relatively modest cost) geopolitical structures of the West that have lost their adequacy to the realities of the 21st century, with the goal of a radical restructuring of the regional security system and promising formats of mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral interaction.