Alliance of Sahel States to Hold First Summit

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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The military leaders of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali are set to hold their first high-level summit under the Alliance of the Sahel States (AES). Taking place on July 6th, in Niger’s capital of Niamey, the summit will officially mark the activation of the AES regional organization, as the region’s military leaders push back against calls to rejoin the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

What You Need to Know

“The heads of state of the three countries, Colonel Assimi Goïta of Mali, Captain Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso and General Abdrahamane Tiani of Niger, will meet to discuss the common challenges facing their countries and to identify concerted regional solutions.

Expectations are high for this summit which should lead to important decisions for the future of the AES and the Sahel region. The populations of the three countries are impatiently awaiting this summit to mark a decisive turning point in the fight against terrorism and poverty,” the Alliance said in a statement on X.

Initially created in September 2023, through the ‘Liptako-Gourma’ charter, in reference to the Liptako-Gourma subregion which connects the borders of all three nations, the Alliance of Sahel States sought to act as a platform for regional cooperation as well as create a mutual defense pact, as Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are all grappling with increasing incursions by militant Islamic groups.

Since pulling out of ECOWAS in January, the three coup-hit nations have resisted calls to rejoin the West African economic bloc, despite the claim that the region’s juntas seek to transition to civilian rule in the coming years.

Most recently, junta rule in Burkina Faso under Captain Ibrahim Traore was extended for an additional five years, with the original transition date for the country set for July of this year.

So, What Now?

The first meeting of the AES heads of state is likely to establish a joint force with the task of combatting the region’s deteriorating security situation. At the same time, however, is ECOWAS’s $2.6 billion proposal to establish its own 5,000-man strong standby force to combat the very same issue.

The effectiveness of such a force has been questioned by analysts, particularly as thorough counter-terrorism strategies should, on paper, involve ‘bottom-up’ nation building techniques, such as increased civilian participation in civil society, politics, and multi-faceted poverty alleviation processes.

Currently, it is unclear if either the AES or ECOWAS holds the resources or capacity for such a task.