The two remaining members of West Africa’s G5 Sahel alliance on Wednesday said they were paving the way to dissolving the anti-jihadist grouping, after the other three founding countries left.
The G5 Sahel, which included Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, was created in 2014, with an anti-jihadist force added in 2017, backed by France.
On Saturday, Burkina Faso and Niger said they were withdrawing from the alliance. Mali’s junta said it was quitting in 2022.
Chad and Mauritania “take note and respect the sovereign decision” of Burkina Faso and Niger to leave the alliance, following in the footsteps of Mali, the two countries said in a statement.
They “will implement all necessary measures in accordance with the G5 founding convention, notably Article 20,” they said.
The article says that the alliance can be dissolved at the request of at least three member states.
In announcing their withdrawal on Saturday, the military leaders of Burkina and Niger did not explicitly call for its dissolution.
However, the fate of the grouping had seemed sealed even before Mali’s junta announced it was quitting in 2022.
The joint military force has achieved only meager results — on the ground, few joint G5 operations have actually been carried out, and the security situation has continued to deteriorate.
Violence has spread and thousands of civilians and fighters have been killed and millions of people displaced from their homes.
It has also contributed to political instability in the region, which has seen a succession of military coups — in Mali in 2020, Burkina in 2022, and earlier this year in Niger.
‘Treats Like Children’
Stressing their sovereignty, Mali, Burkina, and Niger have increasingly turned their backs on their former colonial power France and its European partners.
Their military rulers have all accused Paris of having an outsize role after years of French deployments on their territories.
This year, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso — who are all battling long-running jihadist insurgencies — have come together to support the creation of an Alliance of Sahel States, establishing closer economic ties and mutual defense assistance.
And the foreign ministers of the three nations last week recommended creating a confederation as part of a long-term goal of uniting the West African neighbors within a federation.
Burkina Faso and Niger said in their statement on Saturday that they had decided “to quit all instances of the G5 Sahel, including the joint force.”
The decision took effect on November 29, they added.
“The organisation is failing to achieve its objectives,” they said.
“Worse, the legitimate ambitions of our countries, of making the G5 Sahel a zone of security and development, are hindered by institutional red tape from a previous era,” they added.
“The G5 Sahel cannot serve foreign interests to the detriments of our people, and even less the dictates of any power in the name of a partnership that treats them like children, denying the sovereignty of our peoples,” Burkina and Niger added in the statement.
Mali accused the G5 Sahel of being a tool of an “outside” state.