Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso set to establish joint force to combat jihadist groups within their borders

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Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have declared their intention to establish a joint force aimed at combating jihadist threats within their borders.

Niger’s army chief, Moussa Salaou Barmou, announced the formation of this force during a televised address in Niamey on Wednesday, following discussions in the capital. However, specific details regarding the size of the force were not provided.

In the past year, extremist groups affiliated with both Islamic State and al-Qaeda have perpetrated numerous attacks, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people in the region.

The military regimes in these three countries have grown increasingly interconnected in recent months. Last September, they entered into a mutual defense pact known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), departing from the international G5 force originally established to combat Islamist extremism in the region.

Despite promises from the military governments to address the long-standing conflict with jihadist groups, violence in West Africa’s Sahel region has escalated in recent years.

All three countries have severed their diplomatic ties with France, their former colonial power, which previously maintained a significant military presence across the Sahel. Additionally, Mali’s leaders have ordered the UN peacekeeping mission, Minusma, to withdraw without delay, completing the exit in December.

To fill the resulting void, the military regimes have strengthened their ties with Russia. Furthermore, they have announced their withdrawal from the West African economic bloc, Ecowas, after being suspended from the organization. Ecowas has been urging the military regimes to swiftly return to democratic governance and has imposed travel and economic sanctions as a means of pressure.

In response to Ecowas’ calls for dialogue, some of the sanctions were recently lifted or eased, signaling a potential path toward reconciliation and stability in the region.

Source: BBC


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