Burkina Faso and Niger recently announced their decision to withdraw from the G5 international force established to combat Islamists in the Sahel region, following Mali’s lead. These three countries are currently under military rule after undergoing coups that led them to form their own alliance for mutual defense, known as the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), signed in September.
Although Burkina Faso and Niger have opted out of the G5 force, Chad and Mauritania remain committed to the cause, which aims to deploy approximately 5,000 soldiers. The military-led governments of Burkina Faso and Niger expressed their discontent with the G5 force, criticizing its failure to improve security in the Sahel region. They also emphasized the force’s perceived interference with their desire for “independence and dignity,” accusing it of serving foreign interests, specifically implicating France.
Tensions with the former colonial power, France, have escalated significantly as a result. There are concerns about the potential impact of these withdrawals on the Islamist militant groups that have been gaining strength across the Sahel region. Thus far, there is no evidence to suggest that these military-led governments are effective at protecting their populations from the threat posed by the growing influence of al-Qaeda and IS-linked fighters in the region.