The rise of an anti-jihadi joint force in West Africa

Three West African countries, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, all run by military juntas, have recently announced plans to form a joint force to combat the growing threat of jihadist groups in the region. This decision was made following talks in the Nigerien capital, Niamey, where Niger’s army chief, Moussa Salaou Barmou, declared that the force would become operational as soon as possible. While specific details regarding the size and scope of the force were not disclosed, it is evident that the region is taking serious steps to address the escalating violence caused by groups associated with Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Over the past year, these extremist organizations have been responsible for a significant number of casualties in the Sahel region. Despite the military regimes’ efforts to strengthen their alliance, violence continues to plague the area, challenging their ability to fulfill promises of maintaining stability and security. This situation has led to a deterioration of relations with France, their former colonial power, resulting in the termination of military cooperation and the withdrawal of an international force, G5, created to combat Islamist threats in the Sahel.

Moreover, the military regimes’ decisions to align themselves with Russia and exit the West African economic bloc Ecowas have triggered concerns and sanctions from the international community, particularly from Ecowas. Pressure has been mounting on the juntas to restore democratic governance and alleviate the suffering of their populations, as well as to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis. Despite the easing of some sanctions, the path to reconciliation and stability in the region remains uncertain, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to address the root causes of extremism and violence in West Africa.