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One day before the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was to open on July 7, the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger signed a new defense pact during a their summit in Niamey, Niger, reported Reuters and other press agencies.

The confederation is called the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), and was first announced last September; the three countries withdrew from the ECOWAS in January 2024. The pact is to support each other against armed rebellion or external aggression. Coups in a half-dozen nations of the Sahel in the last few years, including in the three countries during 2020-2023, have freed themselves from military and diplomatic ties with many regional allies and Western powers.

This is the first summit of the AES, and signals a closer alignment between the neighbors in the Central Sahel—and a devastating blow to colonialist France and its supporters in London and Washington.

]Reuters noted](, “Niger’s military leader General Abdourahamane Tiani described the AES summit as ‘the culmination of our determined common will to reclaim our national sovereignty.’

“Formalizing the treaty to establish a confederation confirms the rejection by Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso of the 15-member Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) … which had hoped to persuade the three to reconsider their decision in January to quit the bloc.

“‘Our peoples have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS,’ [Niger’s Gen. Abdourahmane Tiani] said in a speech. ‘It is up to us today to make the AES Confederation an alternative to any artificial regional group by building ... a community free from the control of foreign powers.’

“In a communiqué issued after the summit, the countries said they had agreed to coordinate diplomatic actions, create an AES investment bank and stabilization fund, and pool their resources to set up projects in strategic sectors including mining, energy and agriculture.

“The heads of state ‘welcomed their irrevocable withdrawal without delay from ECOWAS,’ it said.”

Deutsche Welle also reported cited Burkina Faso’s leader Capt. Ibrahim Traoré as accusing Western countries of exploiting Africa. “‘Westerners consider that we belong to them and our wealth also belongs to them. They think that they are the ones who must continue to tell us what is good for our states. This era is gone forever; our resources will remain for us and our populations,’ Traoré said.

“‘The attack on one of us will be an attack on all the other members,’ Mali’s leader Col. Assimi Goïta also said.”