The military governments in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced on January 28 that they would leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The leaders of the three Sahel nations released a statement asserting that their departure from ECOWAS is a "sovereign decision" to be executed "without delay".
Facing challenges from the ongoing insurgencies and economic hardship, the governments have experienced strained relations with ECOWAS, particularly following coups in Niger in July of last year, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Mali in 2020.
All three nations were suspended from ECOWAS, with Niger and Mali enduring substantial sanctions.
In recent months, these countries have solidified their stances and formed an "Alliance of Sahel States".
The withdrawal of French military forces from the Sahel, the region along the Sahara desert across Africa, has raised concerns about the potential spread of conflicts southward to Gulf of Guinea states, including Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Ivory Coast.
The prime minister appointed by Niger's military regime criticised ECOWAS for "bad faith" on January 25, expressing dissatisfaction as the bloc largely avoided a scheduled meeting in the capital, Niamey.
ECOWAS froze Niger's assets on July 30, 2023, imposed sanctions on the junta officials, and gave a stern warning of military intervention if the former government was not restored within a week.
Correspondingly, the junta took measures to consolidate its authority and fortify its anti-imperialist stance: halting uranium and gold exports to Europe, revoking all military deals with France, and blocking French media platforms France24 and RFI.
Additionally, the military leaders warned France and ECOWAS against any military intervention: stressing that they would "resolutely defend their homeland".
Regional countries have also taken opposing stances on Niger. Original members of the Western-backed ECOWAS bloc such as Senegal have affirmed their commitment to join a military intervention.
Mali and Burkina Faso vehemently opposed the threat of military intervention against Niger saying they would consider it a declaration of war against their respective nations if the ECOWAS bloc went through with the threatened military intervention.
[Abridged from english.almayadeen.net.]