African Confederation

The world is changing, centuries-old alignments are recalibrating, and no region is changing faster than North Africa and the Sahel. Barely a year after signing the historic mutual defense pact called the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso’s military leaders have signed a new confederation treaty, further rejecting ECOWAS and the French-dominated economic order.

This move signifies these countries’ shift away from traditional regional and Western allies, seeking greater self-reliance. As Burkina Faso’s President Ibrahim Traore bluntly stated, “The 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 population.”

This sentiment is echoed across North Africa, with many nations in the ECOWAS system chafing under the heavy-handed policies set in Paris. The spate of coups that brought the current leaders of this new confederation into power was motivated in part by anti-French backlash.

However, this movement is not entirely indigenous. The presence of Chinese investment and, more importantly, Russian Private Military Companies (PMCs) has provided these breakaway states with security and influence in global affairs. Whether this new confederation will flourish remains to be seen, but given the global political landscape, it is unlikely to rejoin ECOWAS or the Western-led world anytime soon.

France has been the greatest loser in this development, losing not only three important economic client states but also its prestige and influence in the region. Maintaining its traditional system will become increasingly difficult in the future.

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