More than four months after slamming the door of the G5 Sahel, can Mali return to the regional organization? Other countries demand it. Without Bamako, is the G5 Sahel doomed to failure?
Last Wednesday, the Chiefs of Staff of the G5 Sahel member countries met in Niamey, Niger. Objective: to rearticulate the intervention force, but without Mali. Since last May, the military junta currently in power has taken the decision to withdraw from all organs and bodies of the G5 Sahel. And in particular of the joint force. Bamako then criticized the non-holding of a summit which was to allow Mali to take the presidency of the regional body.
General Salifou Mody, of Niger, affirmed that there was “urgency to consult and rearticulate” after the departure from Bamako, and to “continue joint efforts to fight against cross-border threats to our common space”. The chiefs of staff have studied all the options to move forward without Mali.
But does the G5 Sahel still have a raison d'être with exclusively Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad in its ranks?
Mali does not digest its sidelining
Not really, according to the speeches of Nigerien and Chadian officials, who constantly send signals to Mali to try to get him back within the organization. But the "violation of a decision taken by the Institution, but also that of the basic texts of the G5 Sahel", namely to offer the presidency of the G5 Sahel to Mali, does not pass on the side of Bamako which sees, in this decision , a way of isolating Bamako as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have already done.
At the end of the Niamey meeting, the Ministers of Defense solemnly asked the Malian leaders to reconsider their position. "It's true, the withdrawal from Mali is a handicap for all the joints of the G5 Sahel joint force, but we are continuing the fight, and we are united", declared the Chadian Minister of Defense who assures us that he has not "never let go of Mali" and asked "our Malian brothers to return to the G5 Sahel because the enemy is common and the G5 Sahel is created even in relation to terrorism in the Sahel and precisely in Mali".
Indeed, the presence of terrorists in Mali is one of the main sources of insecurity in neighboring countries. Distraught, the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Mauritania even believe that the G5 Sahel, after having reintegrated Mali, will have to expand.
Algeria still stays away from the G5 Sahel
For security expert Abass Abdoulmooumouni, interviewed by DW, the G5 Sahel must also obtain Algeria's agreement to be integrated into it. "Even with Mali, the G5 Sahel cannot validly deal with terrorism without Algeria, which is another fairly significant weight that must be integrated today into the dynamics of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and which will absolutely involve the departure of France completely from the Sahel, ”he says.
This is undoubtedly the crux of the problem: Algiers does not want and will never want foreign forces, notably French, on its borders. As early as 2017, when discussing the financing of the G5 Sahel, the Algerian press had recalled that Algiers "does not want another structure which evacuates the in-depth political treatment of the question according to an Afro-African approach and which will be ' a means' to make the presence of foreign troops on its borders sustainable insofar as the G5 Sahel cannot function without French, or even German, technical and strategic support".