Sahel: military regimes on the rise - How to balance interests and values?

Sahel: military regimes on the rise

How to balance interests and values?

In recent years, the Sahel region has witnessed the rise of military regimes. The failed Algiers peace process in Mali and the military coups in Bamako, Ouagadougou and, most recently, Niamey have fundamentally changed its political landscape. The announcement of the simultaneous withdrawal of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 28 January 2024 could represent a major change of direction. Traditional partnerships with the so-called West (notably France, the EU, and the US) are also being called into question by a sovereigntist discourse that involves increasingly close alliances with assertive adversaries of the West such as Russia and China.

Despite being viewed critically because of the increase in human rights violations and the shrinking space for civil society, the military regimes in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger seem to enjoy a certain amount of support or sympathy, particularly among young people. They argue that the once democratically elected governments have not done enough to remedy the lack of prospects, which is characterised by high youth unemployment and widespread insecurity outside the capital cities. This should not be underestimated since the region is home to more than 230 million young people under the age of 24, representing 60 per cent of the total population.

Germany now has a special role to play here - with its chairmanship of the Sahel Alliance regional development initiative. While Germany as well as the EU are analysing how to remain engaged in the Sahel in light of these developments, the following questions arise: What factors have contributed to the rise of military regimes in the Sahel region? What are the implications of cooperating or refusing to cooperate with military regimes? What should Germany and the EU do differently in the future to ensure a healthy balance of values and interests in their relations with the countries of the Sahel?

Speakers: Bernhard Braune or Almut Knop (BMZ, tbc), Dr Antje Herrberg (College of Europe), Mathieu Pellerin (International Crisis Group), Francois Paul Ramdé (UFC Dori, Burkina Faso)

Moderator: Philipp M. Goldberg (Friedrich Ebert Foundation Dakar, Senegal)

Venue: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – K2/Konferenzraum, Hiroshimastraße 28 (Haus 2), 10785 Berlin

Registration: invitation only – please contact Anna Weissenborn via email at

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