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Burkina Faso Defense and Foreign Policy

Foreign policy and defense

Burkina Faso has good relations with France and other EU countries but has had more complicated foreign relations in its own region. Nowadays, however, several West African countries are cooperating in the fight against the growing threat from Islamist terrorists.

Burkina Faso has maintained close ties with the old colonial power of France since independence in 1960. France is an important trading partner and aid provider. Relationships are good even with other European countries.

  • Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Burkina Faso for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Libya was an important aid donor during the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's time in power (1969–2011) and there was a strong bond between his regime and President Compaoré (1987–2014). Burkina Faso was also considered to mediate contacts between Gaddafi and other countries in the region.

When Burkina Faso supported Charles Taylor's guerrilla movement in Liberia in the early 1990s, relations with several countries in the West African cooperation organization Ecowas, especially Ghana and Nigeria, deteriorated. After some improvement, the neighboring countries again grumbled when Burkina Faso was accused in 1999 of supporting the RUF rebels in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Burkina Faso has also been accused of supporting RUF in southern Guinea but has denied all charges.

Important trade in Ivory Coast

Defense and Foreign Policy of Burkina FasoTraditionally, ties to the Ivory Coast have been strong, not least in terms of trade. The coastless Burkina Faso is dependent on the Ivorian ports. Up to three million Burkinis lived in the Ivory Coast when a land dispute in 1999 fueled xenophobia among the Ivorians. Burkinis began to be expelled, and the tide grew dramatically when the Ivorian government accused Burkina Faso of supporting the rebels in the Ivory Coast civil war in 2002. A total of half a million Burkinais are believed to have given up on Burkina Faso. When the situation became troubled again in Côte d'Ivoire 2010–2011, many Burkinians once again began to leave, but since then the situation in the neighboring country has stabilized.

In 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted a $ 100 million loan to Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire jointly to modernize and simplify trade between the countries, thereby lowering both costs. It was the first time the IMF supported a regional project of this kind.

President Compaoré mediated in a number of regional conflicts, such as in Ivory Coast in 2007, in Togo in 1993 and 2006, between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998–2000 and in Mali in connection with the civil war in 2012–2013. Mali and Burkina Faso had long had a sensitive relationship following a border dispute in the 1980s, but from 2012 Burkina Faso contributed soldiers on the Malian government's side in the civil war against Islamist separatists in the neighboring country's north. The Burmese government also acted as mediator between the two parties. In 2016, Mali and Burkina Faso launched a collaboration to fight Islamist terrorists in the region after both countries suffered severe terrorist acts (see Current Policy). The collaboration meant increased exchange of intelligence tasks and shared search. In the summer of 2016, President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré met his Ivorian colleague Ouattara to sign ten bilateral agreements.

Regional development work

Together with Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad, Burkina Faso in 2014 formed an organization named G5 Sahel. Its purpose is to strengthen cooperation on development and security in the region. The headquarters were located in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott.

Relations with Niger were long disrupted by a border dispute, which was resolved in 2013 by a ruling in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Just over two years later, the two countries began work on adjusting the border in accordance with the ICJ's decision.

Burkina Faso broke its relations with China in the 1990s to establish contacts with Taiwan instead, even though China was one of Burkina Faso's main exporting countries. However, in the spring of 2018, Burkina Faso decided to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan, in order to establish relations with China, which opened a new embassy in the country in July of that year.

Defense

The military's influence is less clear after the transition to civilian rule in the early 1990s, but army factions have later also sought to exert influence over politics. At the end of 2015, parts of Compaore's old life guard attempted to regain lost power. The failed coup attempt resulted in the dissolution of the Presidential Guard shortly thereafter.

The Burmese army is active in the fight against Islamist terrorists in the region. In 2010, the United States conducted a military exercise, Operation Flintlock, together with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal with the aim of jointly destroying the terrorist threat. The al-Qaeda terrorist group in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) has been behind several attacks and kidnappings in the region since 2008. In recent years, the violence of jihadists has increased, especially in the northern part of Burkina Faso. France, which concentrated on training the Burmese defense forces, appeared in the autumn of 2018 to play a more active role in the fight against the jihadist groups. This is done, for example, via the G5 Sahel, where Mali, Chad, Niger and Mauritania participate, alongside Burkina Faso.

One problem is that the soldiers are both poorly trained and suffer from a lack of weapons and other equipment.

FACTS - DEFENSE

Army

6,400 men (2017)

The air Force

600 men (2017)

Military expenditure's share of GDP

1.4 percent (2017)

Military spending's share of the state budget

5.1 percent (2017)


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