23 Nov 2022 06:15 am
France has already withdrawn its soldiers from Mali. On Tuesday, after a tug-of-war between Defense Minister Lambrecht (SPD) and the Green Foreign Minister Baerbock, who wanted to continue the operation, the federal government decided to withdraw until May 2024.
According to the Federal Government, what is currently the Bundeswehr’s largest foreign mission, in West African Mali, is to be extended for the last time next May and finally expire by May 2024. By this date, the last German blue helmet soldiers of the UN mission are to be withdrawn from Mali. This was the result of a top-level meeting chaired by Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Tuesday in Berlin. According to its own statements, the government is thus drawing the consequences of a months-long dispute with the military rulers of the West African state.
Germany is currently providing around 1,200 soldiers for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma). This mission is currently considered the most dangerous of the United Nations. After the failure of the western engagement in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, this is the Bundeswehr’s only major foreign mission.
After the deliberations, it was said that the conditions for the withdrawal should be created with a last mandate from the Bundestag in the coming year. It is proposed to Parliament that the mandate be “last extended by a year in May 2023 in order to allow this deployment to expire in a structured manner after ten years,” said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. This is intended in particular to take into account the elections in Mali – planned for February 2024.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) announced that the Bundeswehr wanted to “leave Mali in a very orderly manner” and “support” the political transition process. At a panel discussion at the Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS), she said:
“That means security for the soldiers, who know what to expect. And that also means security for us in the political arena and a turning point in terms of evaluating and then really drawing the right conclusions.”
The withdrawal plan is also intended to end the disagreements between Lambrecht and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens). Baerbock wanted the Bundeswehr’s deployment in Mali to continue beyond 2024. Green politicians in particular were against a deduction.
Recently there had been repeated clashes between the military rulers of the West African country and the UN mission. The country of 20 million people has experienced three military coups since 2012. Since the most recent coup in May 2021, Mali has been led by a military transitional government. France has already withdrawn its soldiers, Great Britain also announced a withdrawal. This was justified by growing concerns about military cooperation between Mali and Russia.
The Ministry of Defense informed the Bundestag on Monday about the situation in a classified information. According to information leaked to the press, as reported by the dpa quoted, the security situation in Mali “continues to vary from region to region across the country.” In the document, the Ministry of Defense rated the situation in Gao City, Sevare City and Koulikoro as “sufficiently controllable” and in the capital Bamako as “largely controllable”. However, the reconnaissance mission will be further restricted. The Heron reconnaissance drone was last flown on October 11 due to a lack of Malian flight permits.
Mali’s government recently made a planned entry for the German Inspector General Eberhard Zorn practically impossible by tightening visa regulations.
Criticism of the withdrawal plan came from the opposition. The decision was politically completely uncoordinated and militarily unprepared, wrote the CDU defense politician Henning Otte. This traffic light approach endangers “the safety of our soldiers in this difficult mission”.
CSU foreign politician Thomas Erndl told the dpa:
“So far, the federal government has not been able to explain conclusively why it is making this decision at this point in time. In any case, it is not embedded in a Sahel strategy, nor is it coordinated with partners.”
Left-wing politician Sevim Dağdelen, on the other hand, said the decision was an admission of complete failure. At the same time, the safety of the German soldiers is endangered by the complete withdrawal being delayed until 2024.
“That is unacceptable and completely inappropriate to the situation. The Bundeswehr must leave Mali immediately,” said Dagdelen.
more on the subject – Germany’s failure in Mali – a symbol for the dwindling European influence in Africa
rt de / dpa