The European Union (EU) decided on Monday 11 April to“stop” its military education and training missions in Mali, but will remain in the Sahel and deploy to neighboring countries, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell announced.
“Events force us to this decision. We didn’t get [de la junte] the guarantees requested. But we are not abandoning the Sahel”explained Mr. Borrell, after a meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Twenty-Seven in Luxembourg. “We are going to continue training on the laws of war, because the military must know that war has laws and rules of the game”he added.
Germany plans to withdraw its soldiers present in Mali as part of the EU training mission and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma). German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has planned to meet the head of the Malian junta during a trip to Mali this week. She wants “to get a clear idea of the political and security situation” before deciding whether or not to maintain the Bundeswehr, explained a spokesman for the ministry.
Two coups since August 2020
Some three hundred German soldiers take part in the European Union training mission in Mali (EUTM) and 1,100 soldiers in Minusma, which has 14,000 soldiers and police.
“The question is how the Minusma will be able to continue to work. If it’s to stay (…) in barracks, it is not necessary to stay”judged Mr. Borrell.
The military seized power in Mali in two coups, in August 2020 and then in May 2021. The main problem facing the EU is the presence of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who came to Mali at the call of the junta, and the collaboration of units of the Malian army trained by the EU in their activities.
The Europeans are calling for an independent investigation into the events that took place in Moura, in the center of the country, between March 27 and 31. The army says it has “neutralized” 203 jihadists during a major operation. But there are testimonies of the mass execution of civilians by Malian soldiers and “foreign fighters”.
The Moura region is one of the main centers of violence in the Sahel. The United Nations has announced that it has opened an investigation.
The EU has committed several hundred soldiers and experts to two training missions in Mali, EUTM for the armed forces and EUCAP Sahel-Mali for the police. EUCAP’s mandate, approved in 2015, has been extended until 31 January 2023. EUTM’s mandate, since 2013, runs until 18 May 2024.