Bundeswehr mission in Mali: Rather go than stay

Status: 06.02.2022 2:40 p.m

Does Mali want the German troop presence at all? Doubts about the deployment in the African crisis country are growing in German politics – as are concerns about the safety of German soldiers on the ground.

By Kai Clement, ARD Capital Studio

Rather go than stay, that now seems to be the trend in German Mali politics. On the one hand, the West African country does not want to repeat the Afghanistan mistake and end up having to hastily follow its most important partner in the withdrawal, in Mali that would be the French.

Kai Clement
ARD Capital Studio

On the other hand, the behavior of the Malian military regime is irritating: a temporary flight ban for the UN troops, the expulsion of the French ambassador – after two military coups, there are still no elections in sight.

“I’m actually more worried every day about the soldiers who are deployed in Mali,” said the Bundestag’s Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl Deutschlandfunk. Basically, from their point of view, it is sensible and right to use the mission to stabilize the Sahel zone. At the same time, however, she demanded a quick decision as to how and whether the mission should continue.

Högl criticizes Mali’s lack of reliability

“Of course, the Malian government has to say what it expects, what it wants, but it also has to be a reliable partner for us. There are increasing impressions that it is no longer a reliable partner, but on the contrary: the operations are hindered, the missions are not desired,” says Högl.

Högl reminded that the current Bundeswehr mandate for Mali ends on May 31. So there is “only a little time” left for a decision. In Mali, the Bundeswehr is involved in the EU training mission EUTM and the UN mission Minusma.

Strack-Zimmermann wants an “exit strategy”

The chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, told the newspapers of the Funke media group that the Bundeswehr would certainly not stay in Mali “whatever the hell”. But leaving the country in a hurry is also not advisable, according to the FDP politician.

She advocates an exit strategy. Most recently, she had sharply criticized the overflight ban for a German Bundeswehr aircraft. “The whole thing is an unacceptable process. Yes, one could say: an unfriendly act.”

Now Strack-Zimmermann speaks of “deliberate disruptive fire”. That was irritating, after all, the government at the time had invited them. Högl also criticizes Mali’s actions: “In the last few days, it has of course also become clear that the deployment of our German forces, but also that of international forces, is being significantly hampered there.”

Lambrecht and Baerbock express skepticism

In the federal government, too, the discussion about the Mali commitment has meanwhile taken on a different tongue.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on ZDF: “At the moment I’m very skeptical as to whether we can actually continue to get involved on the ground. I don’t have the impression that we’re welcome any longer.” This also has something to do with the fact that the Bundeswehr and the allies are making their work more difficult. “And that’s why it’s very difficult to imagine that this commitment can be continued.”

In an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” recently, the Green Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, asked loudly whether things could go on like this – as her spokesman Christofer Burger later quoted: “Nevertheless, we are now faced with a situation in which we, As the minister said, we have to ask honestly whether the prerequisites for successful engagement are still there.”

What’s more, not only has the West African economic community imposed sanctions on members of the military junta, the EU has meanwhile also joined them.

Rather go than stay? Defense Commissioner Högl questions the Mali mission

Kai Clement, ARD Berlin, 6.2.2022 · 13:58


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