In West Africa against Russia (II)
Controversy over reconnaissance drone flights hampers Bundeswehr mission in Mali: Bamako is denied access to the data. Burkina Faso also expels French troops from the country.
BAMAKO/BERLIN/OUAGADOUGOU (Own report) – Prior to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit in Mail, announced for today, the dispute over the German Bundeswehr’s deployment in that West African country has again flared up. For months, Mali’s military government has made it virtually impossible for the Bundeswehr to conduct drone operations, which are considered indispensable. In seeking to regain control over what is happening in its own country, Bamako has thus been demanding access to the images and data being recorded by the drones. Apparently, this access has been denied the Malian government because of Bamako’s growing cooperation with Moscow, which Western powers seek to sabotage. While the conflict over the Bundeswehr mission in Mali continues, a quite similar development is taking place in neighboring Burkina Faso. There also, the military government has ordered the French armed forces to leave the country. Observers are convinced that this is because Burkina Faso is preparing to cooperate with the Russian military, and they do not rule out similar developments in even more West African countries. Read more
The Next Lost War
German Foreign Minister Baerbock obtains extension of military operation in Mali, primarily for strategic reasons. The Mali mission is just as much a failure as the Afghanistan venture before it.
BAMAKO/BERLIN (Own report) – The German government postpones for a year the planned pull-out of the Bundeswehr from Mali to May 2024, to accomplish Germany’s strategic interests in the Sahel. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht have agreed on this measure. Whereas Lambrecht had initially pleaded for terminating the mission at the end of its current mandate – May 2023 – Baerbock insisted on an extension, for reasons that have nothing to do Malian interests. Russia’s influence in the Sahel must be repelled, declared the foreign minister, and besides, a German participation in a UN mission in Mali is advantageous for applying for a renewed seat on the UN Security Council. The fact that the mission in Mali is primarily based on strategic interests, is like the dispatchment of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan in late 2001. There the mission failed last year – after nearly two decades – marked by war crimes, a lack of reconstruction and western ignorance. It bares many resemblances to the – also failed – mission in Mali. Read more
Battle Over Mali (II)
In Berlin the debate over the future of the Mali mission escalates. The mission is considered a failure, however Moscow’s growing influence in Bamako should be weakened.
BAMAKO/BERLIN (Own report) – In Berlin, the debate about a possible Bundeswehr withdrawal from Mali is escalating. Alongside the dispute about German troop transports and an apparently unauthorized use of a military camp by a private, service contractor engaged by the Bundeswehr, the conflict is mainly focused on Mali’s growing military cooperation with Russia. In addition to the presence of a growing number of Russian soldiers and private military contractors, Moscow is also increasing its arms deliveries to Bamako. The West’s efforts to repel Russia’s influence in Mali has long since included the UN’s MINUSMA operation, which the western powers seek to have investigate the suspected massacre of civilians. Massacres, such as these, have been carried out for years. They remained unsolved, as long as the EU was in charge of training Malian soldiers. The West’s attempts to instrumentalize human rights, to fight Russian influence in Mali, is leading to a conflict over the new MINUSMA mandate. In Berlin, demands for withdrawal are growing to the same degree as the opposite demands not abandon Mali to Russia. Read more
Battle Over Mali (I)
Conflict over Germany’s Bundeswehr deployment in Mali continues. Bamako criticizes highhandedness of the West, particularly of France, including acts of espionage and subversion.
BAMAKO/BERLIN (Own report) – The conflict between Mali and Germany continues over the Bundeswehr’s deployment in that West African country. Differences over the German soldiers’ arrival and departure were resolved last week. Once Berlin consented to comply with the new troop transport regulations, the rotation of the Bundeswehr contingent in Mali – which had been scheduled since some time – was accomplished last Thursday. However, the conflict over Mali’s military cooperation with Russia continues. Bamako is also taking action against unauthorized operations on its territory by foreign powers. It reproaches France of having carried out this year alone dozens of unauthorized aerial operations in Mali, some aimed at espionage and subversion. Mali’s government is therefore requesting a special session of the UN Security Council. Bamako is also taking action against a private contractor of the German Bundeswehr, for allegedly having operated a military camp at the airport of Mali’s capital without the appropriate authorization. All this must be seen in the context of Bamako’s fears of a West-inspired coup. Read more
Colonial Reflexes (II)
The decision to possibly end the Bundeswehr’s mission in Mali is imminent. Mali’s Prime Minister warned that his country can no longer be “enslaved.”
BAMAKO/PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) – The debate concerning terminating the Bundeswehr’s mission in Mali is gaining momentum. France wants to make its decision concerning how, or whether, it intends to continue to pursue its military intervention in this West African country by the end of the month. This was caused by the fact that the military government in Bamako refuses to continue to put up with the paternalism and high-handed attitude of its former colonial power and other European countries, and is openly defying them. Most recently, in reaction to serious accusations raised by France’s foreign minister, the French ambassador was expelled from the country and France’s Sahel policy sharply criticized. Mali cannot “be transformed into a slave,” declared Prime Minister Choquel Maïga, at the beginning of the week. “Those times are over.” German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht’s trip to Mali this week was canceled on short notice. Berlin is contemplating whether to discontinue the EU’s training mission, but continue participation in the UN’s MINUSMA mission. As a correspondent in Bamako reported, “many people” are “delighted” at the prospect of the EU troops withdrawal. Read more
Mali’s government expels Danish troops, because they had joined the French-led Opération Takuba without the necessary approval. Resentment grows toward EU.
BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) – Mali’s government is escalating its confrontation with EU countries and, for the first time, is forcing the withdrawal of a European troop contingent. On Monday, the military government in Bamako declared that Danish soldiers had entered the country to join the French-led Opération Takuba without the necessary authorization, and that they must leave the country immediately. Denmark claims that the deployment of its troops had been approved by Bamako, but announced yesterday that it would withdraw the disputed unit from Mali. With this conflict, the Malian government’s protest against the behavior of European powers, accusing them of having “colonial reflexes,” enters its second round. The dispute hat already previously escalated, when Bamako decided to postpone elections, initially planned for February, and to invite Russian military instructors into the country. With Sunday’s putsch in Burkina Faso toppling a president closely aligned with France, the European powers’ influence is beginning to wane in yet another Sahel country. Read more
Cold War in Mali
Berlin considers beefing up the Bundeswehr in Mali. Background: Bamako relies on military instructors from Russia.
BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) – The chairwoman of the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag is raising the issue of arming the Bundeswehr soldiers with Boxer armored transport vehicles. “If that air becomes more leaded,” the “light and medium weight equipment,” currently at the Bundeswehr soldiers’ disposal may no longer suffice, according to Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP). Alternately, one must ask, whether the Bundeswehr’s withdrawal from Mali could provoke “large movements of refugees” or if the “Russians would broaden their presence” in the country, since Mali’s military government – like the government of the Central African Republic – is inviting military instructors from Russia into the country, possibly personnel from private military contractors. On the one hand, there is fear that once European troops withdraw, it could end up like the government in Afghanistan, and on the other, resentment is growing toward the European states’ neocolonialist policies, while Russia’s popularity is increasing. According to experts, “many Malians” are fed up with “sanctions and threats” from former colonial powers. Read more
Russian Flags in Bamako
The debate on the future of the German Bundeswehr mission in Mali is taking place as Russia and Turkey noticeably increase their influence in the Sahel.
BERLIN/PARIS/BAMAKO/MOSCOW (Own report) - The West's significant loss of influence in Mali is affecting the debate on the future of the Bundeswehr mission in the Sahel. While Berlin - in light f the defeat in Afghanistan - is suggesting that the intervention in the Sahel should not become "the next 20-year mission," the transitional government in Bamako is contemplating recruiting mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group, as Plan B, in case there is a partial or complete western withdrawal. Plan B is linked to the expansion of military cooperation between Mali and Russia launched in June 2019, with the signing of an agreement. The prospect of closer cooperation with Moscow is met with growing sympathy within the Malian population. At the same time, Turkey is also consolidating its position in the Sahel by expanding its economic and cultural influence and training Malian officers. Following Syria and Libya, Mali is, therefore, the next country, where the Western powers are losing their influence while Russia and Turkey are enhancing theirs. Read more
Putsch in the Theater of Operations
Berlin and Paris are relying on a military solution, even after the putsch in Mali. More civilians are killed by military in the Sahel, than by jihadis.
BERLIN/BAMAKO (Own report) - Following the coup in Mali, politicians in Berlin are pushing to enhance the influence of Germany and the EU in the Sahel. Brussels should be engaged "more vigorously for the security in West Africa," admonished CDU/CSU Defense Policy Spokesperson in the Bundestag Henning Otte. The Bundestag had already approved an increase in personnel for the training units in Mali. German troops in northern Mali will be provided with an additional drone. France seeks also to commit more troops. The Sahel's increasing militarization has led to a constantly growing number of civilians being killed by regular soldiers. While the EU is training Mali's armed forces, Malian soldiers are massacring villagers. The coup itself is the result of a dynamic stemming from the population's indignation toward the corruption of Mali's elites, who are cooperating with European powers. This development is quite similar to that in Afghanistan. Read more
More Military for the Sahel (II)
German Bundestag decides today on Mali troop deployment expansion. Experts criticize continued militarization of Sahel conflicts.
BERLIN/BAMAKO/OUAGADOUGOU (Own report) - With today's decision to extend and expand the Bundeswehr's deployment in Mali, Berlin is once again boosting the region's militarization. The attempt to defeat Sahel insurgents and jihadis by force has been a failure since troops from Germany and other European countries began their mission in Mali in 2013. Since then, the war has been spreading because of socio-economic conflicts - first in Central Mali, then in Burkina Faso at Mali's southeastern border. Instead of taking preventive action with resolute economic support, Germany and other EU powers have continued to militarize the conflict. This has simply made matters worse, and only helped push the region closer to the brink of the abyss, experts note in view of developments leading to a growing number of ethnically motivated massacres in several Sahel countries. It was a European war, in the first place, that lit the spark to armed conflict in Mali. Read more