Dhe Bundeswehr is coming under increasing pressure from the military government in Mali and is finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill the UN mandate of the Bundestag. On Wednesday, the Defense Committee of the Bundestag also dealt with the situation of the German contingent of the international MINUSMA mission in the West African country in a special session. For months, the regime of the putschist leader Assimi Goïta has restricted the Bundeswehr and other states that are deployed to stabilize the country and support the government in Bamako in Mali, the freedom of movement and action.
The Malian government recently informed the civilian airport operator in Bamako that all foreign soldiers would have to leave the site. A letter from the Department of Transport and Infrastructure on Tuesday evening said the operator breached an agreement by building a “hotel with different amenities” for foreign military forces.
Russian mercenaries of the “Group Wagner”
“This fact leads to risks for the internal and external security of the state and represents a violation of your contractual obligations.” The airport company may only provide “offices, hangars and traffic routes”. The foreign forces would have to give way within 72 hours of Tuesday this week. So far, the hotel at the airport has primarily been used by the German Armed Forces as a transit camp in order to travel from there to the main base in Gao. The Operations Command announced that about 60 soldiers were also affected. One tries to achieve the fastest possible clarification and solution of the situation through “discussions at all levels”.
Goïta, a colonel in the Malian army, seized power in the spring of 2020 and last year persuaded France to withdraw entirely from Mali. At the same time, the regime in Bamako invited Russian forces to Mali, including, according to the German government, Russian mercenaries from the so-called “Wagner Group”. Because of these activities, the European training mission EUTM has already been suspended in the country. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) had already announced several times that a withdrawal of the German contingent could be unavoidable under such circumstances.
Mali’s military government has turned its back on the former government’s allies ever since it came to power. The deep rift with the former colonial power France was obviously only the beginning. Now those in power in the Malian capital, Bamako, also seem to want to drive the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, out of the country. “It looks as if Mali is trying to get Germany and other western troop providers to withdraw with ever new restrictions and needle pricks,” says Ulf Laessing, head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.