Berlin has declared that the 1,100 German soldiers presently serving in Mali will leave by May 2024.
As part of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA, German troops have been stationed in the African nation for over ten years, to the growing chagrin of the Bamako administration.
According to government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit, the deployment will get one last year-long extension request from the administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz in May 2023, “in order to bring this operation to an organized finish after 10 years.”
Germany has not yet officially informed the UN that it plans to leave; instead, it plans to keep the mission in Mali.
According to deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, “the mission is already examining the impact of these withdrawals on its activities and we are already in contact with a number of nations to fill any gaps.”
Egypt left MINUSMA earlier than expected. Sweden stated last week that its troops will go by June 2023, while the UK and Ivory Coast made similar announcements last week.
German scouts make up fewer than a tenth of MINUSMA’s 15,000 total personnel and are mostly stationed close to Gao in the northern desert. Another 20 or so soldiers are now assigned to ongoing UN missions in Western Sahara and South Sudan.
In 2013, after militants allied with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) took control of sizable portions of the nation, Mali requested assistance from abroad. Operation Barkhane, which was started by the country’s former colonial master France, later spread to the nearby nations of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger.
But early this month, Paris formally terminated the operation due to rising unhappiness among former colonies. In May, Mali had revoked its defense agreement with France. Bamako has allegedly turned to the Russian private military firm Wagner for assistance while accusing France of really aiding militants.
Scholz and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht overcame Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who openly opposed the concept, as seen by Berlin’s decision to withdraw.
In an interview with Bild am Sonntag in August, she stated that “we will also feel the impact in Europe” if “entire regions fall into the hands of Islamists, if girls can no longer attend school, or if the entire Mali becomes Russia’s vassal.”
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