News reports say that nearly 300 British soldiers have been present in Mali since the end of 2020, as part of the deployment of the peacekeeping mission.
However, the United Kingdom announced on Monday, the 14th of November,
2022, the early withdrawal of its soldiers currently deployed in Mali, highlighting in particular the recourse of the ruling junta to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner.
The report said, “The UK contingent will be leaving (the UN peacekeeping mission) earlier than planned,” Secretary of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey told the House of Commons.
Consequently, “We must be clear that the responsibility for all this lies with Bamako, ” he said, referring to the rapprochement of the junta in power since 2020 with the paramilitary group Wagner, reputed to be close to the Moscow regime.
He added that, “The Malian government’s partnership with the Wagner Group is counter-productive to long-term stability and security in the region.” Hence, the British government “cannot deploy the national army to provide security when the host country government is unwilling to work with us to bring lasting stability and security.”
It had been reported that, nearly 300 British soldiers have been present in Mali since the end of 2020, as part of the deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country launched in 2013 (Minusma), aimed in particular at stabilizing the security situation in a country in prey to jihadist attacks.
It was explained that the commitment was supposed to last three years, but faced with the rise of instability in the country, London decided to anticipate the withdrawal of its troops, who should leave the country in the next six months, according to the Ministry of defense.
In the meantime, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the press after visiting the Christian cemetery of Saint-Eugene in Algiers, August 26, 2022.
In any case, France, the main country intervening militarily in Mali, in particular via the soldiers of the Barkhane force, as well as its European partners announced in February their withdrawal from the country. The last French soldiers left Mali this summer, after nearly a decade of intervention.
Thus, relationship between the Malian authorities, dominated since August 2020 by the military and its partners, in particular the UN, have been strained in recent months. After pushing the former French ally out, the ruling junta attacked Minusma several times orally, whose mandate was renewed in June for one year.
And now, the withdrawal of British troops from Mali does not mean that the United Kingdom is completely turning away from its commitments in the region, said the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces.
According to him, “We are working closely with our allies to explore options to rebalance our deployment alongside France, the European Union and other allies who share our values,” Heappey said.
Therefore, the actors of the region are to meet coming week in Ghana, to coordinate their response to the instability in the Sahel region and in particular to support the initiative launched by Accra to bring together the countries of West Africa. in order to avoid the contagion of violence.
Hence, “The UK will continue its engagement in Mali and the Sahel through our humanitarian, stabilization and development assistance, working closely with our partners,” Mr. Heappey concluded.