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German defense minister 'skeptical' about Mali mission

February 6, 2022

Growing challenges in Mali are forcing Germany's military to consider the future of operations in the West African state. There are around 1,200 German personnel deployed.

A soldier from the Bundeswehr stands near an armoured personnel carrier in northern Mali
Germany's Defense Minister has expressed doubt over Germany's continued involvement in MaliImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's defense minister on Sunday expressed doubt as to whether Germany's military mission in Mali can continue.

Christine Lambrecht told German broadcaster ZDF: "I am currently very skeptical about whether we can actually continue to be involved on the ground. I don't have the impression that we are welcome any longer."

Germany's Mali mission

There are around 1,300 German military personnel involved in the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) and the UN's MINUSMA mission.

They're part of the multinational counter-terrorism and peacekeeping mission in the country that has been in progress for nine years.

Infografik Internationale Truppen in Mali EN

Eberhard Zorn, the Inspector General of the German armed forces, also expressed concerns over the continued viability of the mission.

Speaking to Deutsche Presse-Agentur Zorn highlighted growing military threats and political instability in the west African state.

"We have a government there that we understand does not have democratic legitimacy. That elections is in five years is an intolerable state of affairs for us. There can be no 'business as usual,'" Zorn said.

Frayed relationships

Tension between Mali's military junta and former colonial power France has led to the expulsion of the French ambassador. The military leadership also called for the immediate withdrawal of Danish forces in January. They were to join the fight against Islamist insurgents in the Sahel region.

Mali along with a number of west African neighbors has been locked in a war of attrition with various insurgent groups active in the border region between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Western states have been concerned that if they pull forces out of the country, Russia will step in and fill the gap. In January the US military said Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group were in Mali.

The military junta has denied that Russian mercenaries are being used but says there are Russian trainers in the country.

kb/aw (dpa, Reuters)