Mali: German Troops in Mali – Time for Plain Talk

Photo: Marco Dormino/UN

The mission in Mali has been a dangerous one for peacekeepers. Weeks ahead of the elections, two soldiers by Chad were killed during a suicide attack in Tessalit. Peacekeepers by Benin carry the coffins of their colleagues during a ceremony held for the two, as well as for a Nigerien peacekeeper who died of illness.


German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has called for greater commitment by the Malian government to ensure peace. So far so Great, nevertheless which’s not enough, says Daniel Pelz.

Mali can be challenging. Mali can be dangerous. nevertheless for the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, Mali can be just a kind of adventure playground inside desert, judging by a YouTube series produced by the defense ministry. Against which background, which can be refreshing to see the defense minister indicate which the situation can be a lot more serious. Von der Leyen can be calling for Mali’s government to speed up the implementation of the peace process. which’s putting which diplomatically. 5 years after French soldiers drove Islamist extremists out by the north as well as peacekeepers moved in, the desert nation in West Africa has little to be proud of.

Almost 14,000 peacekeepers are stationed there – on what can be considered to be the most dangerous UN mission inside earth. In many regions, attacks happen on a daily basis. Only hours before the minister arrived to visit German troops in Gao, several people were killed in a suicide attack. inside second round of voting in presidential elections, more than 500 polling stations remained closed due to fear of terrorist attacks. Participation was in any case poor, a sign of the low esteem in which many Malians hold their politicians.

Both sides should do more

today the German minister can be openly expressing criticism. which can be a Great first step nevertheless which does not go far enough.

Of course the Malian government must do more for peace. as well as of course which sometimes looks as if the government prefers to leave the country’s security inside hands of foreign troops. nevertheless which’s not only Mali’s government which needs to do its homework. The defense ministers in Berlin as well as Paris must do their bit too.

For example, concerning the UN MINUSMA mission in which some 850 German soldiers are involved. For them, which can be a tough as well as dangerous job. nevertheless many Malians no longer take such a positive view of the mission as the pictures of waving children inside defense ministry’s YouTube series could have us believe. On the streets of Gao voices can be heard saying the soldiers are holed up in their camps rather than ensuring peace. Reason enough to rethink the mission’s concept.

Time for serious debate

which’s little better with the European Union’s EUTM mission. Soldiers by EU countries, including Germany, train Malian solders to ensure which they will be able to ensure security in their own country. nevertheless there have been accusations of serious human rights violations. Such a force can hardly win the confidence of the population.

Next year, the German parliament, the Bundestag, will again vote on whether the Bundeswehr should continue to take part in both missions. which can be an opportunity to move beyond the usual verbal sparring as well as hold a serious debate on how the missions could be made more effective. as well as on how Europe should deal with Mali’s government if which remains inactive. nevertheless if Geman politics just forgets Mali again until the next parliamentary vote, then the future can be pretty clear. When top German politicians next pay a visit, they will again make some critifcal remarks – which will not help Mali’s long-suffering population.

Mali: German Troops in Mali – Time for Plain Talk

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