Britain announces early withdrawal of troops

The United Kingdom announced on Monday, November 14, the early withdrawal of its soldiers currently stationed in Mali, highlighting in particular the junta’s use of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. “The British contingent will leave [la mission de la paix de l’ONU] earlier than expected”said the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, before the House of Commons. “We must be clear that the responsibility for all this lies with Bamako”he added, referring to the rapprochement of the junta in power since 2020 with the paramilitary group Wagner, which is reputed to be close to the Moscow regime.

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“The Malian government’s partnership with the Wagner Group is counterproductive to long-term stability and security in the region.” The British Government “cannot deploy the national army to provide security when the host country’s government is unwilling to work with us to create lasting stability and security”insisted Mr. Happy.

Almost 300 British soldiers have been present in Mali since the end of 2020 as part of the deployment of Minusma, the UN mission launched in 2013 to stabilize the security situation in a country plagued by jihadist attacks. The engagement was to last three years, but faced with increasing instability, London decided to anticipate the withdrawal of its troops, who were due to leave the country within the next six months, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Tight conditions

France, the main country intervening militarily in Mali – mainly through 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 almost a decade of intervention. Relations between the Malian authorities – dominated since August 2020 by the military – and its partners, particularly the UN, have been strained in recent months. After pushing out the former French ally, the ruling junta repeatedly verbally attacked Minusma, whose mandate was renewed in June for a year.

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The withdrawal of British troops from Mali does not mean that the UK is completely turning away from its commitments in the region, the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces said. “We are working closely with our allies to explore options for rebalancing our deployment with France, the EU and other allies who share our values.said Mr Heappey. The UK will continue its engagement in Mali and the Sahel through our humanitarian, stabilization and development assistance, working closely with our partners. »

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The world with AFP

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