The United Kingdom announced, Monday, November 14, the early withdrawal of its soldiers currently deployed in Mali, highlighting in particular the recourse of the junta to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. “The United Kingdom 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, reputed to be close to the Moscow regime.
“The Malian government’s partnership with the Wagner Group is counterproductive for long-term stability and security in the region. » 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”Mr. Heappey insisted.
Nearly 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 supposed to last three years, but faced with the rise in instability, London decided to anticipate the withdrawal of its troops, who should leave the country in the next six months, according to the Ministry of Defence.
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. Relations 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.
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. “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.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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