For many years now, the Sahel region has been plagued by ethnic conflicts, terrorist attacks and abject poverty. Yet the region is key to stability on the entire African continent. In the interest of its own security, Europe is also keen to help strengthen efficient state structures and institutions in the Sahel countries. For only they can ensure, for example, that irregular migration along the routes to the Mediterranean is effectively blocked or that terrorist groups are countered on a long-term basis.
Germany active in two missions since 2013
Within the framework of its multilateral engagement for peace and security around the world, Germany has been helping to foster the stability of the Sahel region since 2013 with two military missions in Mali. The UN mission MINUSMA, for instance, is helping to implement the peace process in Mali and to stabilise Mali’s central regions. Furthermore, the EU-led mission EUTM Mali is advising Mali’s armed forces so that they can safeguard the country’s territorial integrity on their own and successfully tackle the threat posed by terrorist Groups.
A total of up to 1450 Bundeswehr troops have been involved in the two missions to date. Mali is thus now the Bundeswehr’s second largest deployment area in the world. Together with the diplomatic efforts to promote peace and stability and extensive contributions to development aid, the two missions are part of the German Government’s networked approach in Mali.
Foreign Minister Maas: “In terms of foreign and security policy we are neighbours”
The German Government has now proposed to the Bundestag that the mandates for the two missions be extended for another year until May 2021. During today’s debate in Parliament, Foreign Minister Maas stated that the two missions had produced somewhat mixed results. Hopeful developments such as the start of a dialogue on national reconciliation in late 2019 or the parliamentary elections in March 2020 were followed by setbacks time and again. For example, on Monday of this week three peacekeeping soldiers from Chad were killed in an attack in northern Mali. Particularly outside the central regions and centres in the south of the country, the security situation remains difficult.
However, the Foreign Minister went on to say that the aim of creating stability in the Sahel region in order to enhance security in Europe remained the right approach and appealed for patience and the continuation of the engagement in Mali. In order to make the current support more effective, the future direction of EUTM Mali had been carefully reviewed and would now be adapted. In particular, the Training was to take place closer to the area of operations while ensuring that German soldiers were not directly involved in the hostilities. What is more, the mission is to advise all five Sahel countries in future and not just Mali.
Following today’s first reading of the motions to extend the two missions, they were referred to the committees for further consultations and will then be debated in a second reading in the Bundestag chamber.