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Germany along with Irish troops suspends military operations in United Nations Mali mission

The Irish Army Ranger Wing will end its participation with German troops in Mali in September.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht speaking to troops.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht speaking to troops.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Aug 12th 2022, 5:23 PM

GERMANY HAS ANNOUNCED that it has immediately suspended its involvement in the Mali MINUSMA United Nations mission in a dispute with the Malian Government. 

This will have the knock on effect of Irish troops in the area also suspending operations. 

Christine Lambrecht, the German Defence Minister, criticised the Malian Government in a tweet this morning after the African state refused access to its airspace. 

Germany along with other States, including Ireland, have deployed troops as part of a mission to counter Jihadist groups in the war ravaged West African country. 

The UN mission MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) was established in April 2013, following the country’s violent Tuareg rebellion in 2012.

The detachment of the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW) is embedded with a much larger group of German Bundeswehr military and are conducting reconnaissance missions in the north of the country. 

Sources have said that as the ARW operators use transport supplied by their German colleagues – the knock on effect is that their operations are also suspended.  

The ARW are set to end their involvement with MINUSMA in September and return home.

arw mali A member of the Army Ranger Wing in Mali. Source: Irish Defence Forces

It is understood Germany was examining the possibility of extending it’s involvement but that now appears to be in doubt. 

The political and security situation in Mali has worsened in recent months as a military Junta took control. Concerns have been expressed that Russian Wagner Group mercenaries are also operating in the country in conjunction with the Malian Government. 

In a tweet Lambrecht strongly criticised the Malian Defence Minister Colonel Sadio Camara. 

“Again those in power in Mali have not allowed the UN MINUSMA mission access to its airspace. A planned rotation of personnel is therefore not possible. That has effects on our engagement, given that the security of our soldiers has the highest priority.

“Camara’s actions speak a different language to his words. Therefore we must take measures and will halt the operations of our reconnaissance forces and CH-53 (military heavy lift helicopter) transport flights until further notice,” Lambrecht said. 

In a joint statement the Irish Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs said that the Defence Forces were closely monitoring the situation but advised that the Irish MINUSMA mission would end in the coming weeks.

“We are aware of various press reports concerning the participation of the German Armed Forces in the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). We understand that Germany has suspended all reconnaissance and transport operations in Mali after the Malian authorities refused access to its airspace.

“The Department of Defence and the Defence Forces are continuing to monitor the situation in Mali closely.

After three years participation in the Mission, during which time they operated with their German colleagues, the Defence Forces’ participation in MINUSMA will come to a conclusion next month,” the statement said.

The Irish Government decided to reduce the number of troops to a European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in July. Involvement in EUTM is under review. 

Irish troops were training local forces but Minister Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence had previously said in the Dáil that Ireland was monitoring the deteriorating situation in the country. 

It is understood Irish soldiers are instructing trainee local police at present but that those activities have slowed dramatically in recent months.

Mali

Despite military help from France and the UN, Mali’s government is struggling to quell violence that began in the north of the country, sparked by radical Islamist and Tuareg groups.

At the time, the Malian Army became ill-equipped to fight insurgents, and factions in the army staged a military coup in March 2012.

A deal between different groups was eventually brokered in Burkina Faso, before the establishment of MINUSMA and the deployment of UN peacekeepers in July 2013.

But violence subsequently spread to central Mali, after a predominantly Fulani jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.

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