Wednesday January 12, 2022
Check heavier armament
FDP politician warns against a quick withdrawal from Mali
The Bundeswehr is involved in missions in Mali with around 1,350 soldiers. But the situation in the West African crisis state is becoming more unstable, and the German deployment is increasingly controversial. Now FDP security expert Strack-Zimmermann warns of a quick retreat and Russian influence.
The chairman of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, has warned against a quick end to the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the West African crisis state of Mali. The consequences of such a step would have to be considered, said the FDP politician. A heavier armament to protect the soldiers must also be examined. In Mali, the Bundeswehr is involved in the UN Minusma mission and the EU training mission EUTM.
“We have light to moderately heavy equipment there. We were always told that it was enough. But if the air becomes more lead-laden, do we have to relocate the boxer under certain circumstances to protect our people? That has to be clarified,” demanded Strack – Carpenter looking at the armored car of the Bundeswehr. “When we are in such a region with all these complex interrelationships, the Bundeswehr must be optimally equipped.”
At the beginning of January, the Armed Forces Commissioner Eva Högl asked for the Bundeswehr’s involvement in Mali to be checked for a possible end. “We have to analyze it ruthlessly. And then this option should also be on the table,” said the SPD politician. However, “what our realistic goals are” must be agreed with the international partners. Germany should play an active role in this and present an honest interim report.
Concern about the influence of Russia
Mali has seen three military coups since 2012 and is politically extremely unstable. Because the interim government refused to hold new elections soon, the West African community of states, ECOWAS, imposed strict sanctions on Mali. All borders with the member country should be closed, all non-vital trade relations and all financial resources in Mali should be frozen at the ECOWAS central bank, a statement said on Sunday. Sharp criticism came from the EU and Mali was accused of having brought Russian mercenaries into the country.
“The question is what happens when we go out? Are the Russians spreading out to fill the vacuum? Even major unrest and thus large refugee movements are not in Europe’s interest,” said Strack-Zimmermann. “It is very important to me that the consequences are also discussed. Either way. What happens if Germany, and possibly other Europeans too, withdraw?” She recalled that the Russian mercenary company Wagner was also present in other African countries. “Well, it’s not that much of a surprise in Mali. If you rub your eyes now: good morning,” she said.
The western states should not shrink from this. Strack-Zimmermann: “If you want to have an influence on the ground, you have to be there. So we can’t sit in the warm here in Berlin and tell them what to do.” The Bundeswehr is deployed in Mali with a good 1,350 soldiers. The former French colony with its 20 million inhabitants has been troubled by Islamist terrorist groups for years. The current mandates for the mission expire at the end of May.
With a view to discussions about an extension, Defense State Secretary Siemtje Möller called for elections in Mali to be held soon. “Now it is important that the Malian transitional government clearly states how the elections will continue and with whom they want to work,” said the SPD politician of the “Rheinische Post”. “Our decision also depends on that.” Postponing the elections by five years is unacceptable to the federal government. “There must be elections as soon as possible, we insist on that.”
At the end of the year, the rulers in Mali rejected allegations by Western governments that they had brought mercenaries from the Russian company Wagner into the country. However, the interim government admitted that there are Russian trainers in the country.