The German government has suspended its participation in the UN military mission in Mali until further notice, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported. Berlin took the decision on Friday after Malian authorities did not allow a German military plane access to the country’s airspace.
“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,” the German Defence Ministry was quoted by DW of having announced on Twitter.
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht was also quoted to have criticized her counterpart in Mali’s military government, Colonel Sadio Camara, in a statement.
“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 [a type of military cargo helicopter] transport flights until further notice,” Lambrecht was quoted as saying.
The Bundeswehr military reportedly withdrew around 60 soldiers from the country last month amid a similar dispute, when German armed forces were prevented from boarding a civilian flight by Bamako in an act Berlin described at the time as “harassment.”
The Malian transitional government (CNT) seems to even be happy at the German decision as DW reported one of its representatives to have expressed his pleasure at the development.
“I applaud this decision! We have long wished that the security of our territory in the air would be guaranteed exclusively by the Malian armed forces! We’ve always said that, and that’s what we wanted,” Fousseyni Ouattara, deputy chairman of the CNT’s defense committee, told DW.
Not everyone is happy with the decision in Mali as DW reported members of the country’s civil society to have expressed their dismay at the German decision, fearing a deterioration of the security situation in their country. German politicians and experts believe that the withdrawal could lead to other national participants to leave MINUSMA, the international peace mission in Mali.
Mali’s military, which overthrew a civilian government about 15 months ago, has expressed its frustration with the UN peacekeepers’ inability to decisively defeat the Islamist insurgents in the country. The regime is said to suspect that France, which has meanwhile downsized its presence in Mali, was working clandestinely with the insurgents. This frustration led Bamako to invite a Russian military contractor, Wagner Group, late last year into the country, a decision that has not gone down well with Western nations.
MINUSMA was established on 25 April 2013 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2100 to stabilise the country after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012.