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Britain Announces Withdrawal of Troops From Mali Precociously, Blaming Bamako for Its Decision

© AP Photo / Jerome DelayFrench Barkhane force soldiers who wrapped up a four-month tour of duty in the Sahel leave their base in Gao, Mali, June 9, 2021.
French Barkhane force soldiers who wrapped up a four-month tour of duty in the Sahel leave their base in Gao, Mali, June 9, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.11.2022
In December 2020, Britain sent 300 troops to Mali to join Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a multinational force aimed at bolstering Sahel nation, which has suffered from a jihadist insurgency for more than a decade. It was originally intended that Britain would stay in Mali for three years.
Britain has indicated that it would withdraw its 300 troops from Mali six months earlier than planned, British Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey stated. They are part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Africa.
He also claimed that “that responsibility for all of this sits in Bamako,” blaming the country for "making it so difficult for well-meaning nations to remain there."
The minister also stated that the Malian government doesn’t want to collaborate with his country in terms of security.
“Mr Speaker, this Government cannot deploy our nation’s military to provide security when the host country’s Government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security,” Heappey pointed out.
African Union peacekeepers from Uganda provide security as Somali lawmakers arrive to cast their vote in the presidential election, at the Halane military camp in Mogadishu, Somalia Sunday, May 15, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.11.2022
UN Identifies ‘Best Response’ to Terrorism Threat in Africa
He also made it clear that despite the persuasion of the British, the Malian government has refused to cooperate with them.
“Mr Speaker, we should be clear that responsibility for all of this sits in Bamako… On my most recent visit last November, I met with the Malian Defence Minister and implored him to see the huge value of the French-led international effort in his country,” Heappey indicated.
For more than 10 years, Mali has been fighting terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda* and Daesh*. The jihadist insurgency kicked off in the Sahel region, where Mali is situated, after NATO intervened in Libya and the country's president Muammar Gaddafi was violently killed in 2011. Experts said that Gaddafi was able to control the opposing forces in Sahel, and therefore managed to prevent the spread of terrorism in the region, including in Mali.
The UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, was first deployed to Mali “to stabilize” the country in 2013. In 2020, British troops arrived in Gao, in eastern Mali, to join the UN troops for three years, until the British presence was halted this week.
Commenting on the outcomes of the UN operation in September, Mali's Prime Minister Abdoulaye Maiga stated that "nearly 10 years after its establishment, the objectives for which MINUSMA was deployed in Mali have not been achieved.”
The UK's announcement follows France's decision to fully end its operation Barkhane in Mali in early November after announcing a withdrawal of troops from the country in August.
The withdrawal of French forces were accompanied with accusations by Mali's government that the French were assisting terrorists instead of fighting them.
"The government of Mali has several pieces of evidence that these flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect intelligence for the benefit of terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition on them,” Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stated in a letter to the United Nations Security Council.
Meanwhile, a wave of anti-French and anti-UN protests recently swept across the Sahel.
In particular, protests against UN peacekeepers erupted in Mali's capital city of Bamako on September 22. A large crowd of protestors waving Malian flags and chanting anti-UN slogans marched through the streets. Many of the protesters carried Russian flags.
On May 14, Malians demonstrated in Bamako, calling for withdrawal of French troops from their country.
In late September, anti-French protests took place in Niger, where French troops were relocated from Mali after the August withdrawal.
In May, Chadians demonstrated against French troops in their country, chanting “Chad is Free and France is out.”
In November 2021, Burkinabe and Nigerians stoned and blocked a large French military supply convoy on its way from Ivory Coast to Mali, yelling anti-French slogans.
In deciding to withdraw forces from Mali, France and the UK were joined by Germany, Canada and Sweden.
*Al-Qaeda and Daesh are terrorist organizations outlawed in Russia and many other states
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