German Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer said Sahel terrorism remained a “great threat.” Her French coounterpart called Mali part of a “security challenge” across Sahel Africa, impinging to ‘the whole of Europe.”
French, British and German defense ministers on Friday insisted their troops would stay assigned to UN and French-led missions in Mali — despite a military coup last Tuesday.
Europe’s “engagement” in the UN’s MINUSMA mission and France’s Operation Barkane since 2012-2013 was “still necessary,” said the host of the tripartite talks, Germany’s Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The anti-jihadist campaigns across the Sahel were “still necessary,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, “because terrorism remains a great threat, including for us here.”
‘Far from over’
French Defense Minister Florence Parly said the Sahel’s “security challenge” also represented a threat for the “whole of Europe” to Africa’s north.
Britain’s Ben Wallace, referring to Mali’s coup, said “stability must be restored.”
The three ministers urged Malian soldiers who led this week’s coup to “return to constitutional order.” Kramp-Karrenbauer echoed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s condemnation of the coup.
Mali’s CNPS junta is headed by Assimi Goita, According to a biography released the day after the coup, he attended elite military schools in Mali and rounded off his training in Gabon, Germany and the US.
Europe’s mission in Mali
Assigned to MINUSMA, begun in 2013, are 13,000 UN “blue helmets,” including currently some 900 German troops stationed mainly in Mali’s restive Gao desert region, where Goita led infantry units from 2002 to 2008.
Since 2018, Britain has had some 100 soldiers assigned to France’s 5,100-strong Operation Barkane, and has agreed to provide 250 British troops to MINUSMA starting this year.
In addition, the European Training Mission in Mali comprises 620 military instructors from 28 European countries, to train and equip Mali’s army and more recently troops of neighboring G5 Sahel nations, including Niger and Chad.
ipj/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters, KNA)