"UN Security Council Unanimously Decides to End Mali Mission by Year's End"
Mali Mission to End This Year
The military junta in Mali has been seeking to get rid of the approximately 10,000 UN peacekeeping troops in the country for some time. They stated that the mission no longer made sense. Now, the UN Security Council has decided to end the operation.
UN Security Council Decides to End Mission in Mali
The UN Security Council has decided to end the mission in Mali, located in West Africa. After a six-month transition period, the mission will be concluded by the end of the year, as determined by a unanimously adopted resolution in New York.
Dispute Over Drone Flight Rights
In mid-June, Mali's military government demanded the withdrawal of all approximately 12,000 UN peacekeepers. Germany, which had already decided to end its participation in the mission, had planned to withdraw its remaining 1,100 soldiers by May 31, 2024. However, due to increasing disputes with Mali's military government, particularly regarding flight rights for surveillance drones, an earlier withdrawal was also anticipated.
Accusation: Peacekeepers Part of the Problem
Mali's military junta, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, justified the demand for an immediate withdrawal of all UN peacekeepers by stating that the mission no longer served a purpose. In a statement in mid-June, they said, "It is impossible to maintain peace in a situation where there is no peace." They argued that the UN mission had turned its mandate to support Malian authorities into the opposite. Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused the peacekeepers, during a speech at the UN headquarters in New York, of becoming "part of the problem" and called for the mission's "immediate withdrawal."
Spread of Islamists
The UN mission for stabilizing the country has been active in Mali since 2013 when Islamist terrorists overran the northern part of the country on the edge of the Sahara Desert following the collapse of neighboring Libya and a rebellion by the nomadic Tuareg in 2012.
A military intervention by the former colonial power, France, temporarily pushed back the Islamist groups, some of which were allied with terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Since then, these terrorist groups have spread throughout northern and central Mali and its neighboring states.
Military Turns to Russia
In 2020 and 2021, the military seized power in the Sahel country of Mali, with a population of around 23 million, and turned to Russia, expecting more robust assistance against the Islamists.
While the military junta only acknowledges the presence of trainers, estimates suggest that up to 2,000 Russian Wagner mercenaries are active in the country. In response, France ended its military intervention.