Germany suspends military mission in Mali amid diplomatic tension

The move comes in response to the Malian government’s refusal to give flyover rights to a UN peacekeeping mission.

a German soldier in Mali with German and UN flags
A German soldier patrols the route from Gao to Gossi, Mali [File Seyllou/AFP]

Germany has suspended most of its operations in Mali after the local military-led government denied flyover rights to a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

“The Malian government has once again refused to give flyover rights to a flight planned for today” for the rotation of personnel, a spokesman for the German defence ministry said at a regular news conference on Friday.

In response, Germany had decided to “suspend until further notice the operations of our reconnaissance forces and CH-53 transport flights”.

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Germany was prepared in principle to participate in an international peacekeeping mission, but only if this was supported by the Malian government.

Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht received assurances that overflight rights would be restored from her Malian counterpart Sadio Camara as recently as Thursday.

Mali, with its population of about 20 million, has experienced three military coups since 2012 and is considered extremely unstable.

Since the most recent coup in May 2021, the country has been led by a military transitional government that is said to maintain close relations with Russia.

Ban on foreign troops

Last week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Mali’s government of having “torpedoed time and again” the Bundeswehr’s efforts.

The loss of flyover rights came shortly after Mali banned foreign troops, including those from Germany, from a section of the capital’s airport that houses a UN base.

Germany has been participating in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeping force established to boost security after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012, an early stage of the ongoing armed conflict in the country.

Western powers have been reassessing their commitments to Mali amid hostility from the military government, with France and other European countries recently withdrawing troops involved in counterterrorism operations against armed rebels.

Source: News Agencies