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  • The Council had and exchange of views about the situation in Mali.

    Not only the transition authorities in Mali called for the withdrawal of the Barkhane and Takubaforces from the country, but also decided to cooperate with the Russian-affiliated mercenary forces of the Wagner Group, who are notorious for atrocities wherever they have operated.

    The Council confirmed that the EU military training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) cannot become involved in any way in activities that could undermine the reputation of the EU.

    For this reason the High Representative asked in writing for guarantees, that those units that are trained by the EU would not work or cooperate with the Wagner Group. The EU is awaiting a response from the Malian authorities and, in case those guarantees were not granted, the EU would have no choice but to reconsider its presence in Mali.

    In the meantime the EU continues to provide direct financial aid to the population in Mali and the Sahel more broadly, and will extend its support to Burkina Faso and Niger.”


    • Decision time for the EU training mission as credible reports emerge of a massacre in Mali

      Updated / Sunday, 10 Apr 2022 19:4

      The patch of the Bundeswehr and the EUTM Mission is pictured during a shooting class at a training compound in March 2017
      By Colm Ó Mongáin
      Deputy Foreign Editor
      An international human rights organisation says it has received "credible" reports of a massacre of civilians in late March in central Mali by Russian mercenaries and Malian government troops.

      At around 10am on 27 March, helicopters landed in the village of Moura in central Mali and soldiers – some of them white – disembarked.

      The area had been under the partial control of Al-Queda linked Islamist militants. Witnesses who spoke to the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said a group of jihadists was at a market in the village that day.

      A gunfight erupted between about 30 militants and the soldiers who landed. Reinforcements arrived. The village was sealed off and witnesses described summary executions of groups of men by white soldiers and Malian government troops. Security sources cited by HRW say 100 Russians took part in the operation.

      The Malian authorities hailed the operation as counterterrorism success, with over 200 militants killed. Villagers told HRW a very different story, describing how around 300 civilians were killed.

      They told of how hundreds of men were rounded up and made lie in the open in temperatures of up to 40 degrees. They were then taken away in groups of four to 10 over the course of four days and shot. Many of those in the village that day were attending the market as traders.

      A Malian elder from the Mopti region told HRW investigators he was receiving calls from villagers in his area asking about men who have not come home from the Moura market.

      The NGO says it is the worst mass-killing of Mali's decade-long conflict and it believes it was carried out by a combined force of government troops and around 100 Russian mercenaries.

      Units of the Malian army are trained by EU military instructors serving. Twenty members of Ireland’s Defence Forces serve with that mission, providing bomb disposal, urban combat, anti-ambush and human rights training.

      However, two successive coups since August 2020 and the invitation of Russian mercenaries into the country by the ruling junta have changed the circumstances under which the EU trainers are now working. The events of last month complicate matters further.

      The European Union’s foreign service said hundreds of mercenaries from the Wagner Group – a Russian private military company – were in Mali. Speaking to the EU Observer news site in January, a European External Action Service spokesman said: "It is our opinion that this presence will only aggravate the crisis and pose serious risks to human rights."
      Intensified conflict will result in a higher civilian toll.

      The Department of Foreign Affairs reiterated those concerns in a statement to RTÉ this weekend. "The presence of Wagner can only serve to fuel existing tensions, increase instability and violence, and impede MINUSMA's (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) efforts to protect civilians and provide support to the Malian armed forces", a spokesman said.

      The EU has already drawn up sanctions on the private military contractor, which many Western capitals believe has links to the Kremlin. The sanctions relate to Wagner’s activities in Libya, Ukraine and the Central African Republic (CAR).

      The EU suspended its military training mission in the Central African Republic last year due to the presence of Wagner mercenaries, telling Reuters at the time: "We would need the guarantee that the soldiers trained by EUTM are not employed by the Wagner mercenaries. For the moment, we don’t have a response."

      The ruling junta in Mali has had sanctions imposed on it by the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) since seizing power in May 2021. The EU followed suit in January.

      The European Union's mission is now in the position of providing training to soldiers, who could be directed by Russian mercenaries it has sanctioned, on behalf of a government which is also under its sanctions.

      Wagner’s business model in CAR relied on mining concessions in return for its mercenary services. To do likewise in Mali would involve fighting local militias for control of the Mali’s artisanal mines, at the same time as being a target for jihadi militants. Intensified conflict will result in a higher civilian toll.

      An armoured vehicle of the French 93rd Mountain Artillery Regiment in Mali in June 2015
      The adventure will not be cost-free for the mercenaries either. Looking at the numbers, the price of engagement in Mali is high. With a force of over 13,000 soldiers, including 14 members of Ireland’s Army Ranger Wing, the UN peace enforcement mission, MINUSMA, has lost 159 personnel since being deployed in Mali in 2013, making it the deadliest UN mission in the world.

      Between the French-led Operations Serval and Barkhane, which had 5,100 at its peak, 48 troops were killed.

      Despite its concerns over how the Malian government came to power, the EU is reluctant to pull out and leave a vacuum. In early 2022, the union’s representative in the Sahel told the Reuters news agency: "We must continue to dialogue with Mali, because we don't want to isolate Mali, we want a Mali that is capable of overcoming this crisis."

      The EU special representative for the Sahel Emanuela Del Re said the EU had to be "firm on certain principles without closing the door completely".

      How the EU will react to this latest massacre, with the added provocation of Russian involvement, remains to be seen. Mali is on the agenda of a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers tomorrow and events in Moura will form part of those discussions.

      The UN has already demanded access to the site of killings to establish the facts of what happened in Moura between 27 March and 31 March. Ireland has backed this call.

      In a statement last Thursday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: "We call on the Malian transitional authorities to immediately grant unfettered, timely and safe access to MINUSMA so that it may conduct a full investigation into the incident, as it is mandated to do by the United Nations Security Council.

      "Any findings of such an investigation must be made public and action taken to ensure the protection of civilians."

      A UN policeman escorts an armoured car of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali
      Its envoy for the Sahel El-Ghassim Wane said he welcomed word from Mali that a military tribunal had opened an investigation into the events in Moura. MINUSMA also welcomed the development in a separate statement.

      However, he added that it is "imperative that the Malian authorities extend the necessary cooperation for MINUSMA to have access to the site of the alleged violations, in line with its mandate".

      MINUSMA has opened 17 investigations into allegations of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial arrests and killings, mistreatment and forced disappearances in central Mali since the beginning of this year.

      If another investigation corroborates what HRW has been told, the EU will have grounds to revisit its decision to stay.

      A background to conflict

      Aerial view of Mali's capital Bamako
      In 2012, Tuareg mercenaries who had fought for Muammar Gaddafi returned home from Libya after the dictator was toppled with NATO help. They mounted an insurgency with militant jihadists, including Al Quaida affiliates, and routed the national army. The defeat triggered a coup in the capital.

      France intervened the following year, providing troops and air cover and helped the new government’s forces wrestle back control of a large swathes of territory from the insurgents.

      More European troops – including small Irish deployments - would arrive on various EU and UN missions in the years that followed.

      A UN Security Council resolution in 2013 established the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

      Ireland, deployed troops to train the Malian army as part of an EU mission.

      Up to this year, France also maintained several thousand troops with Operation Barkhane, the counterinsurgency operation

      The World Bank estimated in 2020 over 3,500 people had been killed in the conflict since 2012.

      Around two million people have been displaced.

      EU Dilemma After Reports of Mali Massacre by Russians (
      For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


      • No matter what the EU and UN do they are damned in Mali it would appear


        • Meanwhile Russia is intent on bringing their local conflict to other continents.
          This was always going to happen, once the russian contractors got involved.
          For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


          • EU halting military training in Mali but staying in Sahel

            The EU is shutting down a mission on which Irish troops have been serving for almost a decade.

            Speaking to the media in Brussels today, Europe's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU had decided to halt its military training missions in Mali but would keep a presence in the Sahel.

            Mr Borrell, who is Europe's top diplomat, said: "We are halting the training missions for the (Malian) armed forces and national guard," but added: "The Sahel remains a priority. We're not giving up on the Sahel, far from it. We want to commit even more to that region."

            The announcement comes after mounting concerns over the role of Russian mercenaries in Mali.

            The NGO Human Rights Watch raised concerns over the deaths of around 300 civilians in the village of Moura in late March.

            It said it had received credible reports of groups of men being summarily executed by armed Russians and Malian government troops.

            The EU and UN called for an independent investigation into the alleged massacre.

            The presence of the Wagner Group private military security company in Mali has been a cause of concern to the EU since they were invited to help fight Islamist militants by the country's ruling junta.

            Ireland has provided troops to the EU's military training mission in Mali since 2013. They provide training to Malian recruits in bomb disposal, urban combat, anti-ambush tactics and human rights.

            The presence of Russian mercenaries alongside - or in command of - Malian soldiers has given rise to concerns among EU governments.

            Last Saturday on a visit to Mali, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht questioned whether training soldiers was compatible with respect for human rights.

            "We see that Malian soldiers are being trained in a tremendous way by highly motivated and skilled German soldiers, and then they go on missions with these capabilities, for example with Russian forces, even with mercenaries," the minister said.

            "And the question then arises of whether this can be compatible with our values, especially if we then have to witness atrocities like in Moura," she said.


            • Run away. Run far away and stay away and make a point of filtering out any Malian ex soldier that attempts to enter Europe. If they want to get into bed with Russians, then on their own head be it.



                France's naked colonial self interest strikes again...
                "It is a general popular error to imagine that loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for it's welfare" Edmund Burke



                  Doubts arise about future role of Defence Forces in troubled Mali mission

                  State committed to training operation ‘at least for the moment’, says Department of Defence


                  • Spin.Decision already made. Trainers formed up for next trip have been stood down, HQ and Logs appointments still going ahead.
                    "Let us be clear about three facts. First, all battles and all wars are won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman always bears the brunt. His casualties are heavier, he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm." ------- Field Marshall Wavell, April 1945.


                    • Mali orders suspension of U.N. peacekeeping mission rotations


                      2 minute read


                      Members of MINUSMA Chadian contingent play petanque in Kidal, Mali December 19, 2016. MINUSMA/Sylvain Liechti handout via REUTERS

                      DAKAR, July 14 (Reuters) - Mali's military-led government said on Thursday it was temporarily suspending troop rotations by the U.N. peacekeeping mission MINUSMA, days after arresting 49 soldiers from Ivory Coast who it said had arrived in the country without permission.

                      Mali's ruling junta, which seized power in an August 2020 coup, has repeatedly butted heads with many of its traditional partners following sanctions and condemnation over election delays and its security cooperation with Russian mercenaries.

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                      When the U.N. Security Council renewed MINUSMA's mandate last month, Malian authorities vowed to defy U.N. calls to allow freedom of movement for peacekeepers to investigate human rights abuses.

                      The suspension of troop rotations for the nearly 12,000-strong mission will remain in place until Malian officials can organise a meeting with MINUSMA representatives to discuss coordination between the two sides, Mali's foreign ministry said in a statement.

                      The United Nations called for an "urgent settlement" after the suspension was announced and said it was ready for immediate discussions to resolve the matter.

                      "Rotation of contingents is crucially important for the mission's operational effectiveness and the safety and security of personnel," deputy U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in New York, adding that some of the affected staff should have been relieved several months ago.

                      The Ivorian troops were arrested after arriving on Sunday at the capital Bamako's international airport. Mali's junta said the soldiers would be considered mercenaries and charged as such. read more

                      Ivory Coast says the soldiers were deployed as part of a security and logistics support contract signed with the mission in 2019 and that they were the eighth rotation sent to Mali under the convention.

                      A MINUSMA spokesman initially confirmed this information, but a U.N. spokesman in New York later said no Ivorian troops had been deployed under the convention.

                      Mali is struggling to rein in an Islamist insurgency, which took root after an uprising in 2012 and has since spread to neighbouring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions across West Africa's Sahel region.
                      Mali orders suspension of U.N. peacekeeping mission rotations | Reuters
                      For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


                      • #airlift


                        • Originally posted by DeV View Post
                          #Luftwaffe #AAE
                          For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


                          • Ireland pulls troops out of Mali as Russian mercenary group moves in | Ireland | The Times
                            For now, everything hangs on implementation of the CoDF report.


                            • So not pulling out but significantly reduced


                              • Originally posted by DeV View Post

                                So not pulling out but significantly reduced
                                Withdrawing from MINUSMA and downsizing in EUTM.