UN: Withdrawal of Mali from counter-terrorism forces ‘unfortunate’

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UNITED NATIONS – Sahel, the UN’s top political official for Africa, on Wednesday called Mali’s decision to withdraw from the regional counter-terrorism force “unfortunate and tragic”, especially amid growing terrorist activity and insecurity.

Assistant Secretary-General Martha Poebi told the UN Security Council that the decision to leave Mali’s ruling junta this week was “definitely a step backwards for Sahel.”

The G5 Sahel Force was created in 2014 by Mali and the neighboring West African states of Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad to suppress terrorism in the Sahel, but from the beginning it was plagued by financial and political problems and was not established. Troops until 2017.

Nevertheless, Pubby said that since last November, the force has conducted operations in three of its sectors without the participation of the Malian Battalion.

“It remains to be seen how Mali’s decision to leave the G5 and its joint forces will further affect organization and mobility in the region,” he said.

Pubby noted that over the past five years, the international community, donors and partners have struggled to “reach a consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a joint security response in the Sahel”, which has proved to be a “significant obstacle” to management. G5 ball.

“We need innovative approaches in the face of the ever-evolving tactics of terrorist groups, whose influence is constantly expanding,” he said.

Although all key players acknowledge that “terrorist attacks on the Sahel are a slow-burning deadly threat to international peace and security,” the lack of consensus continues, Pobby said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the chairman of the African Union have agreed to a joint strategic assessment of “Sahel’s security and governance initiatives.” The goal is to “strengthen support for the G5 Sahel, its joint forces and other security and governance initiatives in the region,” he said.

The United States is “concerned by growing violent extremism, terrorist attacks, inter-communal violence, growing food insecurity, and democratic regression in the Sahel,” said U.S. Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills. He described the challenges in the region as “acute”, with a growing number of internally displaced people and people fleeing across the border, as well as civilian deaths.

Mills pointed to three of the G5 governments – Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali – that are “not currently democratically elected or civilian-led” and that there is no clear timeline for a return to constitutional order through free and fair elections.

He lamented that Mali had withdrawn from the G5 coast and said it had further alienated the country from important military operations and territories.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and France have all expressed concern about Mills being called a “new variable of regional instability – a Russian-backed Wagner group.” Those whose mercenaries work in Mali and the Central African Republic are accused of human rights abuses.

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere called Sahel’s situation “extremely worrying”, pointing to millions of people without adequate food and civilians being targeted by terrorist groups. He added that extremists were expanding their threat to Gulf Guinea countries, including eastern Senegal and Togo, which were hit by terrorist attacks last week.

De Riviere said Mali’s withdrawal from the G5 force undermines “regional security architecture”. He added that “we need a plan to improve the situation in the Sahel region… and we have not seen one yet.”

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Anna Ivstigneva agrees that terrorist activity and inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict have not decreased in the Sahel.

He blamed Mali’s decision on pressure from the West, especially France.

“In light of this reality, Mali’s decision towards the G5 Sahel seems to be more plausible because of the conflicting behavior of its neighbors,” Ivstigniva said.

Many neighboring states object to Mali’s ruling junta, which seized power in August 2020. In April, junta leaders said it would take at least two years to transform into a civilian, democratic regime.

Russia is committed to enhancing the capabilities of the armed forces in the region, Ivstigneva said.

At the moment, he said, troops from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad are completing courses at Russian Defense Ministry universities and members of the Malian police are being trained at the educational facilities of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

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