EU suspends military exercises after Mora massacre

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Malian soldiers during a training session with a soldier from the European Union Training Mission, at Camp Sévari, near Mopti, Mali, in March 2021.

The European Union has been trying for months to find a solution to maintain a certain presence in Mali, despite the decision of the national authorities to invite the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which arrived in the country at the end of December.

The 27 team has finally decided to suspend the European training missions of the Malian Army and National Guard, while continuing its advisory and education activities. “we stop” to train soldiers, “But we stay” Mali, summarized Monday, April 11, by Josep Borrell, Head of European Diplomacy, on the occasion of the convening of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Union.

Read also: The European Union has suspended its military exercises in Mali, but remains in the Sahel

While meeting in Luxembourg, they took note of this decision, which was adopted last week by the 27 ambassadors to the European Union. A consensus struggled to emerge. Some countries, especially France, wanted to boycott the two missions aimed at rebuilding the Malian armed forces of the EU mission in Mali, and at strengthening the internal security forces of the EU mission in the Sahel region in Mali.

Others, such as Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium or the Czech Republic, wanted to stay or maintain at least Activities in the country, so as not to leave the field open to Russia. An issue that has become crucial at a time when Moscow is challenging global geopolitical balances with the war unleashed on Ukraine.

Since April 2, Malian soldiers and Wagner mercenaries have been accused of a massacre in Mora, in the center of the country. According to Human Rights Watch, nearly 300 civilians, including some suspected jihadists, were executed between March 27 and 31.

Abuses multiply

In this context, the training of the Malian forces has become unthinkable for Europe. Some of these activities were de facto Suspended from the month of March by the leaders of the expedition pending a political decision from the Federation. ‘We had to avoid any risks quickly’ To see soldiers trained by Europeans commit “Human rights violations”Diplomat explains.

The European Union had asked the financial authorities to pledge to avoid any cooperation between Wagner and the forces supervised by the European missions. And the ruling military junta in Bamako demanded in its response that they be kept, a sign seen as positive in Brussels. But the guarantees offered were judged “Insufficient”. However, Europe will continue to educate Malian soldiers The laws of war “. “The military must know that war has the rules of the game.”Josep Borrell explained on Monday

Read also: This article is reserved for our subscribers ‘They didn’t distinguish between jihadists and others’: Malian army accused again of abuses

Europeans insist that this suspension of training activities is ” temporary “ And “evacuation”. But “The observation of the development of the situation is very pessimistic,” He captivates a diplomat, in light of the proliferation of violations and the refusal of the Malian Military Council to organize a return to the polls.

Questions even hover over the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, which Bamako blocked its investigation into Mora. “Should we let her go into the field to check what happened? Or will the Nasamah remain locked up in her barracks? If that’s why it’s not worth staying there”Mr. Borrell explained. German Foreign Minister Annalena Barbock is heading to Mali this week for assessments, as Berlin plans to withdraw its soldiers from the country.

In any case, the EU wants to stay in the Sahel, still suffering from jihadist threats, and spread more to neighboring countries. “But Burkina Faso has just suffered a coup and Niger is not overwhelmed by the idea of ​​strengthening foreign presence.”, notes a diplomat. For their part, the Europeans must redefine their strategy in relation to this key region, in the context of the withdrawal of the French force “Barkhane” and the European task force “Takuba”, which have been unsuccessful.

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