The security situation in Mali is deteriorating, France is withdrawing in the dispute, Germany is strengthening the UN mission. The Bundestag extends the military commitment – despite unresolved issues.

The Bundestag has given the green light for the UN stabilization mission Minusma in the West African crisis state of Mali to be expanded to up to 1,400 German soldiers.

On the other hand, the participation in the EU training mission EUTM as a reaction to tensions after the military coup in the country itself should be practically ended and given a focus on neighboring Niger, as the MPs in Berlin decided. After the French pulled out of Mali, however, several questions remained unresolved, including the continued protection of men and women with attack helicopters.

That is why there is a withdrawal clause in the German Minusma mandate: “If a sufficient level of care and protection for German soldiers can no longer be guaranteed during the mandate period, measures to adjust the German contribution must be taken up to and including the end of the mission.”

Negotiations on protection from the air

Traffic light coalition politicians pointed out that negotiations over protection from the air were ongoing. Germany itself has the Tiger combat helicopter. Of 51 models, however, only 9 are ready for use, which are planned for national and alliance defense purposes in Europe. The Bundeswehr does not yet have armed drones after the SPD blocked this in the coalition with the Union, but has now corrected this course.

The situation in Mali is complex, sometimes muddled and is described as “multidimensional”: The number of attacks and attacks has risen steadily. With a view to Islamic terrorist groups and refugee movements, however, it is also about Europe’s security policy interests. The former colonial power France is ending its involvement in Mali and recently met with great rejection there. However, the Malian putschist government is also at odds with other Western states after allowing Russian mercenaries to be deployed in the fight against terrorists. However, it enjoys support far into civil society, which sees security as the most urgent task.

“Freedom can only develop from security,” said Merle Spellerberg (Greens) as the first speaker in the Bundestag debate. In talks with the country’s civil society, it became clear that democratic elections and criticism of the military coup are not high on the agenda, but security is.

“Germany the only major European nation at Minusma”

The CSU defense politician Florian Hahn put his finger in the wound for the opposition. The security situation is deteriorating and is precarious. “Due to the French withdrawal, the aforementioned capability gaps arise, and after the withdrawal of other partners, Germany remains as the only major European nation at Minusma,” he noted. A perspective with clear goals is not to be seen. “The vacuum created by the French withdrawal will probably be quickly filled by non-state and terrorist actors in the contested areas.”

The Union agreed to the mandates in the overall view of the situation, spokesmen for the AfD and the left argued against it. 541 MPs voted for the new Minusma mandate, 103 voted against and 4 abstained. 551 MEPs voted in favor of the EUTM extension, 105 against and one abstention. As part of EUTM, German commandos in Niger – a neighboring country to Mali – are training local forces to fight terrorism and armed gangs.

A number of armed groups are active in Chad, Niger and other Sahel countries. Some have sworn allegiance to the Al Qaeda terrorist network or the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia. A French military operation prevented radical Islamists from taking power in Mali in 2013. The Bundeswehr took part in operations in France’s wake, but not directly in the French anti-terrorist fight.