The United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali has announced the acceleration of its withdrawal from a base located in the northern part of the country.
This decision comes as a response to the deteriorating security conditions in the region.
The MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) force’s departure from the Ber base follows an incident where the Malian army reported the deaths of six soldiers and the killing of 24 fighters from “armed terrorist groups” in a skirmish that occurred in the area.
Tensions and Confrontations in the Area
Former rebels from the Tuareg ethnic group have also claimed that both the Malian army and the Russian mercenary group Wagner launched an attack on their forces in the Ber region.
The situation prompted MINUSMA to move up its withdrawal from the area due to heightened security risks for their personnel.
The mission issued a statement on Twitter, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could further complicate the situation.
MINUSMA’s Departure and Ongoing Dynamics
The specifics regarding the number of troops involved in the withdrawal and the original departure date were not provided.
A senior local security official informed AFP that MINUSMA had successfully left the Ber base, which is now under full occupation by the Malian army.
The junta, which has been in control of Mali since 2020, had previously urged the UN Security Council to initiate the withdrawal of MINUSMA by the year’s end.
However, the junta has not publicly reacted to this recent development.
Background and Ongoing Tensions
MINUSMA’s mission began in 2013, in response to separatist and jihadist rebellions that had erupted in northern Mali the previous year. With approximately 11,600 troops and 1,500 police officers, the mission played a significant role in stabilizing the region.
Nevertheless, its impending withdrawal has intensified tensions between the junta and the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), an alliance of Tuareg-dominated groups seeking autonomy or even independence from the Malian state.
This situation highlights the complex dynamics within the country.
Tensions and Strained Relations
The CMA criticized the Malian army for its determination to occupy the holdings of MINUSMA, including those located in areas under CMA control, a move seen as a violation of a 2015 peace agreement.
The relationship between the junta and the former rebels has further frayed due to the military’s approval of a new constitution in June, which the CMA believes compromises the existing peace agreement.
Additionally, the junta’s relations with France have deteriorated, leading to a shift towards seeking support from Russia.
Worsening Security Crisis and Broader Implications
The security crisis that initially gripped northern Mali in 2012 has since spread to other parts of the country, as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
The deepening security concerns highlight the complex challenges facing the region and underscore the ongoing efforts required to stabilize Mali and its surrounding areas.
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