Army ends its deployment in Takuba, EUTM and MINUSMA missions continue
French troops, including their European partners and Canada, will withdraw from Mali. They are ending their participation in Operation Barkhane and Mission Takuba, which were designed to train Malian special forces and help in the fight against terrorism. The reason for the withdrawal is deteriorating diplomatic relations with Mali's ruling junta, AFP reported, citing a recent joint statement by the countries. The Czech Republic will also withdraw its troops operating in Mali as part of the Takuba mission, Defence Minister Jana Černochová recently confirmed.
The coup has created different conditions in the country, and the so-called Wagner army is operating and increasingly engaged in the country. These are mercenaries, mostly from Russia, who have close ties to the Kremlin. They have established cooperation with the Malian Government and it seems that the junta there is continuing to extend their influence.
"Due to numerous obstacles from the Malian transitional government, Canada and European states operating alongside (French) Operation Barkhane and within the Takuba mission judge that conditions there are no longer commensurate with the current military commitment to fighting terrorism in Mali. They have therefore decided to launch a coordinated withdrawal of the troops concerned from Malian territory," reads a statement released by the Elysee Palace. At the same time, however, the countries want to remain in the region, especially in Niger and the Gulf of Guinea states. More details should be known by June 2022.
"Task Force Takuba is largely based on cooperation with the French armed forces. So it was clear that any continuation would depend on their decision. The withdrawal from Takuba does not change the fact that security in the Sahel and support for its stability remains important for the Czech Republic and the European Union," Minister Černochová stressed.
The reduction in the number of troops in Mali does not affect the European Union Training Mission EUTM or the UN-led MINUSMA mission, where the Czech involvement continues and is not linked to French partners.
The main task of the EUTM mission is to help build and train the Malian army so that it will be able to independently counter attacks by armed terrorist groups and ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country in the future. It is also intended to support the construction of the recently created G5 Sahel Joint Force (Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad). The current mandate foresees the deployment of up to 120 troops within the EUTM and is valid for the years 2021 and 2022. It is expected to resume command in the second half of 2022.
The mission of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is to support and implement the peace process, provide security and create conditions for humanitarian and political assistance to the Malian government. The establishment of the mission was decided by UN Security Council Resolution 2100 of 25 April 2013. The mandate of the mission is reviewed and extended annually by the UN Security Council. The mandate for the deployment of members of the Armed Forces in the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is up to 15 persons for the period 2021-2022.
The withdrawal of troops from Task Force Takuba will be gradual and will first have to be planned in detail. The military will proceed as soon as possible, but this is a process that will take weeks to months.
The protection and security of Europe remains a long-term objective for the Czech Army in foreign missions. The decision to withdraw troops from the Takuba group does not mean the end of the Czech Republic's engagement in the region. Soldiers continue to operate in two other operations in Mali, namely the European Union's non-combat training mission (EUTM) and the UN mission (MINUSMA). Preparations for the Czech command of the EUTM force in the second half of 2022 are also ongoing.