France stops its cooperation with the Malian army. The Takuba task force stopped in its tracks

(B2) France has decided to suspend its cooperation with the Malian army, whether at the operational or advisory level, in order to protest against the military coup, Armed Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday (June 3). end of the evening

The French announcement means a ‘stop’ to the Takuba task force. Nice pictures like this one with the French (F. Parly), Estonian (K. Laanet) and Czech (L. Metnar) defence ministers visiting Mali (credit: MOD Czech Republic)

A warning to the military junta in Bamako

This message sent to some journalists, in an unofficial communiqué (1), has three elements :

  • Demands and red lines have been set by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and the African Union to clarify the framework of the political transition in Mali. It is up to the Malian authorities to respond quickly.
  • Pending these guarantees, France, after informing its partners and the Malian authorities, has decided to suspend, on a temporary basis, joint military operations with the Malian forces as well as national advisory missions on their behalf.
  • These decisions will be re-evaluated in the coming days in the light of the answers provided by the Malian authorities.

European missions continue

The European Union has so far decided to continue the advisory and training missions of its mission (EUTM Mali) to train the FAMA, the Malian armed forces, as well as those dedicated to the internal security forces (EUCAP Sahel Mali). The EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, confirmed this? at the end of the informal meeting of Defence Ministers last Friday (28 May) in Lisbon. (Read : Coup d’État au Mali. Les Européens condamnent. La mission EUTM Mali continue).

… but the situation is being closely monitored, and the posture will be adopted accordingly

Today, after the French announcement, caution seems to be the order of the day. “The two CSDP missions, which have a non-executive mandate and are not involved in joint operations, are closely following the evolution of the situation and adapting their posture accordingly. The next steps will depend on the evolution of the situation on the ground,” Nabila Missrali, spokesperson for the EU High Representative, told to B2 on Friday.

NB: The EUTM Mali mission is currently led by a Spanish general, Fernando Gracia Herreiz, who will be replaced by a German general, Jochen Deuer, by 7 July. Both are members of the Eurocorps, the European Corps, based in Strasbourg.

Some comments

A second coup very badly accepted by Paris

We can notice the speed of decision between the announcement of the coup on Monday (24 May), the first warning shot given by President Macron in an interview with the “Journal du dimanche” last weekend, and this announcement of the stop. The first had been perceived by several European and French officials with a kind of relief, finally. Because it put an end to a certain immobility and a certain sluggishness of the Malian central power. This second coup, in less than a year, led by Colonel Goïta, is much less well perceived. If the method of the military coup is condemned, one can see the double standards between this coup in Mali and what must be called a coup in Chad.

The nomination of Maïga and the Malian quagmire

What seems to trouble the Élysée is the proximity of certain soldiers to Islamic environment. The announcement of the nomination of Choguel Maïga, the president of the strategic committee of the M5-RFP (Movement of the 5th of June-Rassembly of Patriotic Forces), reputedly close to the conservative imam Mahmoud Dicko, as Prime Minister, does not exactly delight the Elysée. And this announcement looks as much like a ‘political summons’ against this nomination as against the authors of the coup.

The fear of a “green on blue attack” and the Malian quagmire

From a strictly military point of view, one could also fear of “green on blue attack” in the event that a Malian soldier in operation or in training suddenly turns his weapons against his French military comrades. This is known in NATO terminology as ‘green on blue’ attacks. A very common practice during the engagement in Afghanistan, more rare in Mali. For the French, Mali is definitely beginning to resemble the Afghanistan of the Americans, a small quagmire where it is easy to get stuck. Advancing further is difficult, retreating is complicated, staying put is risky…

The suspension of the Takuba Task Force or its end ?

At the European level, this decision is a blow to the Takuba Task Force. This task force, which combines French and European special forces with Malian forces to operate in the tri-border area in Mali, must also stop its operations. It could even be a fatal blow if the decision is prolonged. Many European countries were already reluctant to get involved in the Malian quagmire, in an operation set up, led and directed by France, without any real control either by an international organisation (NATO, European Union…) or a parliamentary mechanism. This suspension, which was necessary, shows the fragility of a mechanism that is neither truly national nor truly European.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. A message sent by a What’s app network to some journalists does not meet the terminology of an official communiqué. In a rather bizarre way, the communication of the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, led by Grégoire Devaux, chose to proceed with this communication only to certain media and not others. This is contrary to all the rules in use and very surprising to say the least.

Nicolas Gros-Verheyde

Rédacteur en chef du site B2. Diplômé en droit européen de l'université Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne et auditeur 65e session IHEDN (Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale. Journaliste depuis 1989, fonde B2 - Bruxelles2 en 2008. Correspondant UE/OTAN à Bruxelles pour Sud-Ouest (auparavant Ouest-France et France-Soir).