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West Africa - SahelBlog Analysis

Mali sounds the alarm on the agenda of European ambassadors (Maj2)

A C-160 Transall taking off on African terrain - archives (© NGV / Bruxelles2)

(BRUSSELS2) The situation in Mali burst onto the agenda of the 27 COPS ambassadors today as the Sahelian country is experiencing a new crisis, with the advance of rebel and Islamist troops. According to information received by B2, “ no request for military assistance has not yet been made to the European Union by the Malian government, as it was able to do for France (*). But the EU remains alert to the situation. A crisis meeting brings together the main officials concerned from the European diplomatic service (EEAS). And, during the weekend, contact will be maintained with the main partners, in particular African, specifies a European diplomat.

Accelerating support to Mali

« This situation highlights the need for a strengthened and accelerated international commitment to the restoration of stability and State authority throughout Mali, in accordance with Resolution 2085.” said High Representative Catherine Ashton in a statement which has just been published. The preparation of the EUTM Mali mission is not called into question. On the contrary. This had already been said recently (read: EUTM Mali: planning continues more than ever). It's repeated now “The European Union remains determined to support international efforts to protect a democratic government, the rule of law and the territorial integrity of Mali. It will accelerate preparations for the deployment of a military mission to Mali to provide training and advice to Malian forces and it is taking steps to support the rapid deployment of the African Mission led by international support in Mali ( Misma). " (Read : Malian release for the European mission EUTM Mali).

France at the forefront of European support

On the spot, the situation worsened Thursday with the capture of Konna, a few tens of km north of Mopti. Note, however, that several rotations of military transport aircraft, including C-160 (Transall) would have taken place in the town of Sévaré, transporting equipment and men, according to AFP. Some " had white skin according to a worker at Sévaré airport. And a Malian official confirmed to our colleagues the arrival of planes from a "European country". Even if this country is not named, there are not 36 countries which have C160 alias Transall. They are even counted on two fingers (France, Germany) in Europe and two others elsewhere (Turkey, South Africa).

We can deduce that some French forces are already hard at work in the country. But other countries could also lend their support: either logistical (to repatriate nationals or Europeans in the event of a problem), or material, or military. It should be remembered that German cooperation was usually quite active in the country. However, this will require a federal commitment, the authorization of the Bundestag.

Action within the framework of the United Nations

On Thursday, Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traoré, asked " military aid " from France. During his wishes to the diplomatic corps, François Hollande, the French president, specified that France will respond “ strictly within the framework of UN Security Council resolutions to this request. A very ambiguous sentence that should not be interpreted as a non-answer. Because the international framework set by the two resolutions 2071 and 2085 already allows a certain latitude for action. Resolution 2071 invites “ Member States (...) to lend, as soon as possible and in a coordinated manner, to the Malian armed forces and security forces their assistance and their know-how (...) with the aim of restoring the authority of the State throughout the territory, to defend the unity and territorial integrity of Mali and to reduce the threat posed by AQIM and the groups affiliated with it ».

(Maj) François Hollande confirmed on Friday evening that he had decided to respond to Mali's request that French forces were active in Mali " since the afternoon "(which thus confirms the information disseminated by AFP and our analysis) and that they would remain there the " necessary time ».

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).