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mali. No European soldiers engaged alongside the French (Maj)

(BRUSSELS2) The presence of European military elements alongside the French during the counter-offensive in Sédaré was firmly denied by the Minister of Defense today responding to a question from B2. “ It is a bilateral operation between France and Mali, a response from France to a request for relief from the Malian government. There is no involvement of any other force. » If there was any doubt, he repeated this assertion in relation to German participation. Le Figaro reported yesterday on German troops, attaching to the article a graphic clearly showing the German flag. An article which had caused trouble in Berlin, as my colleague Thomas Wiegold (from augengeradeaus). The “answer is very clear, it’s no”. On the other hand, what he perfectly confirmed was the coordination, on a political level, with the other capitals. “I had a meeting yesterday with my German, British, Spanish and Italian colleagues. They all gave me full political support. But what we do, we do (at the national level)”.

Be careful not to confuse

Apparently there seems to be a certain confusion among some of my colleagues between the French offensive operation (Serval) and the European training mission of the Malian army (EUTM Mali) which is currently being prepared. If certain “precursor” elements (a few officers responsible for preparing the mission) have already arrived on site in Bamako according to our information, this European mission (in which France is participating) has a long-term objective – to reconstitute the Malian army – and has no direct action on the ground. The French operation has a shorter-term objective: to contain the northern forces, and push them back, to secure all the Malian towns in the south (while waiting for reinforcements from ECOWAS). Read also: Mali: three operations in one

technical cooperation

Despite everything, it does not seem that the French acted completely alone. They seem to have benefited from technical cooperation, particularly from the United States, as officers confirmed to us half-heartedly. But " it is up to the Americans (or those who participated) to confirm it. It is not up to the French minister to do it” explained an expert of the file.

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).