Mali pulls out of defense accords with France — Analysis

The West African nation’s government cited “flagrant violations” of Mali’s sovereignty by the former colonial ruler

The Malian authorities declared on Monday that the country is pulling out of the existing defense accords with France, citing “flagrant violations” of its sovereignty by French forces deployed in Mali.

Paris had been repeatedly warned by the military government of Bamako that they could cease military cooperation between them.

In a televised address on Monday, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga explained the move by saying: “For some time, the Republic of Mali regrets a serious decline in military cooperation with France.” Among other things, Maiga mentioned France’s decision to end joint operations with the Malian military last June, as well as Macron’s announcement in February that Paris was withdrawing its troops.

He went on to cite several cases of what he described as violations of Mali’s sovereignty by French forces.

In April, Bamako claimed that French drones had violated Mali’s airspace to spy on its military dozens of times since the start of the year.

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Although officials from Bamako claimed that they had informed Paris Monday afternoon of their decision, the French government has not yet responded.

Since August 2020, when Mali’s military government took power in West Africa, relations between France and Mali has steadily declined.

France, which ruled Mali from the late 19th century until 1960, has accused the new government of creating “Multiple obstacles” that effectively prevented the continuation of a joint counter-terrorism operation in the country involving the French contingent.

Officially canceled by the Malian government in 2013, these agreements date back to 2013-14. Operation Serval was launched in Mali by Paris in 2013. A year later it was replaced by the larger Operation Barkhane, aimed at tackling insurgency in the whole of the Sahel region, which – besides Mali – spans Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mauritania.

Announcing the troop withdrawal in mid-February, President Emmanuel Macron said that “victory against terror is not possible if it’s not supported by the state itself,” suggesting that officials in Bamako were no longer interested in fighting Islamists. French leaders also stressed that they did not consider Paris’ pullout to be an admission of defeat.

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