Malian Government Seizes Kidal After UN Withdrawal, With Wagner Support

As this publication reported over the past two weeks, United Nations peacekeepers under MINUSMA completed a “rapid withdrawal” from Northern Mali. During those withdrawals, JNIM targeted the large convoy, injuring dozens in IED attacks and bombings.

Now that UN peacekeepers have evacuated their bases near Kidal, the Malian government, with the aid of Wagner Group has seized a key Northern Malian city, Kidal, which has effectively been under National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Ansar Dine control since 2012.

When UN peacekeepers fled the Kidal base, MNLA commanders claimed that the UN was demonstrating the “respect of the international community for the cause of Azawad.” However, it now seems that the Mali government, with Wagner support has taken a gloves off approach and has pushed the group out of Kidal.

At approximately 1530 EST on November 13th, 2023, the Malian Armed Forces announced they had begun operations on the outskirts of Kidal against militant groups.

By 1730 EST, the Malian Interim President claimed the MAF had seized the city. The presidential portal made this announcement:

The Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces began his message by emphasizing that this progress results from the application of United Nations resolution 2690 (2023), also thanking Allah for the success of the operation. He highlighted the exceptional courage and determination of the FAMa during an intense raid carried out in recent days, inflicting significant losses on armed terrorist groups.

President GOÏTA insisted, however, that the mission was not completed. He recalled the continued commitment to recover and secure the integrity of the territory.

The President of the Transition paid tribute to the civilian and military victims while recalling that this operation aims exclusively to safeguard the national unity and indivisibility of Mali, as well as the fight against terrorism to ensure the security of the territory.”

By 1246 EST on November 14th, 2022, the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups, said in a statement that it had withdrawn from Kidal “for strategic reasons” after having “for several days halted (the army’s) advance by inflicting great human and material losses”. “The fight continues,” the group said.

Pictures taken of the Malian force, as well as TG posts by Belarusian fighters confirm that Wagner troops aided in the assault.

The Interim Burkina Faso government immediately congratulated the Malian Armed Forces on their military victory. Since August 2023, the Algiers agreement has been discarded by the CMA, which is the parent conglomerate group of the Northern Mali militant groups, and the Malian government. Fighting near Ber, the Malian Coup, and UN withdrawal has exacerbated the fighting and emboldened the Malian government to make this incursion. However, it is also important to note that in 2012, the Malian government lost control of the Northern portion of the country and it is not clear if even with Wagner support, it can maintain control in places like Kidal.

Tessaron
Tessaron
United States Military Academy and American Military University Alumni. Victor covers flash military, intelligence, and geo-political updates.

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