EU Training Mission in Mali Ends Mandate After 11 Years

The European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali has concluded its operations after 11 years in the country, following a discussion with Malian authorities, the mission’s website states.

What You Need to Know:

Beginning its mission in the country in 2013, the EUTM Mali’s mandate sought to “assist the Malian Armed Forces in restoring their military capacity through the provision of advice, education, and training.” Upon its exit, the mission had trained 20,000 soldiers. EUTM Mali maintained two strategic objectives, the first being to “contribute to improving the operational capacity of the Malian Armed Forces under the control of Mali’s legitimate civilian authorities, and the second, to “support the G5 Sahel through making its Joint Force and the national armed forces in the G5 Sahel countries operational.”

However, the wave of coups which swept the nations of the Sahel in recent years led to the disintegration of the G5’s joint anti-jihadist operations. Mali left the alliance in June 2022, with Burkina Faso and Niger following suit in 2023. Following the departure of Burkina Faso and Niger, the remaining members, Chad and Mauritania, announced their decision to “take note and respect the sovereign decision” of the two countries.

Furthering the isolation of the ‘Sahel Troika’ was the announcement in late January that the three nations intended to withdraw from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), after the economic bloc placed sanctions on the three states in an attempt to force a transition to civilian rule. While announcing their withdrawal from ECOWAS, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali announced the creation of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), a security alliance that aims to address the region’s deteriorating security environment.

Then, in early March, Moussa Salau Barma, Chief of Staff for the Nigerien Armed Forces, announced the AES’s creation of a joint anti-terrorist force, claiming the force will begin “functioning as soon as possible to address security concerns.”

However, according to Armed Conflict Location and Event (ACLED) data, jihadist violence in the Sahel, where Russia is now the region’s main ally, has skyrocketed. According to the Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker, violent extremism in the Sahel has increased by 20% compared to 2023 data. To date, 50 percent of the 23,322 total reported fatalities have occurred in the Sahel. The unofficial deployment of Wagner forces (now renamed as the Africa Corps) has also led to an increase in civilian deaths.

In its closing statement on X, posted on May 18th, EUTM Mali declared it will continue to support Mali “here and from Europe.” The day after, Mali’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the conclusion of the fourth meeting between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Alliance of Sahel States, which was held in the Nigerien capital of Niamey. “The concretization of legal documents that will be submitted [for] the adoption of the heads of state of the Alliance for the creation of a confederation that will address social and economic challenges, diplomatic and space security,” the Ministry said in a video posted to X.

Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Foreign Minister speaking at the meeting in Niamey, said, “today, fear has changed sides. I would like to reaffirm Mali’s unwavering commitment towards the Alliance of Sahel States, but also total determination of our country with [concrete] works with our brothers and sisters from Burkina Faso and Niger for a better future.”

So, What Now?:

What the Alliance means for the future of the three Sahel nations is yet to be seen, although data indicates that although Russia positions itself as a key defense ally in the region, Islamic militants continue to make gains. Furthermore, it is not yet clear what economic policies the Alliance intends to follow, with Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso home to large impoverished populations, sitting at a poverty rate of 45.7%, 47.5%, and 40.1% respectively.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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