• In a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General last week and circulated on Tuesday, Côte d'Ivoire officials announced that they will not replace their military contingent in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) when the group rotates out in August 2023.[1]
  • This disclosure comes a day after the UK stated that it was withdrawing 300 troops from the peacekeeping force, following other Western nations that have also pulled out from Mali this year, including France. With nearly 18K personnel, MINUSMA is one of the largest UN missions.[2]
  • Côte d'Ivoire, which has been among the top 10 troop contributor nations to MINUSMA, will gradually withdraw and will not carry out troop replacements previously scheduled for October and November. This comes as another African country, Egypt, has pulled troops out of the Sahel country.[3]
  • While no official reason has been given for the decision, diplomatic relations between Abidjan and Bamako have become strained since Mali forces arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers in July on charges of being mercenaries. So far, only three of them have been released.[4]
  • Mali has relied on regional allies and peacekeepers to fight a deadly Islamist insurgency over the past decade, but it has more recently hired and deployed members of the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group mercenaries.[5]
  • Mali's pivot to Russia came after the military ousted an interim civilian government in 2021, which replaced elected Pres. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a year earlier amid anger at his failures to counter insurgents. In August, the last French troops left the country after nearly ten years.[6]


Establishment-critical narrative

The West's moves in resource-rich Mali, and in the entirety of the Sahel, aren't motivated by the fight against jihadist insurgents, the promotion of democracy, or a desire to secure a "rule-based order." Western members of the UN are only concerned with defending their own geostrategic interests — including against Russia. The so-called stabilization mission MINUSMA serves only as a tool for power projection, especially after the end of French neo-colonialism in Mali.

Pro-establishment narrative

Since France withdrew from MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping operation has become increasingly vulnerable to terrorist attacks amid efforts from the Malian junta to stifle it. Meanwhile, Bamako has deepened ties with the infamous Russian private military Wagner Group, deteriorating the situation in the country even more — especially with regard to human rights — and potentially creating a much longer-term problem in the Sahel.

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