The Dutch mission in Mali is in danger |  the interior

The Dutch mission in Mali is in danger | the interior

Since November last year, the Netherlands has stationed a Hercules transport aircraft in the capital, Bamako, with about ninety soldiers on board. There are also a few Dutch staff officers in Mali, as well as a group of soldiers who support a training mission for the European Union. In addition, the Dutchman, Lieutenant-General Kees Mathiesen, heads the United Nations force in the country, consisting of fifteen thousand soldiers.

‘Worried about developments’

But international missions are in danger of falling apart as Mali’s military regime – which came to power through a coup last year – appears to be turning against foreign forces. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague does not yet want to say anything about the progress of the missions. “We are very concerned about the developments,” a spokesman said. Elections were supposed to take place, but the government extended the transition period to a maximum of five years. That was not the agreement.” The Netherlands is now holding consultations with other countries on the progress of the missions.

Malians last week expelled the French ambassador from the country. The government is angry at the sanctions due to the postponement of the elections. France, which has played a major role in Mali since 2013, is now considering its presence. Denmark last week withdrew all of its special forces after the Malian forces refused entry into the country.

“We believe it is important to maintain dialogue with the government,” the foreign affairs spokesman said. A defense spokesperson stresses that “we want to continue helping the population, and we also want to remain active in the Sahel.” The purpose of the UN mission is to ensure stability and security in North Africa. The French are also fighting extremists in the Sahel.

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This may also be possible from neighboring Niger, where the Netherlands – like the rest of the Western world – maintains warm relations with the government. For example, the Netherlands recently had a full embassy in Niger again. The European Union has concluded agreements with the state on combating immigration to Europe.

“I am less concerned about the progress of the UN mission,” Defense Minister Kajsa Olongren said. I am more concerned about the missions that France is leading. That is why I am in contact with my French colleague.”

Russian mercenaries

The Dutch army in Mali may be in additional danger due to the spread of Russian mercenaries in the country. The financial system will cooperate with the so-called Wagner Group, a kind of “private army” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In this way, Russia wants to increase its influence in the African region, although Russia denies that mercenaries are working for it.

VVD MP Robin Brickelmans asked parliamentary questions about the situation in Mali. “I am concerned about the efficacy, feasibility and security of the mission,” he says. “Can emergency medical facilities still be accessible and can France provide air support?” , wants to know from the cabinet. Minister Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs) may bring a message to Parliament on Mali next week.

The Dutch transport plane Hercules was grounded for a short period last week, because Malians closed the airspace. “This is no longer the case,” the defense spokesman said. “For now, the Dutch can do their homework.”

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