Cooperation with Mali: EU resumes military mission

The EUTM Mali training mission, which was suspended due to the military coup, is set to restart. The Bundeswehr is also involved in it.

The EUTM in Mali, in which the German Federal Armed Forces is involved, will be resumed Photo: Michael Kappeler / Reuters

BERLIN taz | Two months after the military coup in Mali, the EU decided to resume its EUTM-Mali military training mission, which was suspended after the coup. According to information from the taz, the EU members in the Political and Security Committee of the EU decided on October 13th to “gradually resume” EUTM-Mali in coordination with the new civil-military transitional government.

Priority is given to advice, including in the areas of human rights and the fight against impunity, as well as support for the G5-Sahel regional anti-terrorism reaction force, and activities in central Mali, where violence and insecurity are greatest.

The State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defense, Thomas Silberhorn, also announced the resumption of EUTM Mali on Tuesday to the new Malian President Ba Ndaw and his Vice Assimi Goita during talks in Bamako. According to Malian reports, Silberhorn promised to “maintain and consolidate” the good relations between Germany and Mali.

The Bundeswehr is involved in EUTM Mali with an upper limit of 350 soldiers. In fact, almost all activities since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic have been on hold. The mission was formally suspended following the fall of President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta by the army on August 18.

The planned resumption of EUTM Mali is met with a mixed response in German politics, where the Bundeswehr mission in Mali is rejected by the left and AfD. Left-wing MP Tobias Pflüger renewed his call for the Bundeswehr to withdraw from Mali, as the EU mandate provides for the Malian armed forces to be trained “under the control of the legitimate civil government”: “Does the federal government now recognize the putschists as a legitimate government?” The FDP- Vice-President Christoph Hoffmann, who had visited Mali in September, called on the federal government to intensify development cooperation with Mali and to initiate government negotiations with Bamako “in order to support the transitional government with urgent reforms”.


Music: “Barokan” the 1st solo album of Djely Tapa is released in stores

Radio-Canada has dedicated it to “World Music Revelation” 2019-2020: a well-deserved reward for Djely Tapa. This Quebec singer of Malian origin is releasing her first solo album, Barokan, on October 23. A record where the flavor of tradition is enhanced with a fair dose of electronics. Djely Tapa makes today’s feminist struggles resonate with the sounds of tomorrow. .

Jihadists freed by Mali, the great unknown

In at least three places, the release of four hostages in Mali, Thursday, October 8, was celebrated: on the tarmac of the Villacoublay air base, near Paris, where Sophie Pétronin’s family came to wait for him the next day. ; in Bamako, around the residence of Soumaïla Cissé, the freed Malian opposition leader; and somewhere in the desert, near the border with Algeria, where the Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghali was giving a banquet to celebrate the jihadists that the junta in power in Mali had let go.

→ ANALYSIS. How Sophie Pétronin’s release in Mali became possible

On the side of Soumaïla Cissé, “The day of his release, we received friends until five in the morning”, specifies his wife joined by The cross. “My husband is fine. He was keen to meditate first on the grave of his bodyguard who was killed during his kidnapping six months ago. Then, he went to offer his condolences to the families of the members of his party who died of the coronavirus, during his captivity. “

“All of Bamako remembers the attacks on the Terrasse or the Radisson”

But it is the image of the “banquet”, available on social networks, that most moved Aimé, a Christian Malian from Bamako: “Iyad Ag Ghali showed his strength with this couscous and these grapes that made you want. He taunted the State of Mali by treating all these ex-prisoners involved in attacks, like those of the Radisson Blu or La Terrasse, which all of Bamako remembers. They are very dangerous individuals. “

More than 200 prisoners were freed by the junta and taken by plane to the north of the country. No exact count, no precise list is available concerning them. We rely on the photos of the banquet. On one of them, Aliou Mahamane Touré. The former head of the Islamic police of Mujao, in Gao, “Was arrested in 2013, tried in 2017, released two years later, before being handed over by the French soldiers of Operation Barkhane again to the Malian authorities”, says Drissa Traoré, of the Malian Association for Human Rights (AMDH).

The other releases could not be confirmed and remain shrouded in mystery. Since that of the hostages, Drissa Traoré is working to account for the releases decided by the junta. “A year ago, there were 200 jihadists detained in Bamako central prison. Last year, eleven were tried, this year four, including two in absentia ”, he recalls.

“The important thing was the release of Soumaïla Cissé”

The scenario of the outcome, almost a week later, seems relatively clear to Serge Michailof, author of Africanistan (1). “It was Iyad Ag Ghaly, a Tuareg leader affiliated with Al-Qaida, who negotiated with the Malian junta. He is quite close to the Algerian security services and has spent a long time in Saudi Arabia. The important thing was the release of Soumaïla Cissé. Sophie Pétronin was incidental in the negotiations ”, he said.

→ READ ALSO. The ex-hostage in Mali Sophie Pétronin, a humanitarian carried by faith

Fulani leader Amadou Koufa, also attached to Al-Qaida, active in the center and the south of the country, is not affected by the agreement, according to Serge Michailof, and has not seen his supporters released. As for the forces claiming to be Daesh, they do not intend to negotiate and are active in the region of the three borders (Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso) where “It seems that currently the French soldiers of Barkhane are concentrating their efforts to neutralize them”, he adds.

“Double language, double face”

The ruling junta in Bamako made the bet of negotiation with Iyad Ag Ghaly, the only one ready to hear the Malian soldiers, even if he had said that he would only compromise “The end of the racist and arrogant occupation of the French crusaders”. The Malian soldiers had to be helped for this dialogue by Iman Mahmoud Dicko, who can count on three ministers in the government.

“Subtle and clever, he is not an extremist, even if it was he who torpedoed the family code a few years ago”, summarizes Serge Michailof. Since Bamako, Aimé is less optimistic: “These Muslim leaders have a double talk, a double face. They are also driven by their financial interests, and there may be some in these releases. Their goal will always be for their religion to be truly applied in Mali. “


The fate of the hostages

With Sophie Pétronin and Soumaïla Cissé Father Pier Luigi Maccalli, abducted in 2018, and Nicola Chiacchio, abducted in February 2019, were released.

Sophie Pétronin indicated that during her detention, Béatrice Stöckli, a missionary from Basel, was dead. She worked in Timbuktu and was kidnapped four years ago.

A Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Argoti, seen on a video with Sophie Pétronin, would still be alive. She was forcibly taken away on February 7, 2017 by armed men who entered the grounds of her congregation in Karangasso.


“Resisting to exist”: Father Maccalli tells of his long imprisonment

“The future will be as God wills”: he looks at what he has lived and less at what awaits him, the missionary, originally from the province of Crema, released on 8 October last after the imprisonment that began in 2018 at the hands of jihadists between Niger and Mali. He does so in an interview with the Fides agency in which he also mentions Vatican Radio and the possibility, through its frequencies, of listening to the voice of the Pope “breath of fresh air” in the darkness of imprisonment

Gabriella Ceraso – Vatican City

Silence, mission, death, prayer: it is a flood, exciting, Father Pierluigi Maccalli in the interview – the first after his release on 8 October last – granted to the Fides agency. The 59-year-old missionary of the African Mission Society, kidnapped in September two years ago in Niger, is now in his home in Madignano in the province of Crema, among family members, citizens and confreres who, with the power of prayer, they supported from a distance and today they are confirmation for him that “the Mission is in God’s hands, it is Missio Dei”.

The testimony that emerges is that of a missionary totally entrusted to the hands of the Father, who has prayed and continues to pray for his jailers and who still needs time to understand what this affair will mean for his life “.” Taken away in slippers and pajamas “,” considered a ‘kafir’, impure, and condemned to hell “, the missionary sums up the time of imprisonment in two verbs:” resist to exist “.” My only support was prayer simple morning and evening that I learned in the family from my mother and grandmother’s rosary as a contemplative prayer “. A long period of” silence, purification, a return to the origins and to the essential “and many questions:” I shouted as outburst and lament to God: where are you? why have you forsaken me? Until when Lord? I knew and I know that He is there! But I know that God can be seen from behind, now that I am free, back home I am beginning to understand “.

“My only support was the simple morning and evening prayer”

From Vatican Radio the Pope’s voice: a breath of fresh air

Two long years in which there was no lack of what Father Gigi defines as “gifts”, “breaths of the Holy Spirit”. Like the one that arrived on the day of Pentecost 2020. From May 20, when he got hold of a radio, he says, “I was able to listen to the commentary on the Sunday Gospel from Vatican Radio every Saturday. Once even the live Mass … was precisely the mass of Pentecost 2020 “. The moment is special, the Pope’s homily is “a breath of fresh air”. “That morning – he says – to my great surprise I listen to Pope Francis in Italian, I close my ear and tune the radio better and I find myself at the beginning of the Pentecost mass in communion with the Pope, the church and the world. I tell myself” today I am in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and at the same time on a mission in Africa. I listen with some emotion to the readings and the Gospel that remind me of the motto of my priestly ordination, the passage from the Gospel of John (Jn 20): ‘As the father has gone I also send you. Receive the Holy Spirit’ “.

“Mission is not just ‘doing’, but silence and fundamentally it is Missio Dei”

Missionary from the bottom of my heart

For two years, therefore, prayer never ceased in the hands, on the lips, in the heart of Father Gigi, even in the absence of the Eucharist, and this was his salvation. “Every day and especially every Sunday I said the consecrating words’ this is my body offered, ‘bread broken for the world and Africa. In the morning prayer I prayed a French hymn … and ended by adding -‘ I have no other offer than the offering of my life ‘. Every Sunday I gave myself a good evangelical to meditate on, especially on the occasion of the strong times of Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter. Fear of being killed? “Only once – Father Gigi replies – I received expressly a threat … indeed a promise of a bullet in the forehead “, instead” I have always felt myself a missionary even with my feet chained, I would say ‘missionary from the bottom of my heart’. I often walked on the slopes of Bomoanga-Niger. My body was a prisoner of the sand dunes, but my spirit went to the villages that I mentioned in my prayer and I also repeated the names of my collaborators and of many people and young people that I carry in my heart especially the malnourished and sick children of whom I I am busy and many many faces that are a living presence in my wounded heart. I realized that mission is not just ‘doing’, but silence and fundamentally it is Missio Dei, it is the work of the Lord “.

The future is in God’s hands

Today there is no rancor towards those who held him prisoner only “much sadness” for those whom Father Pierluigi defines as “young people indoctrinated by propaganda videos”, who “do not know what they are doing” and to whom. indeed, before release. he wished in French to “realize one day that we are all brothers”. The interview ends with an eye to tomorrow, a tomorrow that the missionary hoped would rise every day, during his imprisonment, and that today he hands over to God: “at every sunset I said ‘let’s hope tomorrow’. Then at sunrise. I took up my rosary and continued to rhythm my day with the usual daily gestures, day after day. The future belongs to God, now I enjoy returning home, this is my present “.


Mali: Father Maccalli and Chiacchio released – Last Hour

(ANSA) – ROME, OCTOBER 9 – The priest Pier Luigi Maccalli, kidnapped in Niger in 2018, and Nicola Chiacchio were released in Mali. Father Maccalli, from the diocese of Crema, was kidnapped on 17 September 2018 in Niger, on a mission about 150 km from the capital Niamey. In April Avvenire had published a video in which the Lombard priest was imprisoned together with Chiacchio, of whom they had lost track, perhaps kidnapped during a vacation.

“Good news: Father Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio are finally free and well. They had been kidnapped by a jihadist group. Thanks to our intelligence, in particular Aise, and to all those who worked to bring them home”. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio writes on Twitter after the liberation of the two compatriots in Mali.