Germany wants to maintain its presence in the Sahel from Niger

Germany will remain committed to security in the Sahel after the announced withdrawal of its troops from Mali and will focus its efforts on neighboring Niger, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Wednesday (April 12th) on the occasion of his first visit to the area

Germany wants to maintain its presence in the Sahel from Niger

Germany will remain committed to security in the Sahel after the announced withdrawal of its troops from Mali and will focus its efforts on neighboring Niger, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Wednesday (April 12th) on the occasion of his first visit to the area.

"Our future military engagement in the Sahel will focus on Niger," he said in a statement ahead of his trip to that country and Mali from Wednesday to Friday. “Security in the Sahel region is in Germany's particular interest. Although we are ending our military engagement with Minusma, we remain engaged in the region,” Mr. Pistorius added.

Following other countries, Germany announced in November 2022 its intention to withdraw its troops engaged in the framework of the UN mission (Minusma) in Mali, a country in the grip of a crisis with multiple dimensions since 2012. . This withdrawal will take place by May 2024, but Mr. Pistorius has already been skeptical about keeping German soldiers until then, believing that they cannot currently fulfill their mission.

"Further stabilize the region"

Mali was the scene in 2021 of a second coup d'etat in two years which strengthened the grip of the military, who moved away from the West to get closer in particular to Russia.

To maintain pressure on jihadist groups active in the region, several countries wish to strengthen their cooperation with Niger, considered a more reliable partner than Mali. The German government decided in March to send sixty soldiers to this country to participate in a new mission led by the European Union (EUMPM Niger). This participation must still be discussed in the German Parliament in the coming weeks.

Speaking on arrival at an airlift hub in Niamey, Mr Pistorius said military support and development support were essential "to stabilize the region more and even better than in the past". The air base will be “of particular importance (…) when we withdraw from Mali, because it is here that we will concentrate after the withdrawal from Mali,” the minister said.

Mr Pistorius, who was appointed defense minister in January, is accompanied on his trip by development minister Svenja Schulze. Both will continue their visit to Mali on Thursday and Friday.