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Peace keepers into Mali

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I feel there are a number of questions about our Country's peace keeping activities and its relationship with the UN that need to be asked.

With limited resources available, shouldn't a legitimate cost / benefit analysis be undertaken by responsible Canadian authorities before deciding where it's appropriate to take up a cause?  

In the case of Mali, every expert authority has advised that peace is not possible.

So what does general trudeau do; he orders the military to send in a tiny lightly equipped force largely comprised of women into an impossible situation contrary to all informed advice?

BTW, where was the UN and trudeau when Arab Christians were being whacked by islamic Arabs across the newly forming caliphate? Doesn't anyone wonder why trudeau and the UN aren't over there today saving the remaining Christian Arabs from extermination at the hand of the islamists?

Meanwhile, Canada is rushing to sacrifice its loyal soldiers in a no win islamic war, this time in Africa when there is somewhere close by that could use our help, which would likely  produce positive outcomes for all involved?

Moving south, from what I can tell, most Canadians are completely oblivious to the South African situation; it must be the mass addiction to cable's mainstream news sources?

The UN and our government have been going out of their way to ignore the obvious plight of hundreds of thousands of people that just happen to be white, but are nonetheless on track to becoming the victims of government sanctioned extermination on the basis of race. BTW, it's not just whites, officials of the government of SA are increasingly in favour of establishing a policy to rid the land of anyone that isn't pure. Does that policy sound familiar?

So, yes, race does play a role in these situations, just as religion and other factors do and none of it can be ignored. For our part, I think it's important that we conduct common sense analysis that considers all causal factors before committing the military to enter into international regional conflicts. trudeau's sense of political correctness should not be allowed to enter into any equation involving the lives of Canada's military personnel.

When I look at the two possible African missions it's easy to see that the Boer and other less than pure people of South Africa need our help now. Should we decide to provide our services there'd be a much better chance of realizing a peace keeping dividend than throwing our resources into a wasteful unwinnable religious conflict in Mali.


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Ironically, the current debacle in Mali is largely a result of the intervention in Libya, a fact not largely reported or even acknowledged, but, certainly part of the “what did you think was going to happen” file. If you are looking to get bogged down in peacekeeping, look to Africa. If you are looking to get bogged down in Africa, look to Mali. And while looking, we should collectively reflect on the fact that we voted in favour of this… there are no surprises here.

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Canadian chopper pilots will be using the Afghanistan playbook in Mali, committee told

Officer says there's 'no evidence' of guerillas armed with portable surface-to-air missiles

Murray Brewster · CBC News · Posted: Apr 20, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 4 hours ago
A French soldier stands inside a military helicopter during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. Canada is sending six military helicopters to take part in the UN peacekeeping mission there.(Christophe Petit Tesson/THE CANADIAN PRESS-AP POOL)

The Canadian helicopters going to Mali will be outfitted as they were in Afghanistan, and will fly their missions the way they did there, senior military commanders said Thursday.

The country's military operations commander, Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes, and the director of the strategic joint staff at National Defence headquarters, Maj.-Gen Al Meinzinger, testified before the House of Commons defence committee about the upcoming peacekeeping mission in the troubled West African country.

They and senior officials from Global Affairs were questioned repeatedly by Conservatives MPs about whether the planned year-long deployment, slated to begin operations in August, can be deemed a combat — or war zone — operation.

The officials sidestepped that description. Bowes said the Canadian military is accustomed to operating in "high-risk environments" and called Mali a "complex conflict zone."

Armed groups linked to al-Qaeda, ethnic Tuareg and Arab guerillas and government-supported militia have attacked each other, Malian soldiers, peacekeepers, aid workers and other civilians in a conflict that has raged on since late 2012.

The six Canadian helicopters — two CH-147 Chinook battlefield transports and four CH-146 Griffon armed helicopters — will carry out medical evacuations, shuttle around United Nations peacekeepers from other countries and occasionally support the so-called G-5 Sahel countries which are carrying out counter-terrorism operations against Islamic extremists.

A 'disciplined approach'

That means Canadian pilots and aircrew will have to be very deliberate in the way they conduct themselves, said Meinzinger, a former CH-146 Griffon pilot who was commander of the Canadian air wing in Kandahar near the end of Canada's Afghan war.

"Our approach to this mission from an aviation perspective will be very akin to the way we operated in Afghanistan," he said.

"A very disciplined approach as to how we accept missions at the front end and pre-execution ... we have a very disciplined way where we consider all of the potential threats from the weather to the fatigue levels of the crews."

Those air operations in Kandahar were carried out under the umbrella of Canada's five-year combat mission, which ended in 2011.

The Griffons — which can be outfitted with a multitude of weapons, including the C-6 machine gun, the M-134 Dillon six-barrel gatling gun and the GAU-21 .50 Cal machine gun — will be used in the role of "armed escort" for the Chinooks, the generals testified.

The threat to aircraft posed by extremists in Mali comes from light arms, such as rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades — not very different from the weapons the air force faced in Afghanistan.

Bowes told the committee there's been "no evidence" of guerillas being armed with portable surface-to-air missiles, known as MANPADS.

Even still, he noted, the Canadian helicopters are equipped with defensive systems, including .50 calibre machine guns.

'Sophisticated and underhanded'

One of the biggest dangers to aircraft and crews in Mali is expected to be the harsh desert climate. Last summer, the Germans lost a Tiger helicopter in a mechanical failure crash that killed two.

A UN base in the troubled country was recently subjected to a four-hour rocket, mortar and car bomb attack, which killed two peacekeepers. It was described by the French military as "sophisticated and underhanded" — something that caught the attention of opposition MPs.

"They've been extremely bold in the last month," said Conservative MP and defence critic James Bezan, who has led the party's charge to have the deployment debated and approved by Parliament. "We're not talking [attacks] in open theater. They're coming right on the bases and taking the fight to us."

The air contingent will deploy with its own security and Meinzinger said the Germans will still station as many as 500 troops at the air base where operations are conducted.

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APRIL 22, 2018 / 9:56 AM / UPDATED 15 MINUTES AGO

Loud explosions again rock northern Mali's Timbuktu

Reuters Staff

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Several loud explosions rocked the northern Mali city of Timbuktu on Sunday near military bases where one U.N peacekeeper was killed and seven French troops were wounded last weekend by Islamist militants, a resident and a U.N. source said.

The U.N. source said that the U.N. peacekeeping mission base in Timbuktu known as the “Super Camp” was once again targeted by mortar fire, although that information could not be immediately confirmed.

Youba Cisse, a trader in Timbuktu, told Reuters he heard at least three loud detonations coming from the direction of the camp.

The April 14 car bomb and rocket attacks on the heavily fortified bases by militants disguised as U.N. peacekeepers marked a particularly daring assault amid an upsurge in jihadist violence in Mali and neighboring countries.


France’s defense ministry said at least 15 assailants were killed when it scrambled fighter jets and attack helicopters to respond. A peacekeeper from Burkina Faso also died in the attack.

U.N. peacekeeping and French military forces in northern Mali have faced near-constant attack over the past year by determined and well-armed jihadist groups seen as the gravest threat to security across West Africa’s Sahel region.

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Everything you need to know about the violence in Mali and what Canada will be doing to keep the peace

‎Today, ‎May ‎30, ‎2018, ‏‎4 hours ago | Marie-Danielle Smith

When Canadian helicopters and crew land in Mali later this summer, they will join a mission the United Nations has described as “highly volatile.” And there is disagreement among experts over what role Canada can — or should — play. The National Post’s Marie-Danielle Smith explores what our troops are getting themselves into.

What’s behind the violence in Mali?

Since this former French colony’s first democratic elections in the 1990s, insurgents in the north have staged several separatist rebellions. They were driven largely by the Tuareg people, an ethnic minority who said they felt excluded by the central government.

Following the post-Arab Spring downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, their cause was bolstered by soldiers fleeing Libya, and in 2012 rebels declared the north an independent Islamic state, imposing strict sharia law. At the same time, a military coup deposed the sitting government in the southern capital of Bamako.Who’s keeping the “peace”?

In 2013, French forces intervened to drive back the insurgents in northern Mali. The United Nations also set up a peacekeeping force. In 2015, two of the groups that had been engaged in warfare — one a coalition largely composed of separatists, the second considered pro-government — signed a peace deal with the sitting government.

But according to recent UN documents, implementation of the agreement “remains slow and unpredictable.” And insecurity is growing in northern and central Mali, “where there is a strong and expanding presence of violent extremist armed groups that frequently carry out asymmetrical attacks.” Among them are the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, which operates in the north with the endorsement of Al-Qaeda.

Today, the UN has more than 15,000 personnel from 28 countries on the ground in Mali. Some 4,000 French troops — as well as the G5 Sahel, comprised of troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — are engaged in counter-insurgency in the region.


This file photo taken on June 1, 2016 shows United Nations (UN) peacekeepers soldiers standing in front of Chinese UN peacekeeping forces camp in Gao after Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate AQIM claimed responsibility for May 31 attacks that killed Chinese peacekeeper and three civilians working for the UN’s Mali mission the US monitoring SITE said.

How dangerous is Mali right now?

This is currently the UN’s deadliest peacekeeping mission. Since 2013, 169 peacekeepers have been killed, 56 of them since the beginning of 2017. Documents describe attacks against personnel, camps, convoys and airfields in the past year.

Joyce Sepenoo, an assistant country director for Mali with Care International, described the situation as “dire.” She said violence has spread from the north to the centre and humanitarian workers are now concerned about the pressure that may result from people fleeing southward. Security has deteriorated to such a degree that, according to Sepenoo, it’s “practically impossible to operate” in some areas that were accessible even last year. “Our workers have been shot at, our staff have sustained gunshot wounds,” she said.

For the average Malian, meanwhile, “you find the food that you need to eat today,” says Sepenoo, “and hope that no security incidents happen where you are, and you get to see the next day.”

All eyes are on upcoming elections in July, she added, the outcome of which could pave the way for either improvement or further decline.

Does “peacekeeping” make sense under current conditions?

With a $1-billion budget, the UN mission’s stated objectives are to promote political reconciliation, supervise an ongoing ceasefire, promote human rights and justice, and restore rule of law and state authority to central and northern Mali.

The question is less whether the UN mission can “keep the peace,” since instability still reigns, and more whether its presence has prevented further instability. “The working theory is it would be worse, that there would be more violence, that the actors that we dislike the most might be gaining the upper hand, or there might be more civilian victimization,” said Steve Saideman, the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University. “The idea is that the UN is doing something. Not that it’s leading to a permanent peace or nirvana, but it’s doing something to limit the scope of violence.”


Although her organization has not independently assessed the mission’s work, Sepenoo said she believes “without the UN mission present the situation could have been worse.”

But Aisha Ahmad, a University of Toronto professor researching the financing of militias in northern Mali, cautioned that Islamist groups are not the only ones perpetrating violence and profiting from conflict in the country. Signatories to the peace agreement are also profiting through activities such as human trafficking, she said. “It is no secret to the leadership of the UN mission in Bamako that our allies are not interested in a peace agreement,” said Ahmad. “They would lose out from profitable opportunities if there was a sustainable peace.”

She added that using diplomatic coercion on those signatory groups would be more effective in the long run than the UN supporting the peace deal without condition. As it stands, the peacekeeping mission helps perpetuate stalemate, she said.


Canadian Peacekeepers prepare for a parade at Maple Leaf Camp in Port-au-Prince on Nov. 28,1997.

What will Canada be doing in Mali, exactly?

The government’s plan is to send two Chinook transport helicopters, four armed Griffon escorts and about 250 military personnel to keep the small fleet running. The primary mission will be to evacuate injured peacekeepers. It is possible the government could send additional helicopters as well, a military official told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.

The Germans and the Dutch previously provided helicopters to the UN mission, said Saideman, so Canada is taking its turn and being a good ally to its friends in Europe. “This is something the UN needs, but it’s not going to be all that discernible, it’s not going to move the needle that much in terms of changing what’s going on on the ground.”

Can Canadian peacekeepers actually make a difference in Mali?

Ahmad suggested that Canada could try to influence how the mission is conducted. “I think that by having a seat at the table, there must be an expectation on our government to introduce a sensible conversation about what mission success can and should look like.”

But Saideman said Canada is, at best, at “the kids’ table” in Mali. “We don’t have skin in the game,” he said. “We don’t have leadership positions, we don’t have battle-groups on the ground doing a lot of heavy lifting.”

What else could Canada do?

Ahmad pointed to the potential for non-military work in the region, around issues such as climate change. “If you want to just use the sharp end of the stick in these parts of the world without looking at root causes, without looking at innovative climate change adaptation strategies for building sustainable agriculture and livelihoods in these regions, it’s designed for failure,” she said.

Canada is already one of the largest donors of international assistance to Mali. It helps fund a Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is listening to victims of human rights abuses and trying to engage in “transitional justice,” said Pascal Paradis, the co-founder of Lawyers Without Borders Canada, a non-profit organization that is working with the commission.

So will Canadians be in danger, or not?

Armed groups in Mali “have not been shooting down UN helicopters,” said Saideman, and he doesn’t think Canadians are likely to leave the helicopter base.

“We perfectly understand the fear,” said Paradis, “but we’ve been (in Mali) for years and Canada has been supporting dialogue, transitional justice, support for civil society participation, for change in the institutions, for a long time. So this is part of a holistic approach.”

With files from The Canadian Press.

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Mali is a quagmire. It’s a testament to stupid people who don’t get it. The Tuareg people have a legitimate grievance here. But who cares, right?… back to Stormy Daniels and the key to some city I can’t name and don’t care about.





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CBC IN MALI  Link to complete article which has a number of videos:

1st Canadians hit the ground ahead of perilous Mali mission

A small advance team has arrived in Mali for Canada's first substantial peacekeeping mission since the 1990s.

170 international peacekeepers have died in Mali since mission began in 2013

Adrienne Arsenault · CBC News · Posted: Jun 24, 2018 6:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 3 minutes ago
A Canadian Forces pilot prepares to land in Bamako, Mali, as an advance team hits the ground for Canada’s first substantial peacekeeping mission since the 1990s. (Jason Burles/CBC)

This is where it begins.


A small advance team for Canada's first substantial peacekeeping mission since the 1990s has arrived in Mali.

The sweat was starting to pour off the dozen or so soldiers even as their plane thumped down in the capital, Bamako — and that might not just be because of the choking heat.

This is one of the most complicated tasks we have had to do.- Lt.-Col. Tom Murphy

A lot is expected.

Lt.-Col. Tom Murphy, commanding officer of the joint task force support component, has hurdles as high as his title is long. "This is one of the most complicated tasks we have had to do," he says.

This small team is what the Canadian Forces calls a theatre activation team, arriving ahead of the others to do reconnaissance and logistics planning.

hercules.jpgAboard a Hercules aircraft with Canadian troops bound for Mali. (Adrienne Arsenault/CBC)

Work will only get busier and more complicated as the summer goes on.

By Monday, a few dozen more troops will land at the dusty northern base in Gao, and by August, Canada's contribution begins in earnest: up to 250 troops, two Chinook helicopters, four armed Griffon helicopters and a major role in a daunting and expanded UN mandate.

Peacekeepers 'targeted'

Established in 2013, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) started as a plan to keep some sort of political stability and security in the West African country that was plunged into strife after a coup gave rise to warring factions of insurgents. But time has not eased the violence of extremist groups here.


This terrifies those who look at a map and see the potential of a failed Mali.

They see the inevitability of more desperation pushing more people across the Mediterranean, deepening the migrant crisis in Europe.

jonathan-vance.JPGChief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, shown here in Mali on Saturday, has left the country. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

They envision a foothold for terrorism that could threaten the Sahel region and beyond.

So the objectives have swollen: protect the civilians, promote human rights, rebuild the security sector, support political dialogue. The Canadian contingent joins 57 other countries — around 13,000 troops in all have been authorized to participate in the mission.

 Why Canadian peacekeepers are in Mali

There are no small asks in this country. And you won't find credible voices sugarcoating what's ahead.

The UN's deputy force commander, Senegalese Maj.-Gen. Amadou Kane, is blunt about the dangers peacekeepers face. Yes, it is one of the UN's most deadly missions. Yes, 170 peacekeepers have already been killed. And yes was the answer to a CBC News question about whether he believes the peacekeepers are being targeted for attack.

"Absolutely," he said from the base in Bamako on a day when a delegation from the Canadian theatre activation team was swooping in to introduce themselves.Residents of Bamako go on with their daily lives, while fighting factions of insurgents have made other parts of Mali a 'war zone,' according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (Jason Burles/CBC)

"The armed groups have shown their willingness to hamper the peace process by all means…. And we know that whatever opportunities they can get, they will act."

Even before the Canadians strap on the blue helmets, Kane has a list of needs and wants just to keep them and the other forces safe -- never mind all it will take to keep the population safe, which is effectively the point of this multinational effort.The UN’s deputy force commander, Senegalese Maj.-Gen. Amadou Kane, believes the peacekeepers in Mali are being targeted for attack by insurgents. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

"We don't have the intelligence in real time — this is the problem," he says.

Armed groups have carried out 44 attacks over two months this spring alone that killed and wounded civilians, Malian soldiers and UN personnel.

1-year commitment

Canada's commitment will be to make medical evacuations and provide aerial support.

No, that doesn't mean treacherous foot patrols. But it also doesn't mean a danger-free assignment. Canadians are entirely likely to be flying right into danger.

Lines blur and dance in the heat of Mali. So do missions. A documentary for the German network DW looked at the experience of Germans who are part of the Mali mission. A sergeant who had served in Afghanistan compared the two missions in terms of threat.

"There we had the Taliban — the one enemy that attacked us," the sergeant said. "Here we have several groups, and you lose track of who is who, and that's what makes it dangerous."

This will be at least one of the warnings the Canadians surely heed when they take over from the German helicopter contingent.

The plan is that Canada's contribution will have a hard end-date of one year. But few would be surprised if the UN didn't at least try for an extension or an expansion, because even after years of both a counterterror campaign and the UN mission, the violence has not abated. Some jihadist groups are joining forces, sharing their skills and intelligence and funds, which just adds a layer of vulnerability to both the people needing the peace and those trying to maintain it.

Timing is a wrinkle. Canada's deployment coincides with the Malian presidential election, set for July 29. That it will be free and fair is far from guaranteed.Guterres reviews the honour guard composed of MINUSMA peacekeepers, in Mopti, Mali, on May 30. (MINUSMA/Flickr)

Canada's ambassador to Mali, Louis Verret, is cautious in the way diplomats have to be.

"We hope that they will be transparent," he told CBC News in an interview at the embassy in Bamako.

"We hope that it will be democratic. We know we are not going to be perfect.… Let's say we are careful about those elections."

He and the Canadian troops have another serious concern: the discovery of mass graves holding the bodies of 25 civilians, purportedly executed by members of the Malian army -- the same military force MINUSMA is backing. The Malian government has said it will investigate.

"How can we have the civilian population being killed by their own army? This is not what we we believe in. This is not acceptable in terms of human rights," Verret says.

The work ahead is a little hard to fathom.

Mali needs fair elections. It needs stability. It needs the extremists to go away. It needs its poverty alleviated. It needs its drought abated.

In all this Canada has a part to play. And in all this there are risks around every dusty


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32 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

A complete waste of Canadian lives and resources!

Could not agree more but we need to remember that Justin was working  hard to get a seat on the UN Security Council. That may have changed but too late to back out of the commitment.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a pledge to seek one of the two seats as part of his promise that “Canada is back” on the world stage but the release of the briefing notes comes amid reports that Canada is “dialing back” its efforts to win the seat and increasingly views the bid as a low priority.

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June 24, 2018 / 10:57 AM / Updated an hour ago

At least 16 dead in central Mali ethnic clashes: government


Reuters Staff

3 Min Read

BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least 16 Fulani herders have been killed in suspected ethnic clashes in central Mali, the government and local sources said on Sunday, underscoring the chronic instability blighting the West African nation ahead of elections next month.

Mali is expected to go to the polls at the end of July, but north of the capital Bamako has become a lawless scrubland used as a launch pad for jihadist attacks across West Africa that, coupled with local ethnic tensions, has made governing near impossible and the forthcoming elections difficult to manage.

Saturday’s attack involved an attack on the village of Koumaga in the Mopti region, the government said.

“I confirm there were clashes between people from the same village (Koumaga), in the circle of Djenné (near Mopti). The army intervened to intervened and counted 16 dead for the moment,” security spokesman Amadou Sangho told Reuters.

The government did not provide further details of the attack, but an organization representing Fulani herders said on Sunday that close to 50 people were killed in Koumaga by Donzo hunters as part of ongoing clashes between the two groups that have long fought over land, grazing grounds and water rights.

“Shepherds, very young children with their animals in the bush, people returning ... to cultivate their fields, were cowardly murdered,” said Abdoul Aziz Diallo, who runs Tabital Pulaaku, a Fulani association.

The government has made no sign of a delay to July’s polls, but Saturday’s violence comes after a turbulent month in the cotton- and gold-producing nation.


The defense ministry said last week that some of its soldiers were implicated in “gross violations” after the discovery of some mass graves in the center of the country. The graves were found after a military crackdown on suspected jihadists and allied ethnic militia.

Mali has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely allied Islamists took over its north in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year. Those groups have since regained a foothold in the north and center

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Canadians head into fight that may be 'unwinnable' in Mali

In the bigger sense, Canada is part of a wider mission to support a five-year-old peace agreement. But the parties which signed that agreement, including pro-government groups and separatist and rebel factions, are seen to be breaking it on nearly a daily basis. Then there are the Islamic jihadists and bandits who didn't ever sign the agreement.

'No clear good guys,' even among those welcoming foreign troops

David Common · CBC News · Posted: Jun 26, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 3 minutes ago
Canadian soldiers move towards a Chinook transport helicopter in a training exercise. Before their deployment to Mali, they practised the rapid removal of injured troops. (David Common/CBC)

Canada's military has already learned the lesson that your supposed friends may actually be working against you. That those professing a willingness for peace have never put down their guns and that they are connected to narco-trafficking and need the chaos to continue so they can profit from it.

It happened in Afghanistan and it's happening now in Canada's newest mission: Mali.

"One of the biggest problems isn't that we have really tough rivals but that we have really bad allies," says Aisha Ahmad, a terrorism researcher at the University of Toronto who regularly travels to Mali. "Those groups are implicated in cocaine trafficking and illicit business and have become financially incentivized to maintain the status quo."

Jihadists never signed agreement


In the bigger sense, Canada is part of a wider mission to support a five-year-old peace agreement. But the parties which signed that agreement, including pro-government groups and separatist and rebel factions, are seen to be breaking it on nearly a daily basis. Then there are the Islamic jihadists and bandits who didn't ever sign the agreement and regard the UN mission (and the Canadians, by extension) as crusaders.

Starting in August, the Canadians are taking part in an aviation mission, relieving German troops who are part of a multinational UN mission that's been in place since 2013. 

"The core of the mandate is for the political process," says Arthur Boutellis, who helped design the original UN mission. He sees all peacekeeping nations as there to support the conditions for peace, to allow political actors to move forward. "But you should expect hostile forces. You should expect attacks on convoys. You should expect IED threats."

mali-peacekeeping.JPGOn Monday, 44 more Canadian soldiers arrived in Gao to take over from the German contingent. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

The Canadians will be responsible for ferrying other international troops by air, away from the roadside bombs which litter Mali's unforgiving, dusty terrain. They'll also conduct medical evacuations when peacekeepers are injured, and a series of effective and deadly attacks on international troops over the past several months shows the Canadian flight crews and medical teams will be busy.


Surface-to-air missiles are not believed to be present in Mali. But the airfield in the largely lawless northeastern city of Gao puts Canadian peacekeepers squarely in an area where the Malian government has little influence and where jihadists regularly attack peacekeeper bases.

We got into bed with some pretty rough characters- Aisha Ahmad, terrorism researcher

The question Canadian soldiers will be asking, says Ahmad, is who can we trust?

African nations make up the bulk of the peacekeeping force and, while many have shown professionalism, they sometimes lack the equipment and high-level training. Worse though are the Malians themselves, the power brokers who signed the peace agreement, and welcomed the international community as peacekeepers.

"We got into bed with some pretty rough characters," she says, "I'm deeply concerned that our men and women in uniform would be put into a situation where they're potentially being handed an unwinnable war."

The federal Liberals seem keenly aware of the complexities — and challenges to success. From a post-election promise of 600 soldiers for peacekeeping, the Mali mission has been scaled back to about 250, with no ground troops.

Reluctant to take on Mali commitment

While Canada has sent millions in aid dollars for several years, former UN official Boutellis says, at one point, Canada rescinded all offers of military assistance. That, he says, may leave the impression at UN headquarters that Canada is now willing to negotiate for an even greater contribution.

"Some infantry, for instance, would very much be welcome," he says. "Maybe Canada would then consider expanding its contribution to patrolling."

Starting this summer, the Canadians will play a limited role, but it is critically important to the mission. Ahmad says that may be an opportunity to rein in the excesses of our allies.

"We seem to save all of our carrots for our friends and use all of our sticks on our enemies, but our friends are a bunch of carrot-stealing rapacious bad guys."

She suggests the mission get tough with those whose peace we are ostensibly there to support, and insist they clean up their act, distance themselves from the drug trade, corruption and targeted sexual assaults.

Tough talk for allies


That would be a tough conversation, but at least those who signed the peace agreement will come to the table. The jihadists will not.


But without that conversation, the violence won't end, she says. And Canada's military is expecting to leave Mali after just one year.


That, says the terrorism researcher, is "essentially saying we've successfully met our obligations to the international community by taking on this limited role ... now we're done and we're going out. That's a very low bar from what we're going to say ... mission accomplished."


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More Canadian soldiers land in Mali

German peacekeepers share knowledge

  • Calgary Herald
  • 26 Jun 2018
  • Lee Berthiaume

•A second contingent of Canadian soldiers flew into the dusty, sunbaked airstrip here Monday to get ready for the arrival next month of the eight helicopters Canada has pledged to the UN mission in Mali for the next year.

As the sweaty Canadians unloaded their gear at a nearby UN base in the surprisingly sticky heat, moving into the tents and barracks that are their new homes, a number of German soldiers sat and watched from the shade.

Germany has a sizable presence at the UN base in Gao that includes a detachment of NH-90 helicopters, bolstered by several similar aircraft from Belgium, for evacuating injured peacekeepers from the field.

Those Belgian helicopters were on display Monday as they returned to base and landed within the fortified perimeter only long enough to take on some fuel before taking off and disappearing into the distance again.

But both Germany and Belgium will officially end their medical-evacuation missions on Saturday, at which point the NH-90s will be packed up and returned home to make way for their Canadian counterparts.

Many of the Germans here previously served in Afghanistan, and while they say there are many similarities, there are also key differences, starting with the fact they have not fired a single shot or taken any fire.

That may seem odd, given the peacekeeping mission’s deadly reputation, but it reflects the fact most of those killed have been blue helmets from less developed countries caught in ambushes and roadside-bomb attacks.

While the Germans and Belgians have not been attacked, they are there to help with the aftermath; over the past 18 months, they have evacuated 43 wounded peacekeepers from the field over the course of 16 flights.

While the number of flights may not seem high, Col. Andreas Schwartz, one of two emergency physicians responsible for treating patients on the helicopters, says the patient-to-flight ratio far surpasses what was seen in Afghanistan.

“The statistics say that over the last 18 months, we have half the missions but we have to take care of double the patients,” Schwartz said. “With every mission, we have to carry double the patients we had in Afghanistan.”

There are many other differences between the UN mission in Mali and Afghanistan, where NATO was in charge, said Lt.-Col. Kai Eggert, chief of operations for the multinational helicopter detachment.

Those include the heat and isolation in Gao, where it can take weeks to get spare parts, a lack of radios among some contingents from less developed countries, and the absence of exchanges of fire.

“We never received any fire from ground forces,” Eggert said as he stood next to one of the Belgian NH-90s where it was protected from the sun inside a large hangar.

“Quite the opposite. What we experienced is whenever we brought up a helicopter on scene, it was enough of a show of force and the terrorist armed groups ceased fire and vanished into the desert.”

Yet one of the most surprising differences, says Eggert, has been how the Germans have often been forced to wait hours before the UN headquarters in Bamako gives them permission to fly to the scene of an attack.

When a UN convoy or patrol is attacked, the request for help must follow a chain that runs from the unit commander on the ground through various other commanders and back to the UN headquarters in Bamako.

While that alone can take a long time, given patchy communications networks and the vagaries of the UN command system, military and civilian officials must then meet to discuss whether to send a military or civilian helicopter.

That discussion can also take time — in part, the Germans say, because one of the key factors is cost, requiring various calculations to determine the most cost-effective option.

While Lt.-Col. Sebastian Koehler, commander of the multinational helicopter detachment, acknowledged both the challenge and frustration of such delays, he also noted that the UN is under pressure to be costconscious.

The UN has faced more scrutiny than in the past to account for its spending because of past corruption as well as shrinking budgets, particularly as the U.S. has cut its funding for peacekeeping.

The impact is nonetheless clear as the Germans and Belgians have faced waits of up to 17 hours before launching a mission, which Schwartz, in his capacity as an emergency physician, says is “not tolerable.”

He said they want to be launched as soon as possible regardless of any financial aspects. “The time between the incidents and the first treatment decides the outcome of the patient.”



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July 1, 2018 / 7:19 AM / Updated 39 minutes ago

Mali car bomb kills two civilians, wounds French soldiers


Reuters Staff

2 Min Read


BAMAKO (Reuters) - An attack on a military patrol in northern Mali killed two civilians and wounded up to eight French soldiers on Sunday, Mali’s defense ministry said.

The attack comes two days after Islamist militants killed at least six people during a raid on a military headquarters in central Mali, a country where French troops are helping combat jihadists across its vast desert reaches.

“I confirm that it was a car bomb that drove into a joint Barkhane/Malian army patrol,” defense ministry spokesman Boubacar Diallo said. Barkhane is the name of the near 4,000-strong French force stationed in its former colonies across the Sahel region.

About a dozen people were wounded in Sunday’s attack, including four to eight French Barkhane troops, Diallo said.

France’s army spokesman, Patrik Steiger, confirmed that civilians had been killed in an attack in Gao and the army was assessing the state of the 30-strong French patrol that came under attack.


He said the explosion happened near three French vehicles.

Photos posted on social media showed an armored vehicle on a sandy road surrounded by black smoke.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred a month before presidential elections scheduled for the end of July.

But violence by Islamist militants has proliferated in the sparsely-populated Sahel in recent years, with groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State using central and northern Mali as a launchpad for attacks across the region.

Western powers have provided significant funding to a regional force made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania combating jihadists. But the so-called G5 force has been hobbled by delays disbursing the money and poor coordination between the five countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who last year complained that G5 was taking too long to set up, is due in Mauritania on Monday to discuss security in the region.


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Looks like we will be pouring more money down the drain and exposing more of our men/women in uniform to injury in Mali.

Canada looks to deepen involvement in Mali by sending up to 20 police officers, investing $10M for training

‎Yesterday, ‎July ‎5, ‎2018, ‏‎3:38:11 PM | The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The federal government plans to deepen Canada’s involvement in Mali by sending up to 20 police officers and investing millions of dollars in the coming years to help train local security forces in the destitute West African nation.

The latest initiatives were revealed Thursday, as the first Canadian Forces helicopter and another group of military personnel headed across the Atlantic to take up their roles in what’s come to be known as the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission.

Canada has already committed a total of eight helicopters and 250 service members for the next 12 months to provide medical evacuations and other support to the UN in Mali, which has been riven by conflict and instability since 2012.

The federal government plans to deepen Canada’s involvement in Mali by sending up to 20 police officers to help the UN and European Union train local security forces. Canadian troops arrive at a UN base in Gao, Mali, on Monday, June 25, 2018.

The Canadians are expected to officially take over from the current German and Belgian helicopter contingent next week; as of Aug. 1, they will begin flying missions from a dusty UN base in the northern city of Gao.

But senior officials who briefed reporters Thursday on condition of anonymity said the government is also in talks with the UN and European Union about sending Canadian police officers, who will train Malian counterparts to better provide law and order to the country.

One of the main complaints about the Malian security forces is that they are understrength and stretched thin, meaning they have been hard-pressed to extend their reach into much of the country — especially those areas where fighting over smuggling routes is prevalent.

The RCMP, along with officials from Public Safety Canada, Global Affairs Canada and the Surete du Quebec, visited Mali last month to take a closer look at the work that is underway and how Canada can contribute.

The government is now waiting for the UN and EU to lay out the number and type of officers that they want Canada to send, said one official, adding: “Obviously, and very importantly, we need to also determine the level of risk that we’re willing to undertake.

“The primary responsibility is always to ensure the duty of care of our Canadian police officers who we deploy to peace operations, so we’ll need to come to ground on where we stand there.”

At the same time, a second official said Canada has contributed about $40 million since 2010 toward counter-terrorism training in Mali, which has seen Islamic extremist groups stoke internal tensions in the country and target local and UN forces for attacks.

Those investments are set to continue, with about $10 million per year earmarked for more such training, the second official said, “and we anticipate going forward that, of course, Mali will be a beneficiary of a good proportion of that funding.”

Yet one of the challenges in deepening ties with the Malian security forces has been concerns about human-rights abuses, with the government in Bamako confirming last month that the military killed at least 25 civilians and buried them in a mass grave.

Louis Verret, Canada’s ambassador to Mali, was among those who condemned the extra-judicial killings, but told The Canadian Press in a recent interview that he was heartened by the fact the government took responsibility and promised to take action.

That didn’t keep the UN’s independent expert on human rights in Mali, Alioune Tine, from flagging his concerns earlier this week about the growing number of human-rights violations by the Malian military and calling for an immediate, independent investigation.

Mali has been riven by conflict and strife since a rebellion in the north and a coup in the capital in 2012 threw the country into turmoil, which has been exacerbated in recent years by poverty, drought and an influx of Islamic jihadists.

The Canadian military helicopters are expected to provide medical evacuations to injured peacekeepers across the country over the next year as well as fly blue helmets and supplies to different locations when needed.

One senior official confirmed Thursday that the Canadians, who are expected to have limited contact with locals or the Malian military, could also be called upon to provide occasional support to a five-country counter-terror force operating in the country.

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Growing extremism threatens Mali's July 29 elections

As deadly attacks by extremists become more brazen in Mali, officials and citizens fear this month's presidential election will be at risk from growing insecurity.

Situation has deteriorated despite millions invested by international community, including Canada

The Associated Press · Posted: Jul 19, 2018 8:11 AM ET | Last Updated: 22 minutes ago
A still image taken from video shows an armoured personnel carrier on fire after a car bomb attack in Gao, northern Mali, July 1, 2018. (Reuters TV)

As deadly attacks by extremists become more brazen in Mali, officials and citizens fear this month's presidential election will be at risk from growing insecurity. 

A branch of al-Qaeda even set off a car bomb at the headquarters of a new West African counterterror force late last month, further destabilizing central Mali as extremist groups expand from remote northern regions where they have had strongholds for years. 

A more assertive response by Mali's security forces has led to accusations of extrajudicial killings, while neighbours turn on each other amid suspicions of joining extremist groups. At least 289 civilians including young children have been killed in communal violence since the beginning of the year, with some burned alive in their homes or killed while hiding in mosques, the United Nations said this month. 

People are afraid of kamikazes, conflicts in the polling station or even a post-election crisis.- Moulaye Ongoiba, regional deputy mayor 

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, which Canadian troops are part of, is the deadliest in the world; 170 international peacekeepers have died there since the mission began in 2013.

As the July 29 elections approach, insecurity is a major issue for candidates including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who seeks a second term. Experts warn of a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of schools have closed out of fear of attack. 

"It would be difficult to organize the elections in my commune in Mondoro, near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso," one local official, deputy mayor Moulaye Ongoiba, told The Associated Press. Extremist attacks in the region have risen over the past year, while tensions grow between ethnic Fulani Muslims and other groups such as the Dogon and Bambara who accuse the Fulani of being recruited by jihadists. 

"The Malian army attacks the civilians thinking that they are complicit with the jihadists, and the jihadists attack the civilians thinking that they are complicit with the army. It's a chaotic situation," the 32-year-old deputy mayor said. "People are afraid of kamikazes, conflicts in the polling station or even a post-election crisis." 

Situation has deteriorated

The situation is worse than during the previous elections in 2013, Andrew Lebovich, Mali expert and visiting fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations, told the AP. 

Five years ago a French military intervention had pushed al-Qaeda-linked fighters from their strongholds in the north and security appeared to be improving. But while the international community, including Canada, has invested millions of dollars in Mali's government, the situation has deteriorated.

French soldiers on patrol in the northeastern city of Gao were targeted just two days after the deadly attack on the Mauritania headquarters of the G5 Sahel, a regional security and development co-operation body made up of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

With the absence or weakness of state security in some areas, "some communities have had to make a choice to work with extremists or militias," Lebovich said, adding that Malian forces have made it worse by "targeting [Fulani] in central Mali and by making it clear the state was unwilling to provide security." 

The government has confirmed security forces' participation in the extrajudicial killings last month of 25 Fulani men in the central Mopti region, and the UN has urged authorities to prevent similar attacks. 

"These major crimes threaten communal cohesion in Mali and facilitate jihadist groups' recruitment efforts. They also undermine the role the international community plays in Mali, including its training programs for the security forces," Lebovich wrote in a recent report. "Continuing failure to deal with these issues will only make peace harder to achieve."

'People are used to terrorist attacks'

In a separate report this month, UN independent expert Alioune Tine said Malian authorities must investigate what he called an alarming increase in rights violations by militias "often with the participation of armed groups, resulting in deaths, injuries, destruction or burning of property and people being forced to leave their homes." 

He expressed grave concern over the "continuing deterioration" in central Mali and in the region of Menaka, near Niger, which has become a hiding place for extremists linked to the Islamic State group who clash with local self-defence forces. More than 120 people were killed there between April 26 and May 18, Tine said. 

un-peacekeeping-canada-mali.jpgA Canada flag patch and UN patch are seen on a member of the Canadian Forces, at the base in Trenton, Ont., before heading to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Extremists take advantage of the absence of state power, pitting communities against one another, Tine said.

Civilians unhappy with Mali's instability may start sympathizing with the extremists or other armed groups, human rights groups have warned. 

In one example in January, extremists attacked an army base in the village of Soumpi on the road between Mauritania and Timbuktu. Residents did not condemn the attack, saying they were often stopped by the military along the road and forced to pay bribes. 

Extremists have expanded their messaging to address the upcoming vote. When the government in February announced the election dates, al-Qaeda's Mali branch issued warnings on social media against going to the polls. 

"Our duty to all is to neutralize these unbelieving unbelievers with hands stained by the blood of the innocent and with pockets and safes filled with the money of the needy," Abdou Abdirrahmane As-sanhaji, senior judge of a coalition of jihadist groups, said of politicians in one post. 

Some residents in Mali's north said that despite the threats they hope elections can go ahead. 

"Here in Timbuktu, people are used to terrorist attacks. The campaign continues despite terrorist threats," said Alassane Ag Idiasse, 30, who works with a private security group used by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. "We only hope that everything will be

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PICTURE: RAF Chinooks boost French mission in Mali

  • 26 July, 2018
  • BY: Craig Hoyle
  • London

A trio of Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook HC5 transport helicopters have been deployed to Mali, where they will provide logistics support for a French-led counter-terrorism operation.

"The Chinooks will provide niche logistical support and will also help improve safety by moving troops by air, rather than ground where they are more vulnerable to attack," the Ministry of Defence says.

Asset Image

Crown Copyright

Deployed from RAF Odiham in Hampshire as part of a detachment totalling around 90 UK personnel, the rotorcraft are extended-range examples – nicknamed "fat tanks" by the service.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records the RAF as operating 54 Chinooks, with their age ranging between two and 37 years.


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Quebec provincial police could join Mali peacekeeping mission

A contingent of officers from the Sûreté du Québec could soon be heading to the West African country of Mali as part of Canada’s peacekeeping efforts.

Past Haiti mission prompted several sexual misconduct reports

Angelica Montgomery · CBC News · Posted: Aug 05, 2018 11:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 3 hours ago
Sûreté du Québec Lt. Sophie Gougeon recently returned from Bamako, Mali, where she helped the RCMP assess whether a police contingent should join Canadian peacekeepers in the West African country, torn by civil war since 2012. (Sûreté du Québec)

A contingent of officers from the Sûreté du Québec could soon be heading to the West African country of Mali as part of Canada's peacekeeping efforts.

The provincial police officers would help train Malian police in specialized techniques such as crime scene or major crime investigations, including homicide, said SQ Lt. Sophie Gougeon.

Gougeon spent a week in Mali's capital of Bamako last June with the RCMP, to assess whether a police contingent should go to the country.

"Are there any hospitals? What can they provide to our people if they are hurt or sick?"

"We just wanted to be sure that our people will be well taken care of if anything happens to them," she said.

The West African country has been in turmoil since insurgent groups began fighting for independence in northern Mali in 2012. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

CBC News reported last month that Canada plans to deploy up to 20 civilian police officers to the civil war-torn country, which has been one of the deadliest United Nations peacekeeping missions in recent years.

Gougeon contributed to the RCMP's report to the federal government, which the government will consult before issuing a final decision about dispatching police officers, likely this fall.

The first Canadian military team arrived in Mali at the end of June.

Members of the Canadian forces left CFB Trenton, in Ontario, on July 5, heading to Mali for Operation Presence, the military operation to support the United Nations peace mission. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Canada hopes bringing in female officers such as Gougeon will help focus its peacekeeping efforts on the plight of women. Authorities are also interested in recruiting police from Quebec, since the mission is in a French-speaking country.

However, Quebec police involvement in another peacekeeping mission — this one in Haiti — only a handful of years ago led to reports of sexual misconduct against both provincial police and Montreal city police officers.

Keeping an eye on peers' behaviour

Gougeon, who took part in the mission to Haiti, says steps will be taken to prevent a repeat of past incidents.

Participants will be warned about proper behaviour during their training. They will have to sign documents pledging to conduct themselves appropriately, and they will be reminded of the existence of an employee support line that provides for advice and counselling.

Officers will also be asked to keep an eye on each other's behaviour.

"UN personnel are meeting with them, and they are constantly talking about it," Gougeon said. "We are doing everything we can to make sure no one is crossing the line on that subject."

While Gougeon says she cannot predict whether Quebec provincial police officers will eventually end up in Mali, she says her team felt perfectly comfortable in the country.

"We felt safe. People, when they saw us, we were welcome. We didn't see anything that made us believe we were not welcome there."

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On ‎4‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 4:40 PM, Fido said:

They do not speak French in South Africa.

From the role that Canada is taking I wonder if they even need to take bullets with them?

January 20, 2019 / 6:31 AM / Updated 25 minutes ago  No safety in Mali even when on base.

Ten U.N. peacekeepers killed in attack in northern Mali


2 Min Read


BAMAKO (Reuters) - Ten U.N. peacekeepers from Chad were killed and at least 25 were wounded while repelling an attack by armed assailants near a village in northern Mali on Sunday, the West African nation’s U.N. mission and the United Nations said.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear. U.N. peacekeeping and French forces are stationed in northern Mali to combat well-armed jihadist groups seen as threatening security across Africa’s Sahel region.

The clash near Aguelhok occurred early on Sunday following an attack by assailants in many armed vehicles, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement.

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