Denmark announced Thursday that it will start withdrawing its battalion of about 100 special forces soldiers from Mali in response to repeated requests from Mali’s ruling junta, which said it had not yet approved the deployment of Danish forces.
Denmark condemned what it called a “dirty political game” from Bamako, and the withdrawal of the European country’s forces constitutes a severe blow to the European force to combat armed groups led by France. Welcome to Mali.
“We don’t accept that, so we decided to bring our soldiers home,” Minister Kofod said. “We are there at the invitation of Mali. The coup generals, in a dirty political game, withdrew the invitation…because they don’t want a quick way back to democracy.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quick to express his support for Denmark, and said – in a press conference with his Nigerian counterpart Hassumi Masudu – “The military council is illegitimate, and it takes irresponsible measures … and bears full responsibility for the withdrawal of Danish forces and is increasingly isolated from its international partners.”
In a surprising move, the military junta – which has been ruling in Mali since carrying out a coup in 2020 – asked Denmark last Monday night to withdraw its battalion, arguing that its publication “was done without its consent.”
The countries participating in the European force are holding a video conference today, Friday, on the future of the European Special Forces “Takuba” group, which was established in 2020 at the initiative of France with the aim of sharing burdens in the Sahel, and Denmark has joined it.
The Danish battalion (105 elements) arrived in Mali last week to participate in the “Takuba” force.
In a surprising step, the Military Council – which has ruled in Mali since it carried out a coup in 2020 – asked Denmark last Monday night to withdraw its battalion on the pretext that its publication “was carried out without its consent”, and the transitional government in Bamako said it was surprised by the Danish military presence, because no action was taken. A decision yet regarding a request submitted by Denmark last June to deploy forces.
A previous statement of the Malian government added that “there is no agreement that allows the deployment of Danish special forces in the Takoba force, noting that Norway, Portugal and Hungary are still waiting for approval and have not deployed forces in Mali.”
An exception to the decision to withdraw Danish forces is the elements participating in the United Nations peacekeeping force.
France and 14 other countries called on Mali late on Wednesday to allow the Danish force to stay.
The Takoba force is made up of 14 European countries, and its goal is to help neighboring West Africa Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in the face of militants linked to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, who have occupied large swaths of land in the area where their borders meet.