Challenges ahead as UN set to extend ‘most dangerous’ mission, aljazeera.com

Joseph Stepansky, freelance reporter

The United Nations Security Council is expected next week to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

Often dubbed the UN’s most “dangerous mission”, MINUSMA will enter its eighth year at the centre of a multilayered and complicated conflict that has spread across the Sahel, a semi-arid region directly south of the Sahara desert in northwestern and central Africa. Its challenges are myriad: a volatile environment that often proves deadly for UN forces, restricts peace-building initiatives and keeps the mission on a defensive footing; an inconsistent Malian ruling class; and a shifting and complex crisis that has exploded in the centre of the country that lacks an adequate framework for resolution. […]

The mission has become “life support” for a Malian state teetering on the edge, providing critical infrastructure, in particular air transportation, for a government that has largely retreated from large swaths of the country, said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I think that without MINUSMA, for as dire and desperate as the situation in Mali is, it would slide even further down into instability, unrest and un-governability,” he said.

“The most generous thing we can say about MINUSMA is that it slows Mali’s slide … But Mali continues to devolve and worsen despite MINUSMA’s presence.” […]

MINUSMA’s most recent renewal signifies a temporary truce between the United States and France, both permanent UNSC members and veto-power holders, analysts say.   The US, citing the security deterioration in recent years, has repeatedly called for a “major drawdown” in the mission and that it be repurposed with the sole aim of protecting civilians. Meanwhile, France, which has taken the most active military role of any foreign power in its former colony since its 2013 intervention, sees MINUSMA as an essential component of a broad coalition of forces currently attempting to root out armed groups.     Läs artikel

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