The Sahel: A new front line in the anti-jihadist war,

[…] All this has led Britain to announce that it is to augment the 11,620-strong UN force in Mali, known as MINUSMA, by 250 troops. This may not sound particularly significant, but Lt Gen Dennis Gyllensporre, MINUSMA’s Swedish commanding officer, has said that the British contribution will play a vital role in his efforts to turn around a mission that, until now, has widely been seen as a failure. He is planning a total change of tactic. Up to now MINUSMA has been unable to to protect civilians or stabilize the country, because it exerts only the most tenuous authority in the northern towns in which it is based. Outside the towns, the jihadists roam at will, while targeting MINUSMA itself.

Executive Riccardo Maia reckons that the UN base in Timbuktu has come under attack 41 times since he arrived there in 2015. Twelve peacekeepers were killed when jihadists overran the MINUSMA base in Aguelhok last year. Now Gyllensporre plans a radical adaptation of peacekeeping norms. He will split his force into two tiers. One will play a traditional peacekeeping role, with UN troops stationed in bases near important towns, as they are today. The second, which will be spearheaded by the British contingent, will carry out long-range reconnaissance patrols of up to 30 days deep into jihadist territory and be on standby for rapid deployment anywhere in the country. “With a manoeuverable force,” Gyllensporre is reported as saying, “we can be more proactive in anticipating attacks…and going in where there are confrontations. This will be a more robust, versatile part of the force that will enable us to respond decisively. The British contribution will be the tip of the spear of our adaptation.” Läs artikel