In 2018, I reported on the dire situation in Mali and the impact that Canada’s commitment to providing peacekeeping troops to MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) was having on the country (carolejustin.com/mali-politics-walking-the-tight-rope-between-chaos-and-democracy/) . Two years later the answer is clear: Not too much. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, now beset with the COVID pandemic, doesn’t have any time to deal with the issue and by the way never did even before the pandemic.
The Coup that took place in Mali in August 2019 only highlights the ‘do-nothing’ attitude that the Canadian Government has shown politically in Mali over the past few years. Although Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne stated after the Coup that “Canada strongly condemns the coup d’état in Mali”, his words sound shallow considering that Canada has done little next to nothing to assist Mali during its present crisis despite the country being one of largest beneficiaries of Canadian aid in all of Africa.
Canadian troop deployment to Mali increased to 600 personnel in August 2018 and supported UN peacekeeping operations in logistical and medical support operations. While our troops, as usual, did an outstanding job under extremely dangerous conditions in Mali, the Canadian government it seems didn’t have the political courage to take some real action after mutinous soldiers kidnapped (or “arrested” as the Coup leaders claim) Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and forced him to resign on August 18, 2020. It should be noted as well that Canada only provided the 600 troops to Mali in 2018, after receiving major pressure from France, the US and the UNDPKO (United Nations Defense Keeping Operations). It was only because of this, that Ottawa finally agreed to provide more troops to the UN mission in Mali.
While the peace deal that brought a supposed end to Mali’s civil war took effect in 2015, and civilian rule slowly started to take hold in the country, Canada’s lack of determination to help defeat terrorist groups in Mali such as AQIM (‘Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb’), Boko Harem, ISIS and other terrorist organizations has frankly, been an embarrassment to our country. Instead, it is France who has (along with the Americans) led the world in the battle against Islamic terrorism in Western and Northern Africa over the past decade.
In an article penned by CBC reporter Lee Berthiaume last August (www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadian-commitment-mali-coup-1.5704910 ) it’s rightfully noted that “despite sending hundreds of peacekeepers to Mali and investing hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance in the country in recent years, Canada has become largely disengaged from it thanks to a lack of political will and interest”.
Now two years later, Canada only has a paltry contingent of five police officers and less than 10 military officers deployed to Mali. The Canadian government’s lackluster polices in Mali underly Prime Minister Trudeau’s overall failure in developing effective aid programs for African countries who are struggling for freedom and democracy. Canada’s moral obligation and our international prestige are on the line here and its quite apparent that our government doesn’t really grasp the reality of it. Thankfully, we still have our allies in NATO, France and the US who are taking the lead in Mali because Canada was unwillingly and unable to do so.