Mali wants Dutch troops

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“Our Government wants you to send soldiers,” Mamounou Toure, a representative of the embassy of Mali in Brussels pleaded in the Second Chamber yesterday, at a hearing regarding Dutch support to the UN mission to his country. Government announced earlier this month that it was considering sending 400 soldiers to the former Dutch colony, and according to Toure this reinforcement could play an important role in restoring stability. He said the only language the jihadists understand is the language of violence.

Mali has been dealing with considerable internal unrest since 2012, when Islamic extremists took advantage of the instability that followed a coup in the country’s capital, Bamako, and seized power in northern Mali. This lead to a brief war, during which France and bordering nations helped secure south Mali against rebel forces.

But although the French troops managed to stem an advance by jihadists and Tuareg rebels pushing down south, the unrest is not over and has witnessed a spurt recently. Two journalists from Radio France Internationale were kidnapped and then executed in northern Mali on November 2.

Toure said it might be another five to six years before his country’s army has been trained well enough to handle security. He said the development of northern Mali is difficult, but that there is no animosity between the south and the north. The diplomat said the peace process is “essential” for Mali’s integrity, which is crucial to his Government.

The Second Chamber has not yet decided whether to approve sending soldiers. If they would go, the Dutch soldiers would be tasked with gathering and analyzing information. Mali experts Kees Homan (Clingendael) and Rob de Wijk (HCSS) say the mission is possible but not without risk. The biggest danger is that the jihadists that would regroup and attack the Dutch mission. “And that regrouping will certainly happen,” said De Wijk.