Mali in the Wake of Afghanistan
28 March, 2013
According to the Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, participation of Georgian militaries in the Mali operations would speed up Georgia’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures.
On 20 December, 2012, the UN Security Council resolved to send international peacekeeping mission to Mali. These forces were supposed to free the Mali’s north of Islamist extremists. Shortly after, on 13 January, 2013, an international French-German military force landed on Mali.
Currently, 5.4 thousand French troops are deployed in Mali. In tandem with the Governmental
forces, they managed to dislodge armed Islamists from settlements. The extremists fled to the desert and resorted to a guerilla war.
Of course, International military peacekeeping missions are not new for the Georgian Army. First it was KFOR operations in Kosovo in 1999 when our officers took part in such mission. Then in 2003-2008, came the turn of the Iraqi mission. From 2009 onward, Georgian troops are involved in ISAF operations.
Notably, in 2004, Georgian soldiers attended to their special duties in three conflict zones simultaneously: Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan (where up to fifty Georgian troops were seconded to take up vigil during the local presidential elections).
Georgian Authorities are likely to move on with sending troops to Mali for the sake of closer integration with the EU whose members - especially France - seek to impose the control over this part of Africa.
Although probability of recurring Russian aggression is all time low today (in the run-up to the 2008 war, nearly two thousand Georgian soldiers used to serve in the Iraqi mission), sending of a large contingent to Africa would be an unreasonable move.
If we want to stand by the EU countries, it would be enough to forward there several HQ officers, military instructors and a doctor for the service in the rear, so that direct contact with Tuaregs and Islamists would be ruled out. Otherwise, we would be bound to receive Afghanistan-style sad notifications from Africa too.