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Controversy in Germany over military engagement in the Sahel

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — On Monday, Germany renewed its intention to assume more military responsibilities in the Sahel region in the face of the jihadist threat, in response to France’s demands, but this raises a sharp split in the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Stability in this region is a key factor for our security in Europe,” said spokesperson Ulrike Dimer, speaking at a press conference in Berlin. “We are following with concern the continuing deterioration of conditions on the ground.”

The spokeswoman reminded that Merkel considered that Germany “should assume more responsibilities on the ground and that is what she wants.”

Defense Minister Ingrett Kramp-Carnbauer, head of Merkel’s conservative “Christian Democratic Union” party, announced last weekend her support for strengthening the military mandate of the German army in the south of the Sahel.

Kramp-Carnbauer considered that France was “involved on the ground with a firmer mandate” compared to the German army currently stationed in Mali, whose mandate is limited to training and oversight tasks, which are subject to tight parliamentary control.

On the other hand, Merkel and her conservative party must deal with the traditional peaceful tendency of German public opinion, deeply rooted since the end of World War II, and with the position of the Social Democratic Party, its partner in the government coalition.

On Sunday, the new head of the Social Democrats, Saskia Eskin, issued a warning in an interview in which she said, “We will not agree to any military attack that was poorly prepared for him,” stressing that the Ministry of Defense “does not redefine” German foreign policy.

These divisions prompted the German government to announce its rejection of French demands for the deployment of special forces in the framework of a European project to strengthen the capabilities of the Malian army.

This refusal was confirmed in a secret letter written in response to a question asked by the Liberal Party in Parliament, according to Monday’s spokesperson for the party, told AFP.

Paris has called for the deployment of European special forces in the Sahel to support the French “Brakhan” force of 4,500 military personnel.

Paris, which has been deploying forces in the Sahel region since 2013, believes that the goal is to strengthen the capabilities of the armies of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso to confront jihadists.

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