Norway Shuts Down Embassy in Mali as UN Peacekeepers Withdraw, Raises Concerns about Security and Stability in the Region

Norway Shuts Down Embassy in Mali as UN Peacekeepers Withdraw, Raises Concerns about Security and Stability in the Region

Norway has announced that it will close its embassy in Mali due to the withdrawal of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force from the West African nation. The Norwegian government expressed concerns about the impact this withdrawal will have on the security of Norwegian and other diplomatic missions and international organizations. The decision comes after Mali's Foreign Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, demanded that the UN peacekeepers, who have been combating an Islamic insurgency for over a decade, leave immediately, claiming that they have failed in their mission.

The UN Security Council subsequently adopted a resolution terminating the mandate for the UN force, known as MINUSMA, and requested that its withdrawal be completed by the end of the year. Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stated that their embassy in Bamako, Mali's capital, will be closed by the end of the year. Norway will need to find alternative ways to protect its interests in Mali going forward. In addition to representing Norway in Mali, the diplomatic mission also serves Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad.

This move follows last year's order by Colonel Assimi Goita, who had appointed himself as Mali's transitional president, for French troops and a European Union force to leave the country. The UN peacekeepers, consisting of more than 15,000 personnel, were part of one of the most dangerous UN missions globally, with over 170 peacekeepers killed in Mali since 2013, according to the United Nations. Mali has been grappling with an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Although extremist rebels were initially dispersed from power in the country's northern cities with the assistance of a French-led military operation, they regrouped in the desert and resumed launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies.

The growing insecurity in Mali has not only affected the nation itself but has also contributed to the overall instability in West Africa's volatile Sahel region. Mali has experienced two coups since 2020, with the military vowing to halt the jihadi violence. The closure of Norway's embassy in Mali raises concerns about the country's ability to combat the ongoing security challenges and maintain stability in the region. It underscores the need for international cooperation and support to effectively address the complex security situation in Mali and the broader Sahel region.

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