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GAR resuming patrols in Gao, Mali, and Somalia takes action against al-Shabaab

September 7-14, 2022 | Issue X - AFRICOM

Mitchell Dallas, Nancy Lattimer, AFRICOM Team

Rohan Rajesh, Editor; Manja Vitasovic, Senior Editor

MINUSMA German and Dutch troops[1]

Date: September 7, 2022

Location: Gao, Gao Region, Mali

Parties involved: German government; German Armed Forces (GAF); Malian government; Malian Armed Forces (FAMa); United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali); Russian Private Military Contractors (PMCs); Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM); Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

The event: The GAF announced on Wednesday that its units had resumed reconnaissance patrols around the city of Gao. The GAF had stopped patrols on August 12 after the Malian junta denied GAF aircraft overflight permission to rotate personnel. Diplomatic relations between Germany and Mali have worsened since Russian PMCs arrived in Mali.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The GAF likely resumed operations after developing a way to rotate troops without sending aircraft into Mali, likely by moving troops by land from a neighboring country. The Malian junta very likely accepted this workaround to avoid criticism from the German government while likely regaining the GAF’s reconnaissance capabilities, consisting of roving patrols in armored vehicles. The FAMa were likely unable to replicate these capabilities, likely in need of a resumption of GAF patrols to continue fighting JNIM insurgents. The redeployment likely indicates that the GAF will continue deploying forces to Mali despite the diplomatic rift.

  • JNIM and ISGS will very likely target German troops, likely placing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along patrol routes, attacking German convoys, or assaulting the Gao military installation. Germany will likely blame the FAMa for German casualties from an attack on the base, and there is a roughly even chance Germany will withdraw from MINUSMA. This would very likely end the suspended EUTM Mali mission, almost certainly hindering MINUSMA operations and worsening security in Mali’s north and central regions. MINUSMA is unlikely to extend its mandate with reduced capabilities, very likely resulting in human rights abuses as Mali’s junta will very likely rely on Russian PMCs’ support for its counterinsurgency operations.

Date: September 9, 2022

Location: Mubarak, Lower Shabelle Region, Somalia

Parties involved: Somalia; Somali Armed Forces (SAF); Somali civilians; Al-Shabaab

The event: Somalia’s military killed an al-Shabaab commander and an extortion ringleader during an operation in Mubarak on Friday. Al-Shabaab claimed that a SAF airstrike during the operation killed 10 civilians.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Al-Shabaab will likely seek a new base for extortion operations, likely capturing a village along a major roadway with significant commerce. Al-Shabaab will very likely target the village’s security before the assault, likely ambushing local police and military with automatic weapons and explosives in preparatory actions. Al-Shabaab will likely extort the village’s business owners, demand taxes from captured Somali civilians, and collect tolls from travelers along the roadway, almost certainly using the funds to pay their militants, recruit, and purchase weapons and supplies for attacks.

  • Al-Shabaab almost certainly claimed the airstrike caused civilian deaths to alienate the civilian population from the government. The Somali government will very likely be unable to stop al-Shabaab’s campaign to hurt the SAF’s image, likely decreasing Somali civilians’ trust in the government and leading some to join al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab’s propaganda is very unlikely to prevent future SAF airstrikes on al-Shabaab targets.


[2] Germany Resumes UN-led Reconnaissance Patrols In Mali, Barron’s, September 2022

[3] Somali Military Kills Senior Al-Shabab Figures, Frees Hostages, Voice of America, September 2022


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