The Mali Government wants the United States to drop its decision to arm embargo Mali as it awaits the delivery of its second C295 transport aircraft from Airbus. The tactical transport aircraft was ordered in December last year and was to supplement the first C295 already in operation since December 2016.
“I have requested the support of these personalities for the lifting of the blockade in order to allow the delivery of the CASA C-295 aircraft acquired with Mali’s own funds,” said the minister of foreign affairs in a Facebook post on his arrival in Bamako after his apparent mission to the US from 16th to 20th August.
The aircraft was supposed to have arrived by the end of June this year.
According to multiple sources, the US government is arm embargoing Mali for the alleged recruitment of child soldiers by the Malian army, which the Malian government has openly denied the government involvement. While acknowledging there were child soldiers in the country, Mr Diop said they were recruited by other armed groups that later merged with the Malian army.
“In reality, it is not the government that is involved. It is about recruitment into certain armed groups that have joined the government,” Mr Diop was quoted telling the Voice of America (VOA) in an interview.
US ambassador in Mali, Dennis Hankins noted that Mali was under two sanctions in that prevents it from benefitting from some kinds of security assistance and that full cooperation between the two nations will resume once the political transition in Mali is completed with a democratic election in February 2022.
Mali underwent a coup in May this year nine months after ousting another coup, overthrowing two presidents in a year.
Overwhelmingly, the U.S. sanctions countries that sponsor terrorism or perpetrate human rights violations on their people.
As of June 2021, countries or regions subject to U.S. sanctions (either unilaterally or in part) include the Balkans, Belarus, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine/Russia, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
The new generation C295 is an ideal aircraft for defense and civic mission to the benefit of society, such as humanitarian actions, maritime patrol, and environmental surveillance missions, amongst others. Thanks to its robustness and reliability, and with simple systems, this medium sized tactical airlifter provides wide versatility and flexibility, necessary for personnel, troop and bulky/palletized cargo transportation, casualty evacuation, communication and logistic duties or certified air-dropping capabilities.
Its mix of dual technology civil/military equipment ensure success on demanding tactical mission, growth potential for future equipment as well as compatibility with the latest civil airspace environment. The C295 is part of Airbus Military’s family of light and medium airlifters which also include the smaller C212 and CN235 platforms.
The aircraft is capable of transporting more payload over larger distances in the hot and high conditions, resulting in fuel consumption savings of around 4% and increased safety margins in mountainous regions.
Previously produced by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA, a Spanish aircraft manufacturer that is now part of Airbus Defense and Space), the C295’s production takes place at Airbus’ facility in Spain. The aircraft has received orders from military and civil operators all over the world, from Canada and Egypt to Spain and Indonesia.
Mali Air Force previously operated two An-26 aircraft in its fixed-wing transport fleet.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo