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Since 2012, Mali has faced a volatile crisis as political armed groups, including ethnic based movements, jihadist groups and transnational criminal networks, fight for hegemony and the control of trafficking routes in the North. The 2015 peace agreement remains very difficult to implement and signatory groups still resort to violence to settle differences. Jihadist violence against security forces is increasing and militants have gone rural to capitalise on local conflicts and the absence of the State to secure safe havens and new recruits. Mali’s instability has regional consequences as violent extremism spills into neighbouring countries.  Through field research, timely reports and advocacy with regional and local actors, Crisis Group seeks to broaden understanding of the complex roots of violence in Mali via local, gendered and regional lenses and to find solutions to problems of governance.

CrisisWatch Mali

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Massacre of ethnic Fulani late March spurred pressure on govt, including mass protests, forcing PM Maïga and cabinet to resign; ethnic violence continued in centre and could escalate in May, as violence and banditry continued in north. Heeding calls of political and religious leaders, tens of thousands protested in capital Bamako and other cities 5 April to denounce govt’s failure to stop violence in centre and demand PM Maïga’s resignation. President Keïta 16 April said govt would increase troops, UN peacekeepers and French Barkhane forces in centre. PM Maïga and cabinet resigned 19 April, hours before parliament was set to vote on no-confidence motion. Keïta 22 April appointed former Minister of Economy and Finance Boubou Cisse as new PM. In centre, massacre of Fulani at Ogossagou late March exacerbated tensions between Fulani and Dogon communities and fuelled support to their respective militias. Dogon self-defence group Dan Na Ambassagou announced withdrawal from Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reinsertion program 8 April citing insecurity. Residents in Koro 13 April prevented arrest of local Dan Na Ambassagou commander. French Barkhane vehicle detonated mine in Foulséré, Mopti region 2 April, one doctor killed. Bombings in centre 1-22 April killed six civilians, five soldiers and one UN peacekeeper. Unidentified gunmen 11 April attacked Tiofoli in Mopti region killing one. Al-Qaeda linked militants 21 April killed at least eleven soldiers in Guire, claiming attack was revenge for Ogossagou massacre. In Mopti region, unidentified gunmen 25 April killed at least fifteen in Bouldé; 27 April attacked military vehicle in Acharane, killing one soldier. In north, unidentified assailants 3 April fired at UN camp in Kidal, injuring two peacekeepers. Two unidentified gunmen night of 5-6 April killed one civilian in Gao region. Unidentified assailants killed local commander of pro-govt armed group Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) in Talataye, Gao region 7 April. Unidentified gunmen 11 April killed one MSA officer and at least one other in Ménaka region. Army vehicle detonated mine in Ménaka region 18 April, two soldiers killed. Pro-govt armed group Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) 24 April accused army of arresting and executing three Tuaregs in Gao region. Expert committee on constitutional reform 1 April submitted new draft constitution, which includes creation of senate and permanent electoral commission and substitution of regional council with regional assembly.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Jul 2018
Jihadist groups present since the 2012 crisis in Mali exploited local unrest and the weak presence of the state in northern Mali to launch cross-border attacks against the Nigerien army... Despite direct support from Chadian troops since 2015 and closer collaboration with the Nigerian army, Nigerien forces have been unable to fully secure the border with Nigeria from attacks, including some linked to the Islamic State. Voice of America

Hannah Armstrong

Consulting Analyst, Sahel
6 Mar 2017
Are we building any kind of sustainable peace [in Mali] through this kind of process that gives the most resources to the guys with guns? Reuters

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
17 Nov 2016
"We're again, as we've been several times since 2013, at a defining moment [in the fight against jihadist groups in northern Mali]. On the political side things have improved, but it is very worrying security-wise. Daily Nation

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
13 Sep 2016
Les populations du centre [du Mali] ont vu dans l'accès aux armes de guerre un moyen de se protéger et parfois de contester les hiérarchies en place. Ouest France

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
6 Sep 2016
Despite the training provided by the European Union since 2013, the [Malian] army lacks capacity until today. We’re talking about a long-term undertaking. Bloomberg

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
17 Aug 2016
Las partes se niegan a deponer las armas antes de saber quién va a gobernar localmente, cuál será su destino y qué posiciones serán para la Plataforma y cuáles para el CMA Política Exterior

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project

Latest Updates

Watch List 2018 – Second Update

Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on seizing a chance for peace in Mali, avoiding escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, mitigating conflict in Syria’s peripheral regions, and helping Somalia overcome obstacles to reform. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Commentary / Africa

Mali’s Elections Are an Opportunity to Reboot the Peace Process

Inter-communal violence along the Niger-Mali border and a scattered jihadist presence have left large swathes of Mali insecure. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 annual early-warning update for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges Mali’s next president to reinvigorate the Bamako peace agreement and embark on long-term structural reform.

Op-Ed / Africa

A la frontière Niger-Mali, le nécessaire dialogue avec les hommes en armes

La stratégie qui privilégie une option militaire disproportionnée à la frontière entre le Niger et le Mali fait peser un risque sur la région : celui de créer un nouveau foyer d’insurrection. C'est le constat que dresse l’International Crisis Group, qui fait une série de recommandations.

Originally published in Jeune Afrique

Commentary / Africa

The Sahel: Promoting Political alongside Military Action

Rural insurgencies across the Sahel are destabilising the region and undermining local security and governance. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to continue support for the Alliance for the Sahel and promote local dialogue to buttress law and order.

Report / Africa

The Politics of Islam in Mali: Separating Myth from Reality

Settling the place of Islam in Mali’s society and politics is a less visible but longer-term challenge to the state than its rebellious north and stalled peace process. The government should work toward a partnership with religious authorities to enable them to play a stabilising role.

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Hannah Armstrong

Consulting Analyst, Sahel