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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

Political crisis escalated after tens of thousands demonstrated against President Keïta; meanwhile authorities faced new allegations of extrajudicial killings amid persistent jihadist and intercommunal violence in centre and north. In capital Bamako, tens of thousands took to streets 5 and 19 June to call on Keïta to step down, citing worsening insecurity, failure to secure release of opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé abducted in north in March, and controversial annulment of parts of legislative elections’ results by Constitutional Court in April; protests followed calls by coalition of opposition and civil society groups led by prominent religious leader Imam Mahmoud Dicko. Keïta 11 June reappointed PM Boubou Cissé after he resigned same day, 16 June promised to open consultations on Constitutional Court’s decision and form unity govt; opposition immediately rejected latter proposal. Regional bloc West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) 18 June sent high-level delegation to mediate dispute, and 20 June called for formation of unity govt and partial rerun of legislative elections. In Mopti region in centre, army faced new accusations of extrajudicial killings. Ethnic Fulani association 6 June said soldiers killed at least 14 civilians in village of Niangassadiou, Douentza circle 3 June, and 26 others in village of Binédama, Koro circle 5 June. Govt 7 June announced investigation. Meanwhile in Mopti, jihadist violence continued. IED 7 June killed at least eight civilians on Dianwely-Douentza axis. Suspected jihadists 27 June attacked military in village of Dinangourou near Burkina Faso border, killing at least two soldiers. In neighbouring Ségou region, suspected jihadists 14 June ambushed military patrol near Bouka Wéré locality, killing at least 24 soldiers. In north, French forces 3 June killed leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Abdelmalik Droukdal in operation in Talhandak, Kidal region near border with Algeria; French Barkhane forces same day killed several suspected jihadists near Ouatagouna town, Gao region. Meanwhile, suspected jihadists 13 June attacked UN mission (MINUSMA) convoy near Tarkint village, also Gao region, killing two peacekeepers.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

4 Nov 2019
The main fault-line for conflict in the Mali-Niger border has shifted. A year ago, it was drawn between communities. Now it lies between militants loosely fighting under an IS banner and state forces. Twitter

Hannah Armstrong

Senior Consulting Analyst, Sahel
22 Oct 2019
Les groupes djihadistes sont passés experts dans l’instrumentalisation des conflits pour mieux s'implanter. RFI

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
30 May 2019
Dialoguer [au Mali] pourrait permettre d’obtenir des cessez-le-feu locaux, donc de réduire la violence exercée contre les civils. Le Monde

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim

Consulting Analyst, Sahel
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

Senior 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

Latest Updates

Q&A / Africa

Centre du Mali : enrayer le nettoyage ethnique

Une attaque visant des populations peul dans la région de Mopti a fait au moins 134 morts le 23 mars, dernier épisode d'une série de violences intercommunautaires. Dans ce questions-réponses, notre directeur du projet Sahel Jean-Hervé Jézéquel appelle les autorités maliennes à enrayer l'engrenage du nettoyage ethnique.  

Also available in English
Report / Africa

Narcotrafic, violence et politique au Nord du Mali

Dans le Nord du Mali, un trafic de drogue particulièrement concurrentiel suscite de graves violences et entrave l’application de l’accord de paix de 2015. Le Mali et ses partenaires devraient chercher à réduire les effets les plus délétères du narcotrafic en démilitarisant ses acteurs.

Also available in English
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.

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.

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

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Hannah Armstrong

Senior Consulting Analyst, Sahel