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.
Le primat donné aux réponses militaires et le recours à des groupes armés à base communautaire pour combattre les mouvements jihadistes implantés dans la zone frontalière entre le Niger et le Mali n’ont fait qu’accentuer les tensions intercommunautaires. Les autorités nigériennes doivent adopter une approche plus politique, incluant réconciliation entre communautés, dialogue avec les militants et amnistie dans certains cas.
Signatories of 2015 Algiers peace agreement recommitted to implement deal, as intercommunal violence and attacks on security forces continued in centre, north and east. Govt and head of UN mission (MINUSMA) 15 Oct signed “pact for peace”, recommended by UN, renewing commitment to accelerated implementation of 2015 deal. Other signatories, former rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) and pro-national unity Platform coalition, committed to pact separately. Draft bill to redraw administrative boundaries – reform included in 2015 deal – leaked 10 Oct, triggering criticism; proposed division of territory into twenty regions instead of current ten and creation of dozens of new local administrative areas (cercles) would seem to favour nomadic communities, particularly Tuareg and Arabs, by giving them more seats in parliament and local councils. In centre, unidentified gunmen 15 Oct attacked Telly village, Mopti region, reportedly targeting ethnic Fulani, at least eleven civilians killed. Military vehicle hit explosive device night of 10-11 Oct between Djoungani and Koro in Mopti region, three soldiers killed. Explosive device 27 Oct injured four UN peacekeepers in Konna, Mopti region. PM Maïga in Mopti city 2 Oct expressed support for dialogue initiatives between ethnic Fulani, Bambara and Dogon communities by NGO Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and urged communal militias to take part. Having declared unilateral ceasefire, ethnic Dogon militia Dan Nan Ambassagou early Oct said it would lay down weapons. Maïga also visited Tenenkou town in centre 13 Oct in show of state authority. In north, explosive device reportedly injured five UN peacekeepers 3 Oct near Kidal city. Unidentified assailants 27 Oct attacked UN base in Ber, Timbuktu region, two UN peacekeepers killed; claimed by jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 29 Oct. In east, army, French Barkhane force and local allies mainly ethnic Dossaak Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) and Platform coalition member Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) continued operations in Mali-Niger-Burkina Faso border area; army supported by Barkhane aircraft 16 Oct destroyed jihadist base in Ndaki, near Burkina Faso border. Landmine reportedly killed civilian 16 Oct near Ménaka. Dozens of opposition parties and associations, including party of main opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé, 6 Oct created new coalition, Front for the Salvation of Democracy (FSD). Constitutional court 16 Oct postponed legislative elections, initially scheduled for Oct, sine die, extending mandate of MPs to June 2019.
Créée en février 2017, la Force conjointe du G5 Sahel est une force de nouvelle génération dans un espace sahélien où se bousculent des initiatives militaires et diplomatiques parfois concurrentes. Il ne suffira pas de fournir des armes et de l’argent pour résoudre les crises sahéliennes. Pour atteindre ses objectifs, la force doit gagner la confiance des populations et des puissances régionales et obtenir leur soutien.
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.
Violence is escalating in Central Mali, often neglected as the world focuses on problems in the country’s north. Radical groups and criminal gangs are exploiting years of short-sighted security policies that have lost the state much of its legitimacy. The government needs to recognise that state authority also rests on public services and dialogue with its people.
Hesitant steps toward peace in Mali have been helped by the recent pacts signed in Anefis by pro-government armed groups and by rebel representatives. While not sufficient or without risks, they are rooted in local initiatives and tackle issues left out of June’s Bamako accord. This offers a serious opportunity to put the peace process back on track.
The Sahel’s trajectory is worrying; poverty and population growth, combined with growing jihadi extremism, contraband and human trafficking constitute the perfect storm of actual and potential instability. Without holistic, sustained efforts against entrenched criminal networks, misrule and underdevelopment, radicalisation and migration are likely to spread and exacerbate.
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.
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?
"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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
To address growing violence in Mali that is undermining the Algeria-brokered peace accord, the UN Security Council should in June renew the mandate of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with stronger political and civil affairs components and a greater role for the peacekeepers in local reconciliation.