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

Unchanged Situation

Bamako expelled UN mission’s human rights chief, tensions between interim authorities and northern armed groups reached new heights, and new reports of human rights abuses emerged amid military operations in centre.

Relations with UN mission MINUSMA deteriorated further. After civil society representative Aminata Cheick Dicko 27 Jan denounced abuses by Malian and Russian forces before UN Security Council, govt 5 Feb requested MINUSMA’s human rights chief leave country within 48 hours, citing his “partiality” in choosing Dicko for Security Council testimony.

Govt strengthened relations with Russia and military-led neighbours. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 7 Feb met with Interim President Col. Goïta in first ever visit to capital Bamako, saluted ongoing military cooperation. Burkinabé PM Kyélem de Tambèla 1 Feb travelled to Bamako to discuss bilateral security cooperation, while PM Choguel Maïga 23-26 Feb travelled to Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou, signed counter-terrorism cooperation agreement with Burkinabé counterpart. FM Diop 9 Feb met with Burkinabé and Guinean counterparts in Ouagadougou, discussed joining forces against West African regional bloc ECOWAS sanctions (see Burkina Faso and Guinea).

Northern armed groups and Bamako exchanged threats of military action. Permanent Strategic Framework bringing together signatory groups of 2015 Algiers Accord 1 Feb met with accord’s international mediation mechanism (led by Algeria), warned armed groups would “take action” if govt continues to block accord’s implementation. Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), coalition of three signatory rebel groups, 8 Feb announced merger into single entity. Member of transitional legislature 10 Feb claimed war with signatory armed groups was “inevitable”; CMA immediately denounced “belligerent” comments. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslim (JNIM) leader Iyad ag Ghaly late Jan-early Feb toured northern Mali, reportedly met with local notables including leaders of signatory armed groups to discuss cooperation against Islamic State-Sahel Province.

Army faced allegations of abuses amid ongoing operations in centre. Military 7 Feb announced operation against JNIM in Korientzé village (Mopti region) had killed 37 fighters. Locals alleged Malian and Russian Wagner forces 13 Feb killed five civilians in Soumouni village (Ségou region), whose inhabitants are believed to have reached agreement with JNIM.

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In The News

8 Feb 2023
The Malian army is now demonstrating its ability to organize complex operations, particularly in the center of the country. Le Monde

Ibrahim Maiga

Senior Adviser, Sahel
5 Oct 2022
What we see in Mali is that Russia does not bring more security or improvements in the situation. The Russian army in Ukraine is not doing well, and in Mali, the Wagner G... Foreign Policy

Rinaldo Depagne

Deputy Program Director, Africa & Project Director, West Africa
26 Jan 2022
Considering Ecowas’ recent failures to deter coups, what happened in Mali and Burkina Faso may inspire other officers in the region. Bloomberg

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim

Consulting Analyst, Sahel
27 May 2021
Everyone seems obsessed with what is going on in Bamako, and that is another indication for the people in [Mali's] countryside that the state is not coming back. The Washington Post

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Project Director, Sahel
25 Sep 2020
Mali has a lot of issues related to the Sahel. Al-Jazeera

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Project Director, Sahel
19 Aug 2020
Eight years of effort, investment, presence to basically return to the situation of Mali at the time of the 2012 coup, with a confused situation in Bamako, more violent a... France24

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Project Director, Sahel

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