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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.