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.
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.
While jihadist and intercommunal violence continued in centre and north, govt and ruling coalition increased consultations with opposition aimed at facilitating reforms and elections scheduled in 2019. In rare move, President Keïta 14 Feb spoke on phone with main opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé; call followed meetings between leaders of ruling coalition Together for Mali (EPM) and opposition coalition Front for the Salvation of Democracy (FSD), including 12 Feb meeting, to discuss constitutional revision, electoral and redistricting reforms, and legislative and district elections in 2019. Two prominent Muslim leaders, president of High Islamic Council Mahmoud Dicko and Chérif of Nioro Bouyé Haidara, 10 Feb held rally of estimated 60,000 people in capital Bamako to denounce govt’s mishandling of violence in centre; protesters demanded PM Maïga resign. In centre, French Barkhane airstrike in Dialloubé, Mopti region 13 Feb killed around ten suspected jihadists and allowed armed forces to free two NGO workers. Barkhane and Malian forces 23 Feb killed fifteen suspected members of Islamist group Katiba Macina near Dialloubé. Former prefect of Ténenkou, Mopti region, abducted in May 2018 by Katiba Macina jihadists, freed 18 Feb in unclear circumstances. Unidentified assailants 26 Feb killed man in Diankabou town, Mopti region, and booby-trapped his body, bomb killed seventeen civilians. Suspected Islamist militants 24 Feb attacked Koulikoro military camp outside Bamako where EU training mission is based, security forces repelled assailants, killing several. In north, two factions of pro-national unity Platform coalition clashed in Gao early Feb, four killed. Under pressure from other parts of country and international actors, ex-rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) 18 Feb withdrew regulations on social and political life introduced 30 Jan in Kidal region. In east, army killed mayor of Andéramboukane 4 Feb in Ménaka region, allegedly after his vehicle refused to stop at checkpoint. Govt and armed groups took small steps to implement Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) element of 2015 Algiers Peace Agreement; govt 6 Feb said 5,000 combatants in centre had registered for DDR, and 600 demobilised combatants and eighteen high-ranking rebel officers had been selected to join security forces. Army 11 Feb said 420 officers who deserted during or after 2012 crisis had accepted to rejoin army, as provided for in peace deal.
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
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.
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.
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.