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Mali

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

Intercommunal and jihadist violence continued in centre and Ménaka region in east and govt blocked protests over electoral calendar. In centre, tit-for-tat attacks continued largely by Dogon and Bambara militias, known as Dozo, against Fulani civilians and, less so, by Fulani-dominated jihadist groups against Dogon and Bambara civilians. Army reported one soldier killed in “terrorist” attack near Bankass, Mopti region 5 Dec; Fulani self-defence group said four of its members killed in attack. Arrest of three Dozo accused of murder in Bankass near Burkina Faso border 17 Dec sparked public anger and alleged violence against Fulani. In Ménaka region in east, suspected Fulani combatants affiliated with Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 12 Dec attacked campsites in Tinabaw, killing 47 Tuareg Daousak. After rumours spread of planned retaliation by Daousak militia, many fled to Niger 16 Dec. After French and Malian authorities late Nov reported killing of Amadou Kouffa, leader of jihadist group Macina Liberation Front, leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Abdelmalek Droukdel 11 Dec indicated Kouffa was alive. Authorities 6 Dec said they had dismantled jihadist cell in Koutiala town in south near border with Burkina Faso. French airstrike night of 19-20 Dec killed at least five suspected jihadists in south east near Niger border. In capital Bamako, governor 4 Dec banned gatherings in several areas. Security forces 8 and 15 Dec repressed opposition protests in Bamako seeking to denounce bad governance and extension of MPs’ mandate until June 2019 due to postponement of legislative election. Over 50 organisations early Dec denounced govt-proposed Law of National Understanding which is envisaged in 2015 peace agreement, arguing that it would allow impunity. Parliament 13 Dec delayed vote on draft law, requesting additional information from govt.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

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
13 Sep 2016
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. Ouest France

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
6 Sep 2016
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. Bloomberg

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project
17 Aug 2016
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 Política Exterior

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Director, Sahel Project

Latest Updates

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

Commentary / Africa

The Sahel: Promoting Political alongside Military Action

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.

Open Letter / Africa

Open Letter to the UN Security Council on Peacekeeping in Mali

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.

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Hannah Armstrong

Consulting Analyst, Sahel