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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

Ahead of 29 July presidential election, intercommunal violence continued in centre and suspected jihadist attacks continued in centre and north. In Mopti region in centre, after two more armed groups claiming to be community defence forces emerged in May, Dogon ethnic militia 23 June allegedly killed at least 22 Fulani civilians in attack on Koumaga village. Fulani associations accused army of executing 25 Fulani civilians 13 June in Mopti region, govt opened investigation. UN mission (MINUSMA) 26 June said army had killed twelve civilians 19 May in Boulikessi after unidentified attacker killed soldier. In centre and north, attacks continued on national and international forces and on civilians. In Mopti region, unidentified assailants ambushed army convoy 9 June, killing two soldiers; alleged jihadists same day clashed with army in Boni, three soldiers and thirteen assailants reportedly killed; unidentified gunmen reportedly killed gendarme in Toguéré-Toumbé 18 June; explosive device same day killed four civilians near Dialloubé. Car bombing at headquarters of G5 Sahel force in Sévaré, Mopti region 29 June set off gun battle; two soldiers, one civilian and two attackers killed; al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Muslims and Islam claimed attack. In north, assailants shelled MINUSMA camps in Timbuktu and Kidal regions 2 and 12 June respectively. Counter-insurgency operations continued: in Ménaka region in east, Platform coalition member Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies and mainly ethnic Dossaak Movement for the Salvation of Azawad early June reportedly fought with combatants allegedly linked to Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in Akabar area, nine ISGS reportedly killed. In Mopti region, army mid-June reportedly killed ten suspected militants in Karakine; following crackdown on suspected jihadists and allegedly allied ethnic militias, govt 19 June said soldiers had been involved in extrajudicial killings. In run-up to presidential vote, security forces 2 June dispersed banned opposition protest, at least 25 people injured. Ruling party and opposition met 7 June and next day another protest held peacefully. 

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

Deputy Project Director, West Africa
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

Deputy Project Director, West Africa
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

Deputy Project Director, West Africa
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

Deputy Project Director, West Africa
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

Deputy Project Director, West Africa

Latest Updates

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.

Also available in Français
Statement / Africa

Twelve Points for the New African Union Commission Chairperson

Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.

Also available in Français
Commentary / Africa

The Sahel: Mali’s Crumbling Peace Process and the Spreading Jihadist Threat

With jihadists and armed groups exploiting political and security vacuums across the Sahel, Mali and neighbouring states will continue to face insecurity. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rethink international development strategies and to support local government initiatives that combat radicalisation.


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Hannah Armstrong

Senior Analyst, West Africa