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.
Ceasefire held in north between rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) and pro-national unity Platform coalition initiated in Sept, but attacks on national and international forces continued in north and centre. Major attacks included: in north, unidentified gunmen 3 Nov attacked two army positions in Gao region, two assailants and six soldiers killed; one soldier killed when his vehicle triggered bomb in Timbuktu region 6 Nov. Jihadist coalition Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) 8 Nov claimed recent attacks on UN mission (MINUSMA) in Timbuktu region in north and Mopti region in centre. Unidentified gunmen 9 Nov ambushed MINUSMA convoy in Mopti region, killing two peacekeepers. Attack claimed by GSIM on MINUSMA-army joint patrol in Indelimane, Ménaka region 24 Nov left three peacekeepers and one soldier dead. Another peacekeeper killed in attack near Douentza same day. UN said three MINUSMA camps in Aguelhok, Tessalit and Kidal cities in north came under rocket and mortar attack 28 Nov, no reported casualties. GSIM said French airstrike late Oct killed three jihadists and eleven Malian soldiers it had taken hostage; French officials said “hostages” had turned jihadist. Joint force of G5 Sahel countries (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania) deployed first mission “Hawbi” 27 Oct-11 Nov in Mali-Niger-Burkina border area between Ansongo (Mali) and Diori (Burkina Faso) involving troops from three host countries; mission 7 Nov arrested officer of rebel group National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (CMA coalition member) and seven other CMA gunmen near Tessit, Ansongo; 12 Nov released all eight men after CMA condemned “arbitrary arrest”. Govt 27 Nov said it would postpone regional elections due 17 Dec until April 2018 citing insecurity. Artisanal miners reportedly clashed in Guinea-Mali border area 27 Nov leaving at least six dead.
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.
The Sahel’s trajectory is worrying; poverty and population growth, combined with growing jihadi extremism, contraband and human trafficking constitute the perfect storm of actual and potential instability. Without holistic, sustained efforts against entrenched criminal networks, misrule and underdevelopment, radicalisation and migration are likely to spread and exacerbate.
Fighting recently resumed in Mali, while a peace accord remains a façade. Both sides, with help from international mediators, need to re-open negotiations. They must go beyond prioritising security to include all belligerents and improve access to basic social services, jobs and justice.
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
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.
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.
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.
Originally published in Le Monde