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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

Despite 28 March signing of new roadmap to implement 2015 peace agreement by govt, ex-rebel Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA) and pro-national unity Platform coalition, at 11 April UN Security Council meeting with France, UK and U.S. advised council to impose sanctions on spoilers. Attacks continued to target govt forces (FAMA), international forces and civilians, as counter-insurgency operations continued in north, north east and centre. In north, gunmen 2 April killed FAMA soldier in Timbuktu city. Unidentified assailants 5 April fired shells at UN mission (MINUSMA) camp in Kidal region, killing two peacekeepers. Assailants disguised as UN peacekeepers 14 April attacked MINUSMA and French Barkhane camp in Timbuktu city, killing one peacekeeper, fifteen assailants reportedly killed; jihadist alliance Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) claimed responsibility. Barkhane had reportedly recently killed alleged weapons expert and trainer for jihadist groups in Timbuktu region, and four other alleged jihadists. French forces said they had killed three alleged jihadists 21 April in confrontation near Goudam village, west of Timbuktu. In north east, joint operations of Barkhane, Platform coalition member Self-Defence Group of Imrad Tuareg and Allies (GATIA) and CMA splinter group Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) 1 April neutralised 60 alleged GSIM militants in Akabar area, Ménaka region. Assailants same day ambushed MSA-GATIA unit near Akabar, killing at least three members. MSA-GATIA and FAMA, backed by Barkhane, 6 April clashed with alleged jihadists in same area, two GATIA and unknown number of assailants killed. MSA-GATIA unit 10 April killed three suspected jihadists near Niger border. MSA 15 April said gunmen on motorbikes had killed one of its officers in Ménaka region. Suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara militants 26-27 April attacked villages of Awakassa and Anderanboucane, Ménaka region, killing at least 40 Tuaregs. In centre, gunmen 2 April attacked checkpoint in Ségou region, killing gendarme. Army 20 April killed fifteen suspected jihadists in Tina forest, Mopti region. Army 6 April killed fourteen suspected jihadists in Dioura, Mopti region; army said they had tried to escape, while local sources accused army of summary executions.

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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

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.

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.

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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.


Forced out of Towns in the Sahel, Africa’s Jihadists Go Rural

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.

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