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.
Fighting has resumed between the Wagner Group-supported Malian army and a coalition of armed groups that signed the 2015 peace agreement, jeopardising the accord. Crisis Group experts Ibrahim Maïga and Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim explain what caused these clashes and what each side could lose.
Military authorities appeared committed to taking control of 2015 peace deal signatories’ stronghold of Kidal, and could launch offensive in days or weeks to come.
Escalation between former rebel groups and govt forces continued in north. In Kidal region, govt and allied Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 7 Oct carried out strikes and took control of Anefis town from Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), which gathers northern armed groups signatory to 2015 peace agreement. As part of second phase of withdrawal, UN mission (MINUSMA) mid-Oct started leaving Tessalit and Aguelhok camps in Kidal region; two Malian military planes that landed in Tessalit to take control of base 16 Oct came under fire from CSP-affiliated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), who worry arrival of Malian troops in Tessalit may be last step before offensive on Kidal town. CSP 31 Oct claimed takeover of vacated MINUSMA camp in Kidal town. Meanwhile in Gao region, CMA 2 and 4 Oct claimed seizing Bamba and Taoussa bases from army. Divisions emerged within CSP as founding member Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) late Sept announced departure from coalition over CMA’s bellicose stance toward govt; MSA Sec Gen 8 Oct said conflict only benefited jihadists, and several other CSP members also expressed commitment to peace.
Jihadist violence continued in centre and north. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 7 Oct ambushed soldiers near Batouma, Douentza region, killing 16, and 10 Oct ambushed joint convoy of army, Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen, and Wagner near Sibo village, Bandiagara region, claiming to have killed ten. Civilians continued to pay heavy toll in north. Wagner 8 Oct allegedly killed seven civilians in Takoukate village, Kidal region, while Wagner and govt forces 15 Oct reportedly killed six civilians and committed sexual abuse in Agumeimin and Tichilit villages, Timbuktu region.
Political tensions continued around postponed presidential election. Prominent religious and political figure, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, convened demonstration for 13 Oct in capital Bamako to protest indefinite delay to presidential election, while pro-govt civil society organisation called for counterprotest; authorities 9 Oct banned both gatherings, citing “high risk of unrest”.
MONUSCO has largely failed [in DR Congo] because its deployment has not had a significant impact on security over the past decade.
The Malian army is now demonstrating its ability to organize complex operations, particularly in the center of the country.
What we see in Mali is that Russia does not bring more security or improvements in the situation. The Russian army in Ukraine is not doing well, and in Mali, the Wagner G...
At Bamako’s request, the UN Security Council has begun drawing down the UN peacekeeping operation in Mali. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Richard Gowan and Daniel Forti explore the implications for blue helmet missions elsewhere on the continent.
On 16 June, Bamako asked the UN Security Council to withdraw the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts Jean-Hervé Jézéquel and Ibrahim Maïga look at the reasons behind the Malian authorities’ decision as well as its consequences.
Crisis-ridden Mali and Burkina Faso face jihadist insurgency and political turmoil. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Spring Update, Crisis Group outlines what the EU and its member states can do to prevent these two countries from falling into further regional isolation.
In a strategic shift, the Malian authorities have turned away from France and chosen Russia as their main military ally. Relations between Bamako and other Western and regional partners are also deteriorating. Mali and its partners should work to rebuild more balanced diplomatic relations.
The UK, Côte d’Ivoire and other nations plan to pull their troops out of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, clouding its future as it undergoes internal review. In this Q&A, Crisis Group experts discuss the mission’s challenges and scenarios for what could come next.
The Malian government’s battle with jihadist insurgencies goes on after two coups in Bamako in the last two years. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to endorse talks about a return to constitutional rule, increase support for civil society and back electoral reform initiatives.
In this episode of Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk with Sahel experts Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim and Richard Moncrieff about France’s announcement it will pull troops from Mali, and what the withdrawal means for the fighting against jihadist insurgents.
Authorities in Mali seem to be considering negotiations with Jamaat Nusratul Islam wal-Muslimin, the country’s largest Islamist insurgency. Pursuing talks will be a tall order, given the stakes and the group’s al-Qaeda connection. Both the government and the militants should begin with incremental steps.
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