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.
In latest blow to 2015 peace agreement, army seized strategic town of Kidal from former separatist armed groups; fighting for control of vast northern region will likely continue in coming weeks.
Army captured formerly separatist armed groups’ stronghold of Kidal. After UN mission (MINUSMA) left Kidal base earlier than planned on 31 Oct, govt forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 11-13 Nov clashed with members of Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), coalition of armed groups signatory to 2015 Algiers Accord, around latter’s stronghold of Kidal; death toll unknown. Transitional President Col. Goïta 14 Nov announced army had seized Kidal town, celebrating major victory; Goïta’s speech was less triumphalist than expected, however, giving credence to idea that maintaining control of Kidal and upcoming campaign for rural areas in Kidal region, where CSP and jihadist groups remain implanted, may be more difficult. Govt forces 16 Nov claimed discovering mass grave in Kidal, accused CSP members of committing atrocities; CSP rejected allegation. Govt and Wagner forces continued to face criticism for impact of northern campaign on local populations. Notably, reports emerged that govt airstrikes 7 Nov killed civilians including children in Kidal town, and that govt forces and Wagner elements 12 Nov executed dozens of detainees in Tonka town, Timbuktu region. Lacking armoured protection or air cover during withdrawal, MINUSMA continued to suffer attacks: UN peacekeepers traveling from Kidal to Gao town 1-3 Nov encountered six explosive devices, leaving at least 37 injured. MINUSMA 18 Nov handed over Ansongo camp, Gao region, to Malian authorities.
Jihadist violence continued in centre and north. In northern Timbuktu region, Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 24 Nov launched simultaneous attacks on army positions in Niafunké and Goundam towns; JNIM claimed taking control of Niafunké camp and killing around 50 soldiers, while military said they repelled attacks. Meanwhile, conflict gave rise to intercommunal violence and abuses, notably in centre. Suspected Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen 2 Nov killed four Fulani pastoralists in Sévaré town, Mopti region. Malian and Wagner troops 7 Nov allegedly killed 12 people near Molodo and Diabaly towns, Ségou region.
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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