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

Amid political tensions, inter-Malian dialogue ended and recommended extension of transition; conflict persisted in centre and north. 

Inter-Malian dialogue concluded, recommending transition extension. Final stage of national dialogue took place in capital Bamako 6-10 May as key armed groups remained outside of the process and several opposition parties and civil society groups boycotted initiative. Concerns grew that military would use process to prolong hold on power as consultations concluded with report recommending three-year extension of transition and allowing transitional President Col. Goïta to be presidential candidate when elections held; opposition grouping 12 May called dialogue “grotesque political trap” while leader of opposition African Socialist Democratic Party said dialogue only “about securing benefits for ruling junta”. Meanwhile, in continued suppression of civil and political freedoms, court 21 May sentenced university professor to two years imprisonment for harming state’s reputation and defamation over criticism of govt.

Violence remained widespread in centre and north. Clashes between armed forces, Russian paramilitary Africa Corps (formerly Wagner Group) and militants continued. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 3 May attacked base in Diafarabe town, Segou region, killing at least ten soldiers. In north, jihadists attacked civilians in Gao region including Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 22 May killing at least three civilians in Balga village, Ansongo commune. Reports of killings of civilians during anti-jihadist operations persisted; notably army and Russian paramilitary patrol 16 May allegedly killed nine civilians in Tahaganet village and same day two in Jenchichi village in Kidal region (north). Meanwhile, following April clash between JNIM and armed groups of Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), reports emerged 17 May that CSP leadership was seeking non-aggression pact with JNIM. 

Govt strengthened ties with Sahel neighbours, tensions persisted with Mauritania. Foreign Ministers of Alliance of Sahel States (AES) 17 May convened in Niger to finalise alliance documents; AES 20 May began joint military exercises alongside Chadian and Togolese troops in western Niger. Tensions, however, persisted with Mauritania over cross-border incidents (see Mauritania) as govt remained agitated by alleged presence of rebel groups and jihadists on Mauritanian side of border. 

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In The News

15 Հուն 2023
MONUSCO has largely failed [in DR Congo] because its deployment has not had a significant impact on security over the past decade. DW

Jean-Hervé Jezequel

Project Director, Sahel
8 Փետ 2023
The Malian army is now demonstrating its ability to organize complex operations, particularly in the center of the country. Le Monde

Ibrahim Maiga

Senior Adviser, Sahel
5 Հոկ 2022
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... Foreign Policy

Rinaldo Depagne

Deputy Program Director, Africa & Project Director, West Africa

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