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

Govt-sponsored inter-Malian dialogue took initial steps amid ongoing stifling of civic and political rights; jihadist and other armed violence continued.

Initial phase of dialogue approved, albeit without main rebel and jihadist groups. Piloting Committee 4 March submitted terms of reference for Inter-Malian dialogue process to transitional President Col. Goïta, following approval from representatives from capital Bamako, regions and diaspora; participants agreed on five thematic committees covering peace and reconciliation, security, economic development, geopolitical issues and political reforms. Several key actors remained outside process including main rebel and jihadist groups; govt 8 March imposed initial six-months long financial sanctions on two leaders associated with al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), and four from Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), coalition of armed groups from 2015 Algiers Accord. 

Concerns rose over restrictions on civil and political freedoms. Govt 6 March dissolved influential group Coordination of Movements, Associations and Sympathizers (CMAS) – led by well-known figure and vocal govt critic Imam Mahmoud Dicko – and 13 March shut down Association of Malian Students. National Human Rights Commission 6 March expressed concerns about “serious threats” to political freedoms, especially freedom of association; UN human rights body 13 March also condemned moves. Meanwhile, over 80 political parties and civil society groups 31 March called for end to transition and organisation of presidential elections as soon as possible.

Violence by jihadist and other armed groups remained high. Notably, Islamic State Sahel Province militants 6 March attacked army base in Labbezanga, Gao region, leaving at least four attackers dead; JNIM shelling targeted airports in Gao city 16 March and Timbuktu city two days later, causing injuries and material damage. Alliance of Sahel States 6 March announced creation of joint counterterrorism force to combat regional jihadist insurgency and address shared security needs. Meanwhile, Dozo militia 8 March reportedly abducted and killed around 30 Fulani near Kingolola village, Segou region.

In other important developments. Hundreds 16 March protested high cost of living and insecurity in Ménaka city. Officials 19 March visited Russia’s capital Moscow for discussions on security cooperation and expanding partnership in commerce, transportation, and more.

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In The News

15 Jun 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 Feb 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 Oct 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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