Mali and the Sahel

Archive Profile

2014 Country/Region Profile

Since 2012, Mali has experienced violent conflict between government forces and Tuareg and jihadist rebel groups in the north of the country. In January 2013, swift military intervention by France at the request of the Malian government was able to defeat the jihadist threat and contain the Tuareg insurgency. However, both groups periodically made attempts to reclaim territory, and instability in the north continued as jihadists in the broader Sahel region started reorganizing. The conflict between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels remains unresolved.

In June 2013, the Malian government reached an interim peace agreement with the Tuareg rebels, but negotiations toward a final peace agreement never began. Fighting resumed briefly in Kidal in May 2014, leading to a new ceasefire agreement. In July 2014, Algeria, which has played a key role in mediating Malian crises since the 1990s, took the lead of a new international mediation and launched inter-Malian peace negotiations in Algiers, which at the time of writing were still ongoing.

The Sahel region has been long beset with political and economic problems, but in 2014 faced a desperate humanitarian situation. At least 20 million people were at risk of food insecurity, with nearly 5 million children at risk of acute malnutrition. The region also has hundreds of thousands of people displaced due to the Malian conflict. Since July 2013, the UN has pursued an integrated strategy for the region, focusing on governance, security and resilience. However, much work remains and the problems are dire.

Background

The Sahel region has had systemic challenges, including food insecurity, high levels of poverty, limited access to basic social services, weak governance and state institutions, transnational drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced due to the Malian conflict. It has also seen a proliferation of terrorist groups, such as the jihadist group Ansar Dine and the al-Qaeda splinter group, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), in addi Read More...

Key developments

In January 2013, the international military intervention plans were accelerated in response to jihadist rebel advances south against government-held territory. At Mali’s request, France launched military operations, dubbed Opération Serval, with approximately 4,000 soldiers (more than all of the anticipated AFISMA forces) to help the government retake northern Mali. The U.S. supported these operations with air, reconnaissance and logistical support. Several other countries (Nigeria, Benin, To Read More...

Conclusion

While ultimate success, however defined, is still a remote prospect in Mali or in the rest of the Sahel, the interventions in 2014 appeared to have been effective at accomplishing numerous objectives. In particular, the rapid military deployment by France in January 2013 to fight against jihadists, as well as the resolute commitment to maintain it notwithstanding the cost in blood and treasure, ensured that Mali did not become a failed state and a terrorist haven. Billions of dollars were pledge Read More...

Background

In 2012 the security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel deteriorated sharply. A looming humanitarian crisis caused by a major drought, in combination with high food prices, displacement, and chronic poverty, put an estimated 18 million people at risk of a humanitarian disaster.1 The region’s long-standing socioeconomic and political problems, including food insecurity, high levels of poverty, limited access to basic social services, and weak state institutions, have been greatly exacerbat Read More...

Key developments

Conflict between Tuareg separatist groups and Mali’s government has smoldered beneath the surface since the most recent rebellion ended in 2009, leaving key demands of the rebels, such as greater autonomy, greater political participation, and increased economic development, unaddressed. On 17 January 2012 the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA)— a new Tuareg rebel group formed in October 2011 by former rebels and fighters returning from Libya—launched an armed rebellion w Read More...

Conclusion

While the Security Council’s December authorization of AFISMA meant that preparations for the force can begin, lingering questions about funding and logistical support to the military operation and the operational readiness of AFISMA and Malian forces remain. The Secretary-General’s strong stance in his November report, in which he distanced himself from a military intervention in Mali and ruled out UN funding for an intervention force, further compromises the operation, even before the comm Read More...

These archive pages provide full access to relevant texts from the print edition of the NYU Center on International Cooperation’s Annual Review of Global Peace Operations and the Review of Political Missions. For the years 2013 – 2011, readers will be able to access full texts by purchasing the respective Annual Review through Lynne Rienner Publishers. You may also use the global library search engine World Cat to search for copies of the Annual Review in a library near you.

2012 Annual Review of Global Peace Operations: Mali and the Sahel Mission Review

These archive pages provide full access to relevant texts from the print edition of the NYU Center on International Cooperation’s Annual Review of Global Peace Operations and the Review of Political Missions. For the years 2013 – 2011, readers will be able to access full texts by purchasing the respective Annual Review through Lynne Rienner Publishers. You may also use the global library search engine World Cat to search for copies of the Annual Review in a library near you.

2011 Annual Review of Global Peace Operations: Mali and the Sahel Mission Review