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Africa Policy Journal

Topic / International Relations and Security

Symptoms of an Enduring Crisis: Prospects for Addressing Mali’s Conflict Catalysts


 Despite the peace agreements and disarmament processes implemented since the 1990s, conflict in Mali has proven to be resilient. Conflict symptoms pertaining to deficient governance and sustained societal discontent have recurrently generated armed violence. This paper will explore the multifarious factors that have continually undermined the political stability and integrity of the Malian state. It will rely on a historically informed analysis to provide an insight on Mali’s protracted conflict and will search to contextualize the eruption of an enduring crisis triggered by the January 2012 armed rebellion. A multi-level conflict diagnostic will serve to set the ground for the elaboration of policy recommendations seeking to address Mali’s resurgent conflict catalysts in the prospects of a forthcoming post-conflict reconstruction process.


Mali has been immersed in an enduring crisis since the outbreak of conflict in January 2012. With the overthrow of the Malian government in the March 2012 military coup, constitutional rule was suspended and a number of armed groups took advantage of the power vacuum to gain control of the northern territory. Despite the formation of a transitional government, efforts to find a political solution to the crisis effectively failed. As armed groups consolidated their presence in the north, international efforts to dismantle them were sluggish whilst an exacerbated food crisis caused great displacement. With the undermining of the Ouagadougou peace talks, the situation became critical following a southwards advance of the armed groups that precipitated a military intervention. Despite the efforts by the international forces in displacing the armed groups, Mali remains in a state of crisis amidst prevalent insecurity, political instability and mass displacement.

As of early March 2013, although the deployed West African troops under the auspices of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) had regained control of the main towns of the north, French and Chadian forces continued to fight the Islamist armed groups in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains of the northeast.[i] As a result of the reported guerrilla attacks in Gao and suicide bombings in Kidal,[ii] widespread insecurity and substantial infrastructural damage caused by aerial bombardments continued to limit the delivery of humanitarian assistance. With 260,665 internally displaced Malians and a total of 170,313 refugees registered in neighbouring countries, an estimated 585,000 people remained food insecure under precarious living conditions.[iii]

Whereas tensions between the different ethnic groups of the north have been heightened during the past year,[iv] signs of instability recently emerged in Bamako following an attack on the President’s National Guard by soldiers loyal to Captain Amadou Sanogo.[v] In addition, regional threats have erupted as evidenced by the retaliatory attacks in Algeria and Nigeria by armed groups with alleged links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Boko Haram.[vi]  As such, despite the swiftness of the military intervention and the preliminary plans to deploy a United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping operation,[vii] threats to the security of the Malian and neighbouring states persist.

With the prospect that the turbulence in Mali will take some time to subside, government authorities have set a tentative date for holding national elections while civil society organizations are progressively turning their attention to the pressing launch of a conciliatory political process.[viii] As discrepancies over legislative representation and the future administrative status of the northern regions are likely to emerge, an urgent necessity to prepare for an inter-communal national dialogue process arises. As a result, the displaced and disaffected communities of the north will require international assistance to gain the necessary political and economic leverage to reiterate their protracted grievances and initiate a programme of political reform. Simultaneously, international efforts must focus on addressing the amalgamated conflict catalysts that have recurrently undermined the stability and integrity of the Malian state through the promotion of peace-building initiatives, regional security cooperation and sustained financial aid.

Framework of Analysis

This investigation is premised on an endeavour to offer an integrated diagnostic of the multifarious factors that precipitated the January 2012 armed rebellion and ensuing crisis following the overthrow of the Malian government in the March 2012 military coup. In the wake of the military intervention and prospective launch of a post-conflict reconstruction process, it is fundamental to gain a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined phenomena that have intermittently sparked armed violence in Mali. etrospectively tracing an underlying chain of causality will allow us to make the cautious assertion that Mali witnessed a crisis in the making. This paper will therefore rely on an evaluation of past and currently evolving events to elucidate the eruption of a crisis that has been sustained by ineffective governance and sluggish international action amidst meddling trans-Sahelian externalities. It will seek to offer a historically informed analysis of the protracted conflict as a means to contextualize the currently enduring crisis and formulate tentative policy recommendations to address Mali’s resurgent conflict catalysts.

The primary analytical exploration will be focused on the conflict symptoms pertaining to the idiosyncratic Malian history since independence; the deficient governance arising from neo-patrimonial politics as well as climatic and economic adversity and the societal disgruntlement emanating from sustained political marginalization and socio-economic exclusion in an ethnically divided society.[ix] Particular attention will be paid to the political instability deriving from poor governance propagated by low public resources, unbridled corruption and military coups as well as the recurrent armed rebellions amidst failures to effectively implement the numerous peace accords since 1991. In addition, an analytical component will focus on trans-Sahelian dynamics relating to regional spillovers and the burgeoning of a regional illicit trade economy and kidnapping industry that enabled a number of resourceful armed groups to take de facto control of northern Mali up until the launch of Opération Serval on 11 January 2013. Finally, a detailed account of the events leading up to the military intervention and evolving situation will serve as the backdrop for the formulation of policy recommendations in the prospects of a forthcoming post-conflict reconstruction process. A concluding conflict synopsis will hopefully serve to assert the idea that Mali constitutes a paradigmatic case study for conflict in ethnically divided societies as it integrates well into the various cadres of the comprehensive conflict incidence theory.

I. Mali’s Protracted Conflict

The Malian state has been scarred by a history of internecine conflict since its inception as an independent state in 1960. Despite the numerous peace agreements and disarmament processes that have been implemented since the early 1990s, conflict has proven to be resilient. This resilience derives from a complex interconnection between structural conflict catalysts that have sporadically fused to cause conflict outbreaks.

These conflict triggers are both anthropogenic and exogenous. The idiosyncratic socio-economic composition of the Malian polity and the sustained application of policies ill-suited to accommodate divergent political demands have recurrently precipitated armed rebellions by the disenfranchised communities of the north. In addition, the prevailing climatic conditions of intermittent droughts and the challenges to promote economic development in the sparsely populated arid north have adversely affected the livelihoods of the northern populations. Most importantly, public and international resources have not only been continually insufficient to generate economic activity and guarantee security across the territory, they have also been embezzled as a result of widespread clientelism. This has generated serious discontent and propagated armed violence, both in the form of insurgencies[x] and military coups.

The history of conflict in Mali has been a complex one, involving violent confrontations at different levels between different actors. The primary source of conflict can be attributed to the recurrent armed insurgencies led by the Kel Tamasheq (commonly known as the Tuareg) against state authorities. Although it is not the only group that has engaged in violence, the Tuareg have been pivotal as they have been at the forefront of four armed insurgencies since 1963. Conflict has also arisen among the different communities of the north and acute rivalries have emerged between different Tuareg tribes, particularly in Kidal.[xi] Most importantly, deep political schisms have developed between politico-military elites in Bamako and instability has been exacerbated by the resurgence of military coups motivated by sustained discontent towards the alternating governments.

The multi-level nature of conflict in Mali must therefore be understood in context as it requires a coherent breakdown of the enduring antagonisms between conflicting actors. This necessitates a comprehensive diagnostic of evolving phenomena dating back to the colonial era. It primarily requires an ethnographic exploration of the constituting communities in Mali and their interactions across time. A holistic diagnostic of the history of conflict in Mali will hopefully serve to contend that the symptoms for the outbreak of conflict and durability of the subsequent crisis were present at the outset of the January 2012 insurgency. As such, although the fall of the Qaddafi regime and subsequent inflow of arms arguably precipitated the armed rebellion, the presence of resourceful armed groups in the north coupled with aggravated discontent by the military towards the authorities in Bamako and an international reticence to take prompt action would effectively undermine the resolution of an enduring crisis.

1.1 Ethnic Diversity under Authoritarian Rule

The roots of the conflict must be traced back to the pre-independence era under French colonial rule as it marked the inception of a sustained process of discriminatory policies towards the northern communities. An important point of departure requires an appreciation of Mali’s diverse ethnic composition as this diversity was exploited and manipulated by both the colonial and post-colonial authorities.

Northern Mali is composed of three sparsely populated regions; Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Their inhabitants make about ten percent of the total population.[xii] Four main groups have historically inhabited the northern regions and although they are often distinguished by their racial attributes, the most salient feature of interest relies with their distinct socio-economic lifestyles. Whilst the various Tuareg (Ifogha, Idnan, Iwellemeden and Imghad, amongst others)[xiii] and Arab (Berabiche, Kounta and Telemsi) communities have led nomadic, pastoralist lifestyles, the Songhai have pursued sedentary subsistence agriculture around the banks of the Niger River. The Fulani community is said to combine elements of both.[xiv] The inter-group relations between these communities have been predominantly characterized by conflict and rivalry, primarily deriving from competition for scarce resources and asymmetrical political aspirations.

Prior to colonisation, the prevalent forms of violence were mainly inter-group; pertaining predominantly to Tuareg raids on other communities’ land.[xv] In the mid-1960s, inter-communal conflict was sparked by contestations over land rights between the nomadic and sedentary populations and in the 1990s, a self-defense Songhai-based militia was created to withstand Tuareg rebel attacks.[xvi] In addition, over the last decades, an underlying rivalry emerged between Tuareg and Arabs in a struggle for control over the trans-Sahelian trade routes.[xvii] Although there have been instances of alliances based on inter-communal marriage, the prevailing relations between these communities have remained antagonistic. In addition, the northern communities have been burdened by the adverse climatic conditions that have not only caused destruction of livestock and land but also mass displacement. Most importantly, the policies that have been implemented by the central authorities have largely been discriminatory and public investments have largely been siphoned off through corruption whilst the post-colonial modernisation policies of land reform directly disadvantaged the livelihoods of the nomadic communities.[xviii]

Having claimed possession of the Malian territory in 1894, the French implemented a divide and rule strategy that essentially disturbed the underlying societal structures of the country. This was evidenced by the promotion of educational programs that favoured the Mandé populations of the south.[xix] The Tuareg, who had fervently rejected the imposition of colonial rule, had for long advocated the creation of a trans-Sahelian state encompassing their scattered populations in Mali, Algeria, Libya and Niger. During the colonial era, the Tuareg, led by Firhoun Ag El Insar, launched a rebellion against the colonial authorities as a result of a virulent opposition to the “highly unjust, authoritarian and centralized colonial state”.[xx] The French authorities had imposed heavy taxes on their trade, confiscated their camels for military use and had reneged on their promise to grant the Taureg people their autonomous “Azawad”.[xxi] The French authorities violently repressed the rebellion and subsequently confiscated important grazing lands and imposed forced labour on the Tuareg population.[xxii]  This fed into an increasingly ingrained sentiment by Tuareg communities of deliberate repression by the ruling authorities which intensified during the first years of independence.

1.2 Repressive Marginalization, Drought and Insurgency

When Mali became a sovereign state on 22 September 1960, a one party regime was installed with Modibo Keita as its president. Northern communities had been side-lined in the de-colonization process and were minimally represented in the civil administration.[xxiii] The senior leadership of the first government was disproportionately drawn from elites of the southern ethnic groups that inherited the French authorities’ legacy to disregard the pastoral lifestyle of the northern nomadic populations as regressive.[xxiv] The Keita regime established a centralized authoritarian system which proved to be unresponsive to the demands for local representation by the northern communities. As a result of the military rule over the north and the prospective implementation of anti-nomadic land reform policies, a group of poorly armed Tuareg launched a series of attacks on government facilities in 1963. The government response was brutal as it launched counter-insurgency operations that began to terrorize the populations deemed sympathetic to the rebellion.[xxv]

In 1968, Colonel Moussa Traoré overthrew the Keita government in a military coup and installed a repressive regime that “appeared more interested in maintaining its control than promoting development”.[xxvi] Under the Traoré government, corruption thrived as funds for development programs were diverted into private pockets.[xxvii] Most importantly, the northern communities were prohibited from partaking in the management of local affairs and continued to be virtually excluded from positions in the central government, administration and army.[xxviii] Under Traoré, the northern communities suffered proportionately more as a result of political neglect, economic marginalisation and abuse by the commanding military governors deployed in the north.[xxix] Crucially, the northern regions suffered severely form a series of droughts in 1972-73 and 1983-85 that destroyed 40% of its livestock and prompted mass displacement.[xxx] With insufficient relief efforts that were allegedly detracted through corruption, many fled to neighbouring Algeria and Libya. In Libya, Tuaregs received active support from Qaddafi and hundreds of young Tuareg men were recruited into the “Islamic Legion” where they received sophisticated military training and fighting experience in Chad and Lebanon.[xxxi] As a result of Qaddafi’s defeat in Chad in 1986, the fall in oil prices and subsequent economic downturn in Libya, thousands of Malian Tuaregs were forced to return to northern Mali. The influx of militarily trained young men inspired by revolutionary discourses in Algeria and Libya created the fertile ground for the second post-independence Tuareg rebellion.

On 28 June 1990, a group of 50 Tuareg armed men took over a prison in Ménaka and stole large numbers of weapons as well as four-by-four vehicles.[xxxii] These attacks were orchestrated by the leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MPLA),[xxxiii] Iyad Ag Ghali; a prominent Ifogha Tuareg from Kidal who would form the notorious Ansar Dine in late 2011. Once again, this insurgency unleashed an indiscriminate military retaliation by the Malian armed forces. President Traoré declared a state of emergency in the north and there were allegations that non-Tuareg populations in the region were encouraged to attack the Tuareg.[xxxiv] Faced with severe financial constraints and growing political opposition in Bamako, Traoré belatedly recognized that ending the rebellion was dependent on a non-violent reconciliatory process. Accepting a mediating role by Algeria, government representatives and leaders of the MPLA and Arab Islamic Front of Azawad (FIAA) signed the Accords of Tamanrasset on 6 January 1991.

These accords included provisions of an immediate cease-fire between warring parties as well as the disarmament of rebel combatants and demilitarization of the north.[xxxv] Most importantly, it envisioned the integration of rebel combatants into the Malian army and planned an accelerated process of administrative decentralization. In addition, a final clause guaranteed that 47.3% of Mali’s infrastructural investment funding would be devoted to the North, a figure that had been as low as 17% since the 1960s.[xxxvi] The agreement was however shrouded in secrecy as many representatives of the northern communities and opposition movements in Bamako were not represented in Tamanrasset. These opposition movements, and most notably the military, were enraged by the pledges of the agreements and perceived the concessions made to the Tuareg as a threat to the integrity of the country.[xxxvii] No Songhai representatives were invited to partake in the accords and they later expressed their discontent for the disregard of their interests amidst fears that the implementation of the agreements would lead to an Arabo-Tuareg dominance of the north. In 1991, public dissatisfaction with an economy suffering from deteriorating terms of trade and poor social conditions prompted frequent popular demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the National Guard. Amidst rampant state corruption and mounting dissatisfaction with Traoré’s handling of the Tuareg issue, Colonel Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) overthrew the regime in a military coup and formed the Committee of Transition for the Safety of the People.

The new de facto authorities overlooked the Tamanrasset Accords and with rising pressures from pro-democracy civil society groups in Bamako, a National Conference was initiated in August 1991 that eventually led to the launch of the Pacte National at the end of the year. In the wake of the meeting, representatives of the Tuareg and Arab armed groups of the north created a common platform and formed the United Movements and Fronts of Azawad (MFUA). Following preparatory meetings, the pact was signed between the Malian government and the MFUA in April 1992. The agreement included four broad key points relating to; 1.) peace and security in the north, 2.) national reconciliation, 3.) special initiatives to promote socio-economic development and 4.) the granting of a special autonomous status for the north within the framework of a unitary state.[xxxviii] In addition, a commission was established to monitor the ceasefire, the new administrative region of Kidal was created and a clause guaranteeing Tuareg representation in the National Assembly was passed.[xxxix]

1.3 Fragile Peace in a Fragile Democracy

In June 1992, the first democratic elections took place and Alpha Oumar Konaré was inaugurated as president. However, fighting in the north continued and the implementation of the National Pact was stalled. The government’s concessions to the Tuareg created a backlash within the northern military personnel as well as the Arab and Songhai populations who felt neglected. Important discrepancies emerged within the Tuareg community as secessionist factions rejected the National Pact and tensions rose in 1994 when former Tuareg rebels that had been integrated into the army mutinied in Tonka and Kharous, killing a dozen fellow Malian army soldiers.[xl] Meanwhile, Arab minority groups demanded political inclusion along with the Songhai. They were primarily concerned with the relatively disproportionate political concessions granted to the Tuareg as well as the relief and economic support being supplied to them.[xli] During this time, the Songhai felt insecure amidst intermittent Tuareg bandit attacks which prompted the formation of their own militia; the Ganda Koy Malian Patriotic Movement (MPGK). In addition, discipline and leadership problems within the army started to surge. Many military officers perceived the National Pact as a capitulation to the demands of a northern insurgency that they had for long resisted amidst continuous poor provisions of military equipment by the government.[xlii] Soldiers stationed in the north began to disregard orders from the central command and local units began to operate independently, essentially disregarding the demilitarization clauses of the National Pact. With rising inter-factional fighting between different militias in the north, President Konaré was pressured to launch a series of regional consultations through civil society initiatives.[xliii] In November 1994, several inter-community meetings were held, bringing traditional leaders to negotiate ceasefires in the north. As Konaré announced a large withdrawal of military units from the north, grass-roots organizations began to organize inter-community meetings that raised hopeful prospects for peace and reconciliation.

With a renewed international involvement under the leadership of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the Konaré government launched a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. The DDR programme received USD$ 10 million from international donors and between 1995 and 1997, a total of 12,000 former combatants allegedly benefitted from it.[xliv] In addition, an estimated 2,400 former combatants joined the Malian armed forces. This program culminated in the Flammes de la Paix ceremony on 27 March 1996 in which 3,000 arms from demobilized combatants were symbolically burnt in Timbuktu with the announcement of the dissolution of the MPLA and other Tuareg movements, notably the Idnan-led Revolutionary Army for the Liberation of the Azawad (ARLA).

Despite the initial success of the program, the 1990s witnessed a surge in illicit trafficking activities as a result of the porous borders and poor security provision throughout Western Sahel. With the eruption of civil wars across West Africa, trade in small arms surged as Mauritanian and Nigerian criminal groups began to supply illegal weapons to northern Mali. This arms inflow essentially undermined the arms decommissioning process.[xlv] With persistent problems of under-development and minimal presence of government security authorities, armed banditry began to flourish in the northern territory.

1.4 Armed Groups and the Illicit Trans-Sahelian Economy

Arab and Tuareg communities with historical knowledge of the northern terrain and control over the trade routes began to engage in smuggling activities as it presented new opportunities for economic gain. Alluding to the non-implementation of the National Pact amidst new droughts and rising discontent among the Tuareg soldiers in the Malian army, a third Tuareg-led rebellion was launched in May 2006.[xlvi] Condemning the discriminatory treatment of Tuaregs in the army, it was led by Tuareg officers Hassan Ag Fagaga and Ibrahim Bahanga, who had founded a new Kidal-based armed group under the name of the 23 May Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC). Their recruits were former members of the MPLA who carried out attacks on Malian army installations in Kidal and Ménaka.

As a result, Algeria was once again called to the negotiating table and brokered a peace deal known as the 2006 Algiers Peace Accords that envisioned the creation of a northern security force dubbed as the Saharan Security Units. However, as a result of the lack of regional commitment to provide financial resources for the implementation of the accords, Tuareg rebel attacks continued until 2009 when the Malian government and the ADC agreed to the disarmament of the ADC in return of the reintegration of their combatants to the military barracks in Kidal. A faction of the ADC did not agree to the Algiers Accords and instead formed the Tuareg Alliance of Northern Mali for Change (ATNMC) that continued to organize attacks against the Malian military.[xlvii]

In 2011, ATT launched the Programme Spécial pour la Paix, la Securité et le Développement au Nord Mali (PSPSDN). It was financially backed by the European Union (E.U.) with a budget of USD$ 65 million to invest in regional security and youth employment.[xlviii] This project was however deplored by the Advocacy Network of Peace, Security and Development in Northern Mali led by Alghabass Ag Intallah; a prominent Ifogha leader from Kidal who in mid-January 2013 formed the Ansar Dine splinter faction under the name of the Islamic Movement for the Azawad (MIA). The network criticized the program for lack of participation by local populations and disproportionate allocation of resources to security as opposed to development programs and the establishment of a “southern” military presence in the north.[xlix] As such, although there were evident efforts to attenuate the dire economic circumstances in the north, corruption and the flourishing of a trans-Sahelian illicit trade economy proved to undermine them.

With very weak capacity to manage the porous borders, smuggling activities began to thrive as armed groups gained a stronghold over the trade routes. With the economic attractiveness of the smuggling economy, Tuareg and Arab merchant groups increasingly relied on purchasing arms as a means to gain leverage over the control of the trade routes. This propagated an arms race between different local militia groups that began to interact with AQIM; a fundamentalist armed group created from the remnants of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Capitalizing on the illicit trade networks managed by Malian merchants, a synergic process of commercial interaction and local recruitment started to consolidate between the Algerian command of AQIM and prominent Arab merchants of the north.[l] The economic benefits reaped from the illicit trade economy that relied on northern Mali as a transit route contributed to the proliferation of small armed groups that trafficked goods ranging from arms inflowing from Liberia and Sierra Leone to cocaine flown in from Latin America.[li] The continual incapacity of the Malian state to govern its northern territory coupled with bleak economic opportunities for the youth of the north began to create a fertile ground for the operability of armed groups that saw the northern territory as a safe haven in which to pursue their lucrative activities. A prevalent security vacuum in the north enabled the armed groups to operate almost without restraint and the continuing incapacity of the Malian state to address the protracted grievances of the northern communities began to set the ground for what would become the fourth post-independence Tuareg-led rebellion.


2. The 2012 Crisis: Tuareg-led Insurgency and Subsequent Military Coup

Amidst allegations that ATT was capitalizing on the perceived instability of the north to attract further international resources under the guise of combating terrorism, funds were still not being channelled appropriately as evidenced by the poorly equipped Malian military in the wake of the January 2012 Tuareg-led insurgency.[lii] The main security challenge was now focused on the threat posed by AQIM which had been consolidating its presence in Mali since 2003.

Carrying out various kidnapping operations on Western tourists, the payment of large ransoms generated large economic rewards not only to AQIM but to local intermediaries responsible for negotiating the hostage releases which included government officials and Ag Ghali amongst others.[liii] Stratfor calculated that between 2008 and 2012, AQIM received a total of USD$ 88,900,000 in ransoms, averaging a total of USD$ 3,316,000 per hostage.[liv] This indicated that that the group was financially resourceful prior to the eruption of the crisis. Taking advantage of the scant government control in the north, AQIM progressively began to integrate and recruit young Arab Berabiche in the Timbuktu region that were attracted by the economic opportunities brought about from the income-generating kidnapping industry.[lv] Under this setting, a strategic alliance deriving from a convergence of commercial interests emerged between local trafficking networks and AQIM. AQIM capitalized on the trafficking networks to obtain weapons and, in turn, the trafficking networks received a share of the revenues generated from kidnapping ransoms.[lvi] These mutually beneficial alliances set the ground for the progressive consolidation of local armed groups and those with political agendas began to organize themselves as a result of ATT’s failure to implement the PSPSDN.

In July 2011, different Tuareg factions came together to plan the formation the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) with the asserted objective to realize a long-standing endeavour to establish an independent state of Azawad. Officially formed in October 2011, the MNLA came under the leadership of Bilal Ag Cherif after Iyad Ag Ghali’s candidature was rejected, allegedly due to the fact that his Islamist aspirations contrasted with the more secular ambitions of the MNLA’s core members. As a result, Ag Ghali formed Ansar Dine; a Kidal-based Islamic movement aspiring to apply Sharia law across the Malian territory. Mohamed Ag Najem became the MNLA military commander. He was an experienced combatant and former Colonel of a unit of the Libyan army who formed the military apparatus of the MNLA with an alleged 3,000 heavily armed Tuareg fighters returning from Libya.[lvii] Amidst warnings of the dangers of the mass inflow of former Libyan mercenaries and military equipment, the regional and Malian authorities were unable to control the mass transfer of arms from Libya. Equipped with heavy weapons and vehicles, the MNLA launched an armed insurgency against the Malian military in January 2012.

On 16 January 2012, MNLA militants carried out an attack on the military barracks of Ménaka. The next day, attacks were reported in the north-eastern cities of Aguelhoc and Tessalit where they fired at the Malian army with heavy weapons but the Malian army reportedly regained control of these towns after three days of combat.[lviii] In response, the MNLA sent reinforcements to Aguelhoc and re-launched an attack on 24 January. The Malian army was reportedly forced to abandon the town following a depletion of available ammunition. Continuing its advance, the MNLA carried out armed assaults in Andéramboukane, Léré and Niafunké; demonstrating a solid deployment across the northern territory. In early March, at a Malian army base in Tessalit, the army was unable to resupply itself and was subsequently besieged by the MNLA with the assistance of Ag Ghali’s Ansar Dine.[lix] Following a takeover of the towns of Ménaka, Aguelhoc and Léré, the army was forced to retreat out of the northern territory, at which point Captain Amadou Sanogo launched a military coup on 21 March whilst the MNLA and Ansar Dine took advantage of the security vacuum to occupy the main towns of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu.[lx] Having taken de facto control of the main towns of the north, the MNLA released a statement on 5 April 2012 claiming the independence of the state of Azawad. Soon after, however, Ansar Dine broke away from the MNLA to form an implicit alliance with AQIM and its alleged offshoot; the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).[lxi]


2.1 Security Vacuum and Armed Groups in the North

As AQIM reinforced its presence in Timbuktu, MUJAO progressively established its stronghold in Gao whilst Ansar Dine controlled the Kidal region.[lxii] By June 2012, the MNLA had been expelled from all the major northern towns that were now at the hands of a synergic Islamist alliance. The military junta’s justification for the coup was directly related to the government’s failure to provide adequate equipment for the army’s fight against the armed groups as they posed a significant threat to the territorial integrity of the country.[lxiii] In the aftermath of the coup, the military junta suspended the constitution and formed the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR) whilst the armed groups consolidated their control of the north.

In the following months, the Islamist tripartite asserted its de facto control of the north by imposing their authority and subjugating local populations to Sharia law. Over the course of the summer of 2012, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported numerous instances of arbitrary punishments, particularly towards the Fulani and Songhai communities.[lxiv] These attacks sparked the formation of a Songhai militia known as Gando Iso; a new hybrid of the MPGK that carried out reprisal attacks against MUJAO elements in the region of Gao. The prevailing environment in the north for the next coming months would be one of anarchy in which the armed groups continued to consolidate their presence across the northern territory whilst members of the international community were sluggishly taking action to respond to a deteriorating situation exacerbated by a food crisis.[lxv]

 3. Belated International Response

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) took the leading role as the mediating external actor of the crisis. After a meeting in Abidjan on 27 March 2012, ECOWAS exerted substantive pressure on the CNRDR to return to constitutional order and established a standby brigade force for possible deployment to Mali.[lxvi] Having appointed Burkinabé President Compaoré as regional mediator, constitutional order was finally re-established on 20 August 2012 as a transitional government was announced; placing Dioncounda Traoré as interim president. Over the months of November and December 2012, weakened by the Islamist takeover, the MNLA announced its intention to enter into negotiations and was startlingly joined by an Ansar Dine delegation headed by Ag Intallah during the December 2012 Ouagadougou peace talks. During these talks, both delegations pledged to an immediate cessation of hostilities, honouring a respect for the territorial integrity of the country and willingness to work towards finding a political solution to the crisis.[lxvii]

Meanwhile, on 20 December 2012, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved resolution 2085 which tasked AFISMA, under the Chapter VII mandate, to take “all necessary measures […] to strengthen Mali’s defence and security forces […] supporting the Malian authorities in their primary responsibility to protect the population; transitioning to stabilization activities following the recovery of national territory; and assisting with humanitarian access to northern Mali.”[lxviii] Although this epitomized the mobilization of international political will to find a solution to the Malian crisis, the deployment of an international force was not due until September 2013.[lxix] This raised serious concerns for a northern population that was already being subjugated to mass displacement as a result of intermittent clashes and grave food insecurity. In the meantime, instability was sparked in Bamako following the arrest and subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra.[lxx] Although a new cabinet was swiftly re-appointed, the transitional government remained unable to manoeuvre the situation as it began to escalate in the early days of 2013.

Following Ag Ghali’s announcement on 3 January 2013 that Ansar Dine would renege on its commitments made during the Ouagadougou peace talks,[lxxi] international concerns were heightened as the prospect for a negotiated solution to the crisis was undermined. As tensions remained high, convoys of armed AQIM and Ansar Dine vehicles were reportedly moving southwards from Timbuktu in a strategic endeavour to capture the town of Mopti.[lxxii] Following the takeover of the town of Konna by the Islamist armed groups on 10 January 2013,[lxxiii] President Traoré declared a state of emergency and called upon France to assist Malian forces in halting the southwards advance of the armed groups.[lxxiv]

3.1 International Military Intervention

Following President Hollande’s announcement of the launch of a French military intervention on 11 January 2013, a campaign of airstrikes were immediately carried out over the course of several days that bombarded the main towns of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao.[lxxv] French ground forces were subsequently deployed to the military base in Ségou whilst ECOWAS states authorized the deployment of their troops under the AFISMA mandate.[lxxvi] In the course of two weeks, amidst clashes in Diabaly and Douentza, the French and Malian armed forces progressively gained control of the main towns in the regions of Timbuktu and Gao whilst ECOWAS followed to secure them.[lxxvii] In late February 2013, the region of Kidal had not been fully secured but Chadian troops alongside the French gained control of Aguelhoc and Tessalit, forcing armed group elements to take refuge in the Kidal mountains and over to the Libyan border.[lxxviii]

Over the course of the intervention, two separate retaliatory attacks were carried out in Algeria and Nigeria. In Algeria, the Ain Amenas gas plant was attacked by the Al-Mulathameen brigade led by former AQIM commander Mokhtar Belmokhtrar. Following a failed rescue attempt, the hostage crisis ended with several casualties.[lxxix] In Nigeria, the Ansaru group allegedly affiliated to Boko Haram attacked Nigerian forces on their way to Mali and were reportedly responsible for the kidnapping of seven foreigners in late February 2013.[lxxx] These attacks heightened the risk of residual regional insecurity as the presence of armed groups across the Sahel continued to pose a significant threat amidst reports that “Malian jihadists” were finding refuge in Northern Darfur.[lxxxi] Following the reported instances of Islamist insurgent attacks in Gao and suicide bombings in Kidal,[lxxxii] there is a clear necessity for international actors to begin implementing a coherent security package seeking to minimize the recidivism of the Islamist armed groups.

3.2 Policy Implications amidst Destruction and Displacement

At the time of writing, aid delivery in the north remains limited as insecurity prevails amidst mass displacement and food shortages.[lxxxiii] Despite the positive news coming out of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa at the end of January, where international donors pledged to donate $600m to support military operations and humanitarian aid in Mali, the Consolidated Appeal for Mali estimated that a total of USD$ 373,131,447 is needed to support the 4.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid but only 4.6% of the total requirements have been funded.[lxxxiv] As such, the current situation in northern Mali remains precarious as a result of heightened insecurity and bleak prospects for economic recovery in the north. Whilst ethnic retributions against Tuareg and Arab communities continue to be reported in the north,[lxxxv] in Bamako, the attacks in early February by soldiers loyal to the military junta on the President’s National Guard raised important concerns towards the integrity of the transitional government.

Whereas the international military intervention has proven successful in regaining the control of the northern territory, looming security threats persist due to an observed capability of the armed groups to disperse and re-arm. Most importantly, the severe displacement and prevailing food insecurity will inevitably hamper the ability of the northern communities to partake in an eventual post-conflict reconstruction process in which their participation is evidently paramount.  What has become evident is the reality that following a belated international response from the international community; infrastructural destruction, institutional decay and displacement will hinder the initiation of an urgently needed post-conflict reconstruction process.

The policy implications that arise at this stage are primarily concerned with humanitarian assistance, the restoration of security in the north and eventual political reform. Given the precarious humanitarian situation, there is an urgent need to facilitate the entry and secure operation of relief agencies to assist the displaced and disaffected communities. With the looming instability emanating from Bamako, there is a need to address the rising discrepancies between the military junta and the interim authorities. An important first step that may be taken to avoid any escalation of violence in Bamako is the consolidated presence of ECOWAS troops to monitor the actions of the military junta to prevent any further attacks. In addition, although elections are scheduled for the 7 July 2013,[lxxxvi] there is a clear priority to launch, ex-ante, a conciliatory process between the different political groupings to agree on a way to address the recurrent threat posed by the military junta and the unaddressed political demands of the northern communities. Holding elections without prior restoration of security across the Malian territory or ensuring a fair representation of all political leaders may prove to be counterproductive.

With a view set on the north, a crucial implication arises with the need to launch a dialogue process between the political representatives across the country. The creation of the Coalition for Mali on 26 May 2012; uniting political parties and civil society leaders from all regions raises hopeful perspectives for the launch of a cross-regional platform searching to engage leaders from all communities in an eventual post-conflict reconciliation process.[lxxxvii] However, what becomes mandatory at this point is the need to empower the disaffected northern communities with sufficient political leverage to ensure that their protracted political demands are addressed. This will require Track II diplomacy initiatives seeking to engage northern community leaders in inter-communal dialogue and enable respective delegations to participate in high-level meetings with external mediating actors and the interim Malian government. In addition, the necessity may exist to deploy Islamic civil society groups with the objective to organize inter-communal initiatives so as to assuage the heightened tensions that may have been created as a result of a year-long control by groups upholding extremist views of Islam.

Finally, the need for regional cooperation on trans-Sahelian security is paramount, albeit elusive. Although Algeria has managed to close its border completely, its role during the crisis has been largely characterized by passiveness, seeking only to ensure it is not affected by any cross-border spillovers. In a similar vein, Mauritania has remained cautious and has not shown concrete signs of active involvement in a post-reconstruction process whilst Libya is currently in the midst of a constitutional process that has detracted much of its attention from the neighbouring crisis. In contrast, Burkina Faso and Niger have demonstrated their commitment to the cause by deploying troops under AFISMA. Nevertheless, there is an evident need for Western Sahel states to agree on a common security and development framework as hopeful prospects have been raised following the pledges made during the February 2013 Brussels and Dublin E.U. meetings on Mali, promising up to €250 million in development aid.[lxxxviii] At the outset, what becomes evident is that in order to curtail the illicit trade economy and promote economic development, a regional security cooperation mechanism should be set up to mitigate the cross-border flows of illicit goods and development programs implemented to reduce the economic attractiveness of illicit trade networks and armed groups.


4. Post-Conflict Reconstruction Process: Policy Recommendations

In the event of the launch of a post-conflict reconstruction process, there is an urgent need to focus on the secure return of the displaced northern communities. This will require humanitarian relief agencies to operate across the territory under the protection of ECOWAS forces. However, with the possibility that this may take a prolonged period of time, it will inevitably necessitate a revision of the AFISMA mandate to ensure that there is no withdrawal of ECOWAS troops until there is an agreement to revamp the security forces deployed in the north. This will require greater local representation in the ranks of the patrolling police and army as a means to minimize the instances of abuse or discrimination by the security forces over the local communities.

4.1 Track II Diplomacy

Assuming that the repatriation of refugees and return of law and order in the northern towns will take sometime, Track II diplomacy organizations should begin to engage with local leaders and facilitate the launch of inter-communal talks. With the objective of gaining some consensus on their political agendas, Track II diplomacy organizations could facilitate the creation of delegations comprising members from different groups of the north to be sent to negotiate with the transitional government in Bamako. Assisted by foreign governments and organizations, these delegations should receive the right amount of external support to ensure that they are able to negotiate a roadmap for a national dialogue process. The end-goal would be to initiate a national dialogue for political reform with a special focus on the future administrative status of the northern regions and the role of northern political representatives in a democratically elected government of national unity.

4.2 Constitutional Reform

During a prospective political process, there will be an inevitable call to reconsider the configuration of the current constitution. Given that the recurrent Tuareg rebellions have been motivated by grievances emanating from little or no control over the policies that affect them, it may be recommendable to consider the implementation of a consociationalist constitution offering power-sharing guarantees at the executive level for minority groups as well as greater autonomous powers for the three regions of the north. This may serve to ensure that decision-making at the executive is not devoid from input by the political representatives of the north such that it can minimize the incidence of future violence arising from political exclusion. In a similar vein, it may be recommendable to think about implementing a preferential system of voting in northern constituencies as it can induce campaigning politicians to seek cross-communal support to maximize votes.[lxxxix] This can enhance political moderation and work as an efficient mechanism to create inter-ethnic political coalitions capable of promoting coherent reconciliatory political reform programmes.


4.3 Civil-Military Relations in Bamako

In Bamako, there is a pressing need to reconsider the prevailing civil-military relations. Given the track record of corrupt practices along government elites and the sustained under-funding of the military, there is an evident call to set up a non-partisan anti-corruption commission seeking to address the dishonest practices sustained by political elites in Bamako. This will inevitably require the holding of hearings from both military representatives and civil society leaders to help the commission investigate recent corrupt practices and use legal measures to punish the lurking culprits. Important shifts may have to take place within the command of the military forces as part of an endeavour to de-politicize them. [xc] This may require the assistance of ECOWAS to negotiate the appointment of military commanders with a track record of integrity and political neutrality. Although controversial, the mid-February appointment of Captain Sanogo as head of the army reform committee may prove to be a wise bid if it successfully manages to lure Sanogo away from the core of his military junta, but the prospects for this remain uncertain.[xci][1]

4.4 Trans-Sahelian Security Cooperation

The setting up of a trans-Sahelian security cooperation apparatus will require concerted international efforts to induce all stakeholders to contribute to its financing and operationalization. Given the evident regional spillovers of the trans-Sahelian illicit trade economy, resourceful countries affected by the inflow of illicit goods transited through the Sahel may demonstrate greater resolve and willingness to broker an agreement and bring all Western Sahel states to set up special border units to monitor the cross-border trade hotspots. The current implementation of the E.U. Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, which has allocated over €660 million in programs for Security, Rule of Law and Good Governance in Mauritania, Niger and Mali raises hopeful prospects.[xci] Under its Common Security and Defence Policy civilian mission, the E.U. recently deployed a European Training Mission with a 15 month mandate with up to 500 military trainers to assist in the reformation of the Malian army and reboot its capacity to safeguard the integrity of the national territory.[xcii] As all contiguous Western Sahel states are members of Interpol, it may be recommendable to set up a regional security apparatus under its auspices and capitalize on its existing trans-Sahelian operations to facilitate its implementation. This will require a continuous flow of international financing that may not be readily available but as the flourishing of armed groups in northern Mali demonstrated, fighting the criminal networks operating in the Sahel falls under the security interests of countries within and beyond the Sahel.                                                                                                                            

5. Conflict Synopsis and Conclusion         

This analysis has sought to offer a historically informed insight of the protracted conflict in Mali to shed light on the need to adopt structural policy reforms to mitigate its multifarious conflict catalysts. The sustained policies of exclusion and marginalization that have been continually implemented by the alternating authorities in Bamako have proven to be detrimental for the political stability of the country.

The Tuareg armed rebellions have been motivated by protracted grievances towards the Malian authorities and have been made viable as a result of the poor government control over the north and the availability of arms in the region; a reality that syncs well into the hybridized Collier-Hoeffler and Fearon-Laitin models of conflict incidence.[xciii] With the subsequent repressive counter-insurgency strategies adopted by the authoritarian military regimes, the sentiment of relative deprivation and frustration by the Tuareg communities fed into the recurrent reliance on armed insurgencies as the only means to express their political discontent.[xciv] In parallel, the failure of the government to implement the various peace agreements and disarmament processes adversely affected security in the north. The different northern communities resorted to the creation of armed militia to protect themselves as a result of a security dilemma emanating in a northern territory plagued by inter-ethnic rivalry and security vacuums.[xcv]

With the rise of the trans-Sahelian illicit trade economy coupled with the instalment of AQIM in northern Mali, the latest Tuareg rebellion found its strength through its capitalization on the mass inflow of arms and trained combatants from Libya. Scarred by a history of corrupt practices, government authorities proved to be inept in managing the Tuareg insurgency and the failure to appropriately equip its military created a backlash against ATT’s government in the form of a military coup. With the withdrawal of security forces from the north, a security vacuum reigned in which resourceful Islamist armed groups ousted the MNLA and took de facto control of the north. As such, the conflict symptoms of ineffective and repressive governance coupled with protracted grievances were present at the outset of the 2012 armed rebellion that was simply precipitated by the spillovers of the Libyan civil war. The 2012 conflict was in effect the result of an amalgamation of intertwined conflict catalysts that fused to expedite armed violence and facilitated the territorial takeover of the north by Islamist armed groups.

With a belated international response to an enduring crisis, challenges to provide security in the northern territory persist. Whereas residual threats arising from the resilience of scattered Islamist armed group elements persist, ECOWAS forces are required to continue consolidating their presence in the northern territory as a means to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian relief agencies to assist the return of the displaced and disaffected northern communities. With the prospects of a forthcoming conciliatory process seeking to engage all constituting communities of the north, it is fundamental to stress the need to devote international resources to assist and monitor its progression. Whilst it may require the deployment of U.N. peacekeeping forces in future, it is paramount to allocate international resources to the reconstruction of the livelihoods of the northern communities as well as the launch of Track II diplomacy programs to empower the prospective political representatives of the north with sufficient leverage to reiterate their long-standing grievances.

The prospect of a government of national unity that is responsive to the diverse political demands of its constituent political groups may require the revamping of the constitution into a consociational one. With power-sharing guarantees for minority groups and greater autonomous powers granted to the northern regions, political grievances may be assuaged as northern communities gain greater control over the policies that affect them. In addition, the implementation of preferential electoral systems in the north could potentially reduce the political salience of ethnicity as they can induce political parties to appeal to voters across ethnic groups to maximize electoral gains. These political reforms may raise the likelihood of greater political stability as it could facilitate the creation of peaceful channels for the expression of discontent.

Finally, given the security threats posed by the emergence of armed groups in the largely ungovernable northern territory, a trans-Sahelian security cooperation apparatus must be set up to address the prevalent security vacuums that have allowed criminal networks to thrive and armed groups to carry out their attacks. Only when a consolidated regional framework of cooperation to reinforce the state capacity of a democratically integral Malian government is set up can we aspire to see improvements in the endeavour to mitigate the multifarious conflict catalysts that have recurrently undermined the integrity and stability of the Malian state.


[i] Al Jazeera Online, “France confirms tough fight in Northern Mali”, 26 February 2013

[ii] Al Jazeera Online, “Mali Rebels launch Guerrilla attack on Gao”, 11 February 2013; Al Jazeera Online “French Troops in Very Violent Mali Combat”, 27 February 2013

[iii] OCHA, “Complex Emergency Situation Report”, No. 27, 27 February 2013

[iv] The Guardian Online, “Inside Gao where Arab Jihadis took bloody Sharia retribution on Mali’s Black Africans”, 2 February 2013

[v] Press TV, “Mali junta troops attack Toure loyalists in Bamako”, 8 February 2013

[vi] CNN Online, “Algeria attack changes terror landscape in North Africa”, 23 January 2013; Reuters Online, “Islamist Ansaru claim attack on Mali-bound Nigeria troops”, 20 January 2013

[vii] BBC online, “Mali: France seeks UN peacekeeping role”, 6 February 2013

[viii] Think Africa Press Online, “Post-Conflict Mali: Reprisal or Reconciliation?”, 27 February 2013

[ix] Horowitz’s definition of an ethnically divided society; “ a society in which ethnic group identities have a high degree of salience, exceeding that accorded to alternative identities and in which the levels of antipathy between ethnic groups are high”, Horowitz (1999), p. 4

[x] In this paper, rebellions and insurgencies will be used interchangeably.

[xi] See All Africa online, “North Africa: Tuareg, Mali and a Post-Gadaffi Sahel – Rising Risks to Oil Exploration and Mining Operations”, 18 November 2011

[xii] Sidibé, K., (2012) “Criminal Networks and Conflict-Resolution Mechanisms in Northern Mali”, IDS Bulletin, Volume 43, No.4

[xiii] See Global Security Portal, Mali Country Profile – Tuareg for detailed elaboration of the different Tuareg tribes

[xiv] Schraeder, P.J. (2011), “Traditional Conflict Medicine? Lessons for Putting Mali and Other African Countries on the Road to Peace”, Nordic Journal of African Studies, Vol. 20, No.2

[xv] Sidibé, 2012

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Keita, K. (1998) “Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali”, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

[xviii] Abdalla, M.A. (2009) “Understanding of the Natural Resource Conflict Dynamics: The Case of Tuareg in North Africa and Sahel”, ISS Paper No. 194

[xix] Pulton & Ag Youssef (1998), A Peace in Timbuktu: Democratic Governance, Development and African Peacemaking, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

[xx] Schraeder (2011)

[xxi] World Directory of Minority Rights and Indigenous Peoples, Tuareg Profile:

[xxii] Schraeder (2011)

[xxiii] Pulton & Ag Youssef (1998), p. 12

[xxiv] Keita (1998)

[xxv] Schraeder (2011)

[xxvi] Lode, K. (2002) “Mali’s Peace Process: Context, Analysis and Evaluation”, ACCORD Issue 13

[xxvii] Lode (2002), p.27

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Poulton & Ag Youssouf (1998), p.13

[xxx] Global Edge Online, “Mali: Economy”,

[xxxi] Benjaminsen, T.A. (2008) “Does Supply-Induced Scarcity Drive Violent Conflicts in the African Sahel? The Case of the Tuareg Rebellion in Northern Mali”, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 45, No. 2

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] French acronym. All acronyms of armed groups henceforth will employ their French form.

[xxxiv] Keita (1998), p. 15

[xxxv] Keita (1998)

[xxxvi] Ibid., p. 16

[xxxvii] Lode (2002)

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Poulton & Ag Youssef (1998)

[xl] Keita 1998

[xli] Keita (1998). p. 20

[xlii] Lode 2002

[xliii] (Ibid.)

[xliv] Florquin, N. and S Pezard, (2005) “Insurgency, Disarmament and Insecurity in Northern Mali 1990-2004”, 2005, Small Arms Survey Book Series

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] International Crisis Group (2012) “Mali: Avoiding Escalation”, Africa Report no. 189, 18 July 2012

[xlvii] Bondersholt, S.F. & Gyldenholm, C.K. (2012) “Conflict in Northern Mali: Tuareg Livelihood”, International Development Studies, Roskilde University, p. 55

[xlviii] Ibid.

[xlix] ICG (2012), p.7


[li] Lacher, W. “Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region”, Carnegie Papers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Middle East, September 2012

[lii] Marchal, R. (2012) “The Coup in Mali: The result of a long-term Crisis or Spillover from the Libyan Civil War”, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, May 2012, p.2

[liii] ICG (2012), p.6

[liv] Stratfor, “Mali: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Ransom Revenue”, 15 October  2012

[lv] Diarra, O. (2012), “Insecurity and Instability in the Sahel Region: The Case of Mali”, United States Army War College

[lvi] Sidibé (2012), p.79

[lvii] Stratfor, “Mali Besieged by Fighters Fleeing Libya” February 2, 2013

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix] ICG (2012), p.13

[lx] Ibid.

[lxi] McGregor, A., Zenn, J. & Cristiani, D. (2012), “Mayhem in Mali: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special”, The Jamestown Foundation, Quarterly Special Report Volume 1 Issue 4

[lxii] Ibid.

[lxiii] The Guardian Online, “Mali rebels claim to have ousted regime in coup”, Thursday 22 March 2012

[lxiv] Human Rights Watch, “Mali: War Crimes by Northern Rebels”, April 30, 2012 // Amnesty International, “Mali: Five Months of Crisis – Armed Rebellion and Military Coup, May 2012

[lxv] Guardian Online, “Sahel Food Crisis has been made worse by the widespread Unrest in Africa”, 29 March 2012

[lxvi] ECOWAS Peace and Security Report, “Mali: Making Peace While Preparing for War”, Issue 1, October 2012

[lxvii] Reuters Online, “Mali government, Islamists and Separatists Agree on Peace Talks”, 4 December 2012

[lxviii] United Nations Security Council (2012), “Security Council authorizes deployment of African-led International Support Mission in Mali for initial year-long period”  SC/10870,

[lxix] Reuters Online, “No military intervention in Mali before September: U.N. Peacekeeping Chief”, 5 December 2012

[lxx] BBC Online, “Mali PM Cheick Modibo Diarra resigns after army arrest”, 11 December 2012

[lxxi] Reuters Online, “Mali Islamist Group Says ends Ceasefire with Government”, January 4 2013

[lxxii] The Guardian Online, “Malian army attacks Islamist rebels in the north”, 8 January 2013

[lxxiii] France 24 Online, “Ansar Dine Islamists Seize town of Konna”, 10 January 2012

[lxxiv] CNN Online, “State of Emergency Declared in Mali”, 11 January 2013

[lxxv] New York Times Online, “French Airstrikes in Mali Deter Islamist Rebels”, 12 January 2013

[lxxvi] New York Times Online, “As Troops Advance in Mali, U.S. Begins Airlift”, 22 January 2013

[lxxvii] Reuters Online, “Malians celebrate, French-led forces clear Timbuktu”, 27 January 2013

[lxxviii] Reuters Online, “Mali Tuaregs seize two fleeing Islamist leaders”, 4 February 2013

[lxxix] The Guardian Online, “The Algeria Hostage Crisis: The Full Story of the Kidnapping in the Desert”, 25 January 2013

[lxxx] Reuters Online, “Islamists Ansaru claim attack on Mali-bound Nigeria Troops”, 20 January 2013; The Telegraph Online, “Islamist Group Ansaru claims Nigeria Kidnapping”, 18 February 2013

[lxxxi]  Sudan Tribune Online, “Mali’s jihadists transported to Darfur – JEM”, 12 February 2013

[lxxxii] Reuters Online, “Gunbattle rocks Gao after rebels surprise French and Malians”, 10 February 2013

[lxxxiii] OCHA (2013), “Mali: Complex Emergency Situation Report”, No. 27, 27 February 2013

[lxxxiv] Ibid.

[lxxxv] The Guardian Online, “Inside Gao where Arab Jihadis took bloody Sharia Retribution on Mali’s black Africans”, 2 February 2012

[lxxxvi] BBC News Online, “Mali sets 7 July election date, says minister”, 15 February 2013

[lxxxvii] ICG (2012), p. 30

[lxxxviii] Europolitics Online, “E.U. to resume aid to Mali”, 13 February 2013

[lxxxix] See McChulloch (2012)

[xc] See ICG (2012) for elaboration on the need to De-politicize the Malian security forces.

91 Interpol News Today, “The European Union and the Sahel”, 16 January 2013

92 News 24, “EU Military Trainers Arrive in Mali”, 8 February 2013

93 Agence France Presse, “Malian Coup leader sworn in as Head of Army Reform Committee”, 13 February  2013

94 see Collier & Hoeffler. (2004) and Fearon & Laitin (2003) for an exploration of conflict incidence models.

95 see Gurr (1970) and Tilly (1977) for theoretical elucidation on armed insurgency/rebellion.

96 see Posen (1993), Roe (1999) and Melander, E. (1999) for theoretical elaboration on security dilemmas between ethnic groups in conflict.



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